'Coronation Street' actress Melanie Hill is campaigning for her fans to help Sunderland to be named City of Culture in 2021.

Melanie Hill

Melanie Hill

The 54-year-old actress is "extremely proud" of her home city and has urged her social media followers to sport a twibbon - a virtual frame showing support for a cause - on their profile pictures to lend their backing to the campaign.

She tweeted: "Please help support Sunderland 2021, add a #Twibbon now!"

Melanie - who plays Cathy Matthews on 'Corrie' - then added to the Sunderland Echo: "I am extremely proud to add my voice and support to the City of Culture Bid 2021. I love my city and I urge every Mackem out there to get behind this Bid. We deserve it."

Sunderland 2021 bosses hope the online campaign will show the judges just how many people are backing the cause and they are thrilled with the support they have already received.

Rebecca Ball, director of Sunderland 2021 - which was formed to work on the bid bid on behalf of Sunderland City Council, the University of Sunderland and the Music Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust - said: "We know that a great many people in Sunderland are hugely supportive of our bid to become a City of Culture, and many of them were getting in touch with the team to say 'we want to show our support in some way, but we're not sure how to do it'.

"We are delighted that people are so passionately behind this bid, and one great way of showcasing the level of support we have attracted is through social media, something so many people use day to day now."

Official guidance on submissions will be released this month, before bids are submitted in March.

The winning city will be named in September 2017.