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It’s huge news for diehard fans of the soap, which ended in 2003 after 21 years of groundbreaking storylines and hundreds of memorable characters – who can forget Ron Dicko and the fabulous Bev in their Casa Bevron love nest with adopted chicken Kiev?
Not every episode will get an airing, BritBox has announced it will be streaming ‘select’ ones only in its SoapBox section, but it still means we get to see some of the favourites.
They’ll go out from July, so just in case there are a few you’ve forgotten, here are 10 big Brookside storylines that got everyone talking …
Well before Corrie’s ‘free the Weatherfield One’ had everyone fighting Deirdre’s corner, Brookie fireman George Jackson was the centre of a soap campaign in 1984. George was wrongly convicted of armed robbery after giving details of a warehouse layout to a local gangster. His missus Marie did her best to get him freed, but poor George stayed banged up, although he did get a record by Blazing Saddles released in his honour.
In 1985 gunman John Clarke forced his way into the house shared by nurses Kate Moses and Sandra Maghie and hospital porter Pat Hancock (played by poster boy David Easter). He held them hostage, blaming the hospital where they worked for his mother’s death, and The Close had to be evacuated. The three-episode siege ended with him killing Kate then shooting himself – and Brookie topped the 8million viewer mark for the first time.
This 1986 storyline won so many plaudits for Brookie, writer Jimmy McGovern (who called it his ‘timebomb’) and actress Sue Johnson, along with Ricky Tomlinson as Sheila’s struggling husband Bobby. After being horrifically raped and beaten walking home from the pub, Sheila discovered she was pregnant and her marriage fell apart from the strain. There were three familiar suspects for the attack, but it turned out to be an unknown taxi driver.
Teenage sweethearts, the Romeo and Juliet of the Close, had just as tragic an ending even though they did get another soap landmark with their own three-part spin-off ‘bubble’ in 1987. Simon O’Brien – who wanted to leave the show – and Gillian Kearney had fans in floods after they ran away together, only for Damon to be stabbed and die in Debbie’s arms. 7 million tuned in to sob at Damon’s funeral.
Jack-the-lad Jimmy (Dean Sullivan) and his drug habit became a feature in the mid-90s, when he caused two deaths after taking coke then driving. He made newly-married Frank Rogers crash, killing him and leaving Ron Dixon’s son Tony in a coma he never recovered from. Jimmy’s drug-taking got worse although, after a stint as a fake teacher, depression and a failed suicide attempt, he did make it to the last-ever episode.
No Brookie fan doesn’t remember vile wife-beater and child-abuser Trevor Jordache or what happened to him after his wife Mandy finally managed to get rid of him. In 1993, evil Trevor’s death was Brookie’s most dramatic story – older daughter Beth (Anna Friel) encouraged mum Mandy to plot to kill Trevor and after a couple of failed poisoning attempts Mandy stabbed him and, helped by Beth and Sinbad, buried him under the patio.
The lesbian kiss between Beth Jordache (who was soon to be heading to prison) and nanny Margaret Clemence (who moved on to the local priest) was a huge moment in telly – and LGBT – history. Written by Shaun Duggan, the iconic scene was used in a montage at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics meaning it was screened without censorship in 76 countries where homosexuality is still illegal.
And, because we all knew he was under there – and it was making barbecues a bit nervy – there had to come a time when Trevor Jordache’s bin bagged body was finally discovered. Scriptwriters played the long game and it was another two years before it was unearthed after an underground leak and Mandy and Beth stood trial for murder in the most talked-about soap plot of the year.
After the death of their two children in a car crash where she was drink-driving, Susannah and Max Farnham’s marriage ended and she had flings with builder Greg Shadwick (remember that steamy shower scene?), Mick Johnson and the GP. When she was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in 2000 there were no shortage of suspects but it turned out she’d actually ‘fallen’ during a row with angry ex Max.
In 2002 we saw 12-year-old Anthony Murray (Ray Quinn) fighting back after months of bullying by his school tormentor Imelda Clough (actress-turned DJ Billie Clements). Hailed for highlighting the issue of bullying, the storyline reached a shocking climax when Anthony attacked Imelda who’d been making his life hell and killed her. Brookie creator Phil Redmond said the story, showing one child killing another, reclaimed the show’s “dramatic credentials”.
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