We speak to the Brookie superfan who has started a petition to get the soap back on screen
2 years ago
It ran for 21 years before the residents of Liverpool’s most famous close shut their doors, but 18 years after it was last screened on primetime TV, soap fan Ian Phillips is campaigning to bring Brookside back.
Ian, 42, is calling for the Mersey TV drama which broke through boundaries with its gripping and then-daring storylines to be reshown.
“Brookside was a pioneering drama serial which in its time was innovative, groundbreaking and powerful,” he says. “It upped the game for soaps, it raised the bar and set new standards.
“Brookside was the first British soap to truly tackle taboo issues, like homosexuality, and AIDS, long before the others. What it did, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and EastEnders followed, and there are re-runs of those – so why not Brookside.”
Ian adds: “It was also the show to put Channel 4 on the map and now, barring one Memorable Moments DVD and select episodes on BritBox, there is virtually no trace of Brookside – 21 years’ worth of episodes are stored away in the archives gathering dust.
“For a landmark in British Television, Brookside deserves better.”
Ian has started a petition which now has almost 7,000 signatures but he’s aiming for more.
“I’ve sent what we have to Channel 4 but the feedback at the moment is that it’s a financial risk because the series ran for so long, and there are so many episodes.
“Perhaps the easiest way forward is to get the series made available for streaming, then people can watch whatever series or episode they want to. I want to watch it from day one! It would also allow another generation to watch the show they’ve heard so much about and I really wouldn’t be surprised if it were to hook a cult following with a new generation.
“Streaming would be great because there are so many storylines that might not be allowed now, certainly before the watershed – there was some violence and swearing. But it would be great to get it re-shown. There was a poll a few years ago where people were asked which soap they’d like to see again and Brookside had the highest percentage, I think about 89%.”
Until he hopefully gets the series reshown on a terrestrial channel or streaming service, published writer Ian – he’s written books about Diana Ross and British sub-culture, and is currently writing a book about Madonna – has been helping to feed his and fans’ hunger for Brookside with interviews with members of its cast.
He has spoken to Michael Starke (aka Sinbad), Louis Emerick (Mick Johnson) and John McArdle (Billy Corkhill) in live Zoom chats via his Facebook page which he’s then uploaded to YouTube, and he is currently arranging an online reunion with a host of others too, including Simon O’Brien (Damon Grant), Eithne Browne (Chrissy Rogers), Gabrielle Glaister (Patricia Farnham), and Tina Malone (Mo McGee).
“I’ve loved doing the interviews with the cast members and I am really excited about the reunion, which will hopefully be early October,” says Ian. “And I’ve been touched by the cast’s reaction and appreciation, as much as that of fans of the show.”
Ian’s favourite characters:
Bad guy Barry Grant played by Paul Usher – I didn’t agree with what he did but Paul Usher was such a great actor. When he was at his most violent he was genuinely scary. Paul Usher was exciting to watch.
Jimmy Corkhill (Dean Sullivan) – He was a loveable scally. He did bad things but you still liked him.
Sheila and Bobby Grant played by Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson – They had such a magical chemistry together, they bounced off each other, it was hard to believe they weren’t together in real life.
Favourite storyline – I loved Barry becoming a gangster of all his storylines, but the best storyline ever has to be Trevor Jordache being buried under the patio, it’s the one that got me the most emotionally involved. It could have been so tacky and so far-fetched, but it was brilliant because it was so well done.
Ian is hoping to continue the petition to get as many signatures as he can amid hopes that one day he, and the army of Brookside fans, can get their wish.
“The more people sign, the more likely it will happen,” he says. “I am confident it can happen and hopefully we can persuade Channel 4 to re-run it. There was a petition by Lee Brady for the Memorable Moments DVD and it took him five years, I’ve been doing this for only three – so there’s time yet.
“It changed the game and set the bar for everyone else, and we’ve got re-runs of other soaps so why not the best, why not Brookside?”
Find Ian on Facebook and Twitter @IanPBrookside