Brookside fans aim for TV rerun and more DVD releases.
The success of EastEnders on UKTV channel Drama and Coronation Street on ITV3 have made soap viewers nostalgic for classic episodes and fans of Channel 4 serial Brookside are hopeful the cul-de-sac based saga could be the next in line for a re-run revival.
“I initially started the Brookside petition at the end of last year and the original aim was to actually bring it back as a new series. As time went on, and having listened to the views of some of the cast, I realised I was looking at it all through rose-tinted glasses. On the one hand I thought it’d be brilliant to have the series back on air and everything would go back to how it was but of course that just isn’t possible” – Ian Phillips speaking to ATV Today
Viewer Ian Phillips started a petition to get the serial back on air. Initially the campaign was for a new series to launch, but is now focusing on a repeat run as well as mooting the possibility of further DVD releases – a previous collection of the best episodes proved successful when released to mark the soap opera’s 30th anniversary.
Brookside aired for the first time on Channel 4’s opening night, November 2nd 1982 and instantly changed the soap opera landscape thanks to airing on the ‘fourth network’. While the BBC and ITV were tied by tight regulations at the time, programming on Channel 4 wasn’t so tightly ruled – this enabled programming to break new ground – something Brookside would continue to do across its 21-years on air.
The production, based in Liverpool, was devised by former ATV and Southern Television script writer Phil Redmond who along with Brookside also brought to life Grange Hill for the BBC and Hollyoaks for Channel 4. Early storylines were a social document of the 1980s as the well-to-dos were downscaling while the working class were moving up – all mixing together on a close in Merseyside. As the series went on the plots became more explosive as rape, kidnap and murder found their way into the cul-de-sac, all thrilling, shocking, entertaining and informing a regular audience of nine million.
By 2002 however Channel 4 was changing its focus and primetime slots were fast becoming a place of reality and lifestyle programming, Brookside fell out of flavour with the top bosses and was shunted around the schedules. In the storyline the close was to be demolished to make way for an incinerator. In real life, after many years a derelict building site, the actual Brookside Close was transformed into a housing estate.
“Obviously the close is a residential area now and many forget that in the final episode the houses were due to be demolished so it wouldn’t make any sense for them all to suddenly living back on Brookside Close… So, I thought a much more realistic aim was to bring the series back as a rerun and also more DVD releases. Considering how popular it was, and undoubtedly a landmark in British TV drama, it seems sad that’s been practically buried yet still often referenced today. Aside the Memorable Moments DVD which only came about because of a petition, there’s nothing to really commemorate its legacy. With the likes of classic episodes of Corrie and EastEnders being rerun, now seems the perfect time for Brookside to be rerun.” – Ian Phillips speaking to ATV Today
Creator, Phil Redmond in 1982.
The cast of Brookside in the late 1990s.
Ian is hoping the petition will lead to a network picking up the show from episode one in 1982 as he tells us that insiders at Brookside’s rights owners have said bosses there are long past looking at making any new episodes, and as cast have noted themselves, the controversial, boundary-pushing storylines which Brookie was renowned for back in the day are things we generally see in soaps all the time now.
A huge bonus for Brookside as a repeat feature is the number of well known cast who appeared in the saga over the years including Sue Johnston, Ricky Tomlinson, Anna Friel, Claire Sweeney, Ray Quinn and Amanda Burton to name only a few. Many former cast are backing the idea of a rescreening of classic episodes.
“I’ve been bringing memories back for fans – and cast – by showing clips of episodes on Twitter and excited to say have spoken to numerous members of cast including Justine Kerrigan (Tracy Corkhill), Sue Jenkins (Jackie Corkhill), Michael Starke (Sinbad) and Louis Emerick (Mick Johnson) who, I’m pleased to say, are all in favour of rerunning Brookie. It’s a big bonus knowing the cast are in support and it’s great fun speaking to them. Have to say all the cast are looking great and the ladies of Brookside never seem to age.” – Ian Phillips speaking to ATV Today
The petition is currently heading towards 3.5k signatures with it addressed to Channel 4’s chief creative officer and of course Phil Redmond. Ian believes that after 15 years off air now is definitely the right time for more Brookie content on TV and DVD. ‘A whole new generation could watch the soap they’ve heard so much about and think it holds up very well as a social document of its time’ he told us, and we entirely agree.
Brookside fan Lee Brady successfully campaigned for a best of DVD release with the Memorable Moments collection released in 2012 to mark three decades since the first episode aired. Repeat rumours concerning the serial have popped up over the years. In 2010 it was mooted CBS Drama were to show it, they dismissed the suggestion as did Channel 5 later. Brookside’s first edition was repeated on More4 in 2012 to mark the 30th anniversary. Sky Living (as Living TV) screened a number of years worth of the saga in the 1990s.
In October 2017 ITV3 began repeating Coronation Street, starting with episodes in 1986, and last month UKTV channel Drama picked up EastEnders starting with the first episode from 1985. Other archive soaps have seen successful re-runs on television. Take The High Road proved popular with viewers to recently defunct STV2 (the repeats continue online on the STV Player), Crossroads from the sixties and seventies became the most watched programme on BCTV (now Birmingham TV) and Prisoner: Cell Block H was screened on ITV, while the rest of the country could watch it once again via Channel 5.
The original Brookside cast in 1982.