Brookside

Brookside is a British soap opera set in Liverpool, England. The series began on the launch night of Channel 4 on 2 November 1982, and ran for 21 years until 4 November 2003. Originally intended to be called Meadowcroft, the series was produced by Lime Pictures (then Mersey Television) and it was conceived by Phil Redmond who also devised Grange Hill (1978–2008) and Hollyoaks (1995–present).

Brookside became very successful and was often Channel 4’s highest rated programme for a number of years in the mid-1980s and with audiences regularly in excess of nine million viewers. It is notable for realistic and socially challenging storylines. From the mid-1990s it began raising more controversial subjects under the guidance of new producers such as Mal Young and Paul Marquess. It is especially well known for broadcasting the first pre-watershed kiss on British television in 1994, as well as a powerful domestic abuse storyline resulting in murder. In 1996, the series experienced an extreme backlash from viewers when it featured a hugely controversial storyline of a consensual sexual relationship between two sibling characters.

Although the series had a long and successful run, by 2000 its viewing figures were in terminal decline and low ratings eventually led to its cancellation in June 2003. The final episode was broadcast on 4 November 2003 and was watched by around two million viewers.

The first episode of Brookside was repeated as part of Channel 4 at 25 on 1 October 2007. The episode aired on More4 in a season of celebratory Channel 4 programmes to mark the channel’s first quarter-century. Several classic episodes have also been available to view on 4oD, an online service, since 2009.

After years of campaigning by fans led by Lee Brady, a special DVD was released in November 2012, just over 30 years after the series originally began, titled Brookside Most Memorable Moments. It features clips and episodes from the programme’s 21-year history.

Brookside differed from other soap operas because it was filmed in real, brand-new houses, in a real cul-de-sac, situated off Deysbrook Lane in the North West city of LiverpoolBuilt by Broseley Homes, the houses were custom built in an attempt by the producers to add to the show’s realism. In early 1982, Mersey Television, with Phil Redmond at the helm, bought thirteen houses altogether, six of which would be seen on-screen as sets. The remaining seven properties housed administration, postproduction and canteen facilities for the cast and crew. Phil Redmond was particularly enthusiastic about purchasing an entire ‘close’ of houses, partly as a means of achieving the desired realism of Brookside, but also in order to maintain total control of his creation.

Brookside had a smaller ensemble cast than other soaps, eventually focusing on six households. The early cast featured just 16 characters and it would be a full 12 months before the six houses in Brookside Close became fully occupied. This was intentional, as Redmond wanted to reflect the pace of real life ‘new-build’ estate occupancy. Therefore, introductory episodes concentrated on the development of the anchor Grant family, with Sheila (Sue Johnston) and Bobby (Ricky Tomlinson) who had moved up the social ladder to a big, four-bedroomed house on the ‘middle-class’ Brookside Close from a run-down council estate.

The Grants were the first family to have moved onto the Close and they lived at number 5 and were the focus of earliest advertising campaigns promoting the programme. Initially, only three of the six new-builds were occupied by characters and Episode 1 saw the arrival of the Collins family led by Annabelle Collins (Doreen Sloane), who is the first actor to be seen in the first episode and Paul Collins (Jim Wiggins). In contrast to the Grants, the Collinses were on their way down the social ladder, downsizing from their lavish home on the upmarket Wirral, to the smaller, more modest, number 8, Brookside Close following Paul’s redundancy. The contrast between the families was heavily featured, particularly Bobby’s left wing and Paul’s right wing views. Other characters included Heather (Amanda Burton in her TV debut) and Roger Huntington (Rob Spendlove), two young professionals residing at semi-detached number 9 who took an instant dislike to the Grants. Low class newly-weds Gavin (Daniel Webb) and Petra Taylor (Alexandra Pigg) moved into number 10 during very early episodes, memorably selling stolen cookers from the front lawn, infuriating their new neighbours.

The first episode was watched by 4.2 million viewers but the initial reaction to the serial was far from positive. Critics were quick to point out various technical problems as well as the profanity now being screened before the watershed. As viewing figures plummeted, stabilising at around 1 million, the production team and writers started to iron out Brookside’s teething troubles. Soundproof panels were placed on the ceilings of the houses to contain sound and eliminate echoing, and the scriptwriters toned down the language and removed a couple of poor performing supporting actors.

The show’s atmosphere changed with the arrival of new characters such as Alan Partridge (a character played by Dicken Ashworth and unrelated to the later comedy character of the same name) who moved into the bungalow (number 6) in April 1983, while pensioners Harry (Bill Dean) and Edna (Betty Alberge) Cross, who bought number 7, arrived in November. Their opening storyline involved the mysterious movement of their garden gnomes. These new characters expanded the cast whilst helping to bring humour and balance to the existing cast during 1983.

Further cast changes during 1983 saw the arrival of the Jackson family. Both Gavin and Petra Taylor departed Brookside very early in the year. Gavin was the first casualty of the soap, dying suddenly from a brain haemorrhage in February – Petra committed suicide a few months later, having disappeared from the Close in mysterious circumstances. Petra’s sister, Marie Jackson (Anna Keaveney), her husband George (Cliff Howells) and their twin boys Gary and ‘little’ George (Allan and Steven Patterson) moved into number 10. They became central to one of Brookside’s first high-profile storylines, when George was wrongly convicted of a warehouse robbery. In a bold move, the plotline was leaked to the tabloid press, and as Marie Jackson began the Free George Jackson campaign on-screen, the press followed, creating huge levels of media hype similar to those seen when US soap Dallas featured the ‘Who shot J. R.?‘ plot in 1980, and Crossroads leaked the motel fire storyline in November 1981. Viewing figures rose as the hype continued; a record called “Free George Jackson” by Blazing Saddles was released, and merchandise was produced, including T-shirts and posters. Even though the storyline ultimately had a low-key conclusion (Cliff Howells who played George resigned and George Jackson stayed in prison), the plot helped Brookside on the pathway to success, particularly when the Corkhills arrived to replace the departed Jackson family in September 1985.

Other early storylines included Alan’s turbulent love-life and eventual marriage to Samantha (Dinah May), Sheila’s unexpected pregnancy in her forties, Paul’s battles with unemployment, Edna’s gambling addiction, Terry Sullivan’s relationship with Petra’s other sister, Michelle Jones (Tracey Jay), and his descent into petty crime along with Barry Grant. All the while, a strong political undertone was evident in the writing of Brookside’s earliest episodes and characters would often be seen debating political issues of the time.

Many of Brookside’s early storylines were issue-led and strongly geared around Bobby and Sheila‘s turbulent marriage. Bobby’s short-temper and frequent visits to union picket lines opposite Sheila’s staunch Catholic faith and traditional family values made compelling viewing for many viewers, as did the antics of their children Barry (Paul Usher), Karen (Shelagh O’Hara), and Damon (Simon O’Brien).

The Jacksons, although a relatively high-profile family during the first two years of Brookside, departed Liverpool following inmate George’s transfer to a different prison near Leeds in early 1985. Petra and Marie’s other sister, Michelle (Tracey Jay), departed soon after, leaving number 10 vacant for some time.

1985 was a pivotal year for Brookside. Viewing figures had been steadily increasing since the popular Free George Jackson plot of 1984, but they rose to unprecedented levels in July 1985 during an extreme and hard-hitting siege storyline which saw three characters held hostage at gunpoint. At this point, Britain’s newest TV channel and flagship soap opera was still only in its third year and number 7 Brookside Close was now home to two young nurses – Sandra Maghie (Sheila Grier) and Kate Moses (Sharon Rosita), and former hospital porter Pat Hancock (David Easter). They rented the property from Harry Cross who had moved into the bungalow next door, having recently suffered a serious angina attack, and through their nursing, they encountered John Clarke (Robert Pugh), whose elderly mother eventually died (of natural causes) in hospital, while under their care. Gradually, John’s instability grew into insanity and he was unable to cope with the death of his mother.

He forced his way into number 7, armed with a gun and ready to avenge his mother’s death. He held the three nurses hostage for several days in a tense three-episode run with Brookside Close sealed off and surrounded by armed police. The siege culminated in three shots resulting in the death of Kate followed by John’s suicide. Some critics took issue with the unlikely plot-premise; for example, former Daily Mail critic Hilary Kingsley described it as “ludicrous” in her book Soap Box, while others were critical of the producers’ decision to kill off Kate, the series’ only black character. Viewers disagreed and ratings were pushed to over 8 million for the first time. This year also saw the death of Edna Cross, who collapsed from a stroke in the kitchen of number 6, just weeks after the siege. Her death became even more poignant after she was rushed to hospital, only to be told there were no beds available. Sadly, Edna died, and long-time friend Ralph Hardwick (Ray Dunbobbin) moved into the bungalow to look after a devastated Harry.

In September, what would become Brookside’s longest-serving family, the Corkhills, arrived. The first generation of Corkhills to appear in the Close were Billy (John McArdle) and Doreen (Kate Fitzgerald) who moved into number 10 with their children Rod (Jason Hope) and Tracy (Justine Kerrigan). Stories involving the Corkhills were strongly concerned with marital problems and debt and with Billy languishing on the dole, Doreen did whatever she could to raise money to support her desperate family. Another character to arrive at the same time as the Corkhills was Doreen’s interfering mother, Julia Brogan (Gladys Ambrose), who became a hugely popular comedy character. She was often seen dropping in to see her daughter’s family, usually at the most inappropriate moments and remained in the series for well over a decade.

The Collins family at number 8 had an eventful time during the early years of Brookside Close. Nearing retirement, Paul (Jim Wiggins) suffered humiliation at his redundancy and subsequent unemployment, resulting in Paul, Annabelle (Doreen Sloane) and their children Lucy (originally Katrin Cartlidge) and Gordon having to move to Brookside Close in the first episode.

In another British soap opera first, a controversial storyline aired in 1985 saw their teenage son Gordon (originally Nigel Crowley, later Mark Burgess) coming out as homosexual when his copy of Gay Times was delivered to the Corkhills by mistake. The following year, Lucy Collins (now briefly being played by Maggie Saunders) embarked on an affair with an older married man. During this time Annabelle (Doreen Sloane) became a magistrate.

In 1986 storylines were just as hard-hitting. The year saw a shocking and controversial sex attack on pivotal character Sheila Grant. Actress Sue Johnston‘s realistic portrayal of scenes showing Sheila coming to terms with her horrific rape experience and the impact this had on her family led to the storyline being named the second most popular Brookside storyline ever, as featured in the documentary Brookside: 10 of the Best.

Sue Johnston, one of many actresses that started their career in Brookside, went on to achieve even greater acclaim in the long-running drama Waking the Dead (2000–11) and as Barbara Royle in the hugely successful sitcom The Royle Family (1998-2012). Even with these accolades, when interviewed for the short Brookside: 10 of the Best DVD feature, Johnston confirmed that this powerful storyline is some of her proudest work ever as an actress.

The second big storyline of 1986 was the death of Heather’s second husband Nicholas Black (Alan Rothwell). Having divorced her first husband Roger in 1983, Heather Huntingdon reverted to her maiden name, Haversham, and returned to her career as an accountant. In November 1985 and shortly after a stint engaged to rich businessman Tom Curzon, Heather met and quickly married Nicholas, but she was unaware that he was a secret heroin addict. Although Nick (as he was generally known) attempted to keep to his promise to his wife to give up heroin, the pull of the drug became stronger. After weeks of deceiving his wife to raise money for drugs (including stealing and selling her jewellery) he disappeared, subsequently dying of exposure in Sefton Park after overdosing on uncut heroin. As a result of this and realising there was nothing left for her in Brookside Close, she left the series for good. The storyline was intentionally shocking, and made Brookside the first British soap opera to tackle the issue of heroin addiction candidly – indeed Brookside would re-visit the issue of drug addiction several times during the rest of its long run.

This year also saw the introduction of the soap’s longest-running character Jimmy Corkhill, played by Dean Sullivan. Initially a bit-part player, Jimmy was the brother of Billy Corkhill. His early appearances usually saw the character in many moneymaking schemes, along with characters such as Barry Grant, Terry Sullivan (Brian Regan) and Thomas ‘Sinbad’ Sweeney (Michael Starke). Jimmy Corkhill’s first high-profile storyline involved an insurance job on his brother Billy’s house, whilst the Corkhills and most of the close were attending son Rod’s graduation from Police training. Another famous Brookside storyline occurred in November 1987 and involved Doreen and Billy’s crumbling marriage reaching breaking point. When Doreen admitted to Billy she had been sexually propositioned in return to pay off the family’s spiralling debts, in an iconic scene, Billy drove around the Close, churning up his neighbour’s gardens in a fit of anger, and a distraught Doreen walked out on her desperate family.

Following Heather’s exit, Jonathan Gordon-Davies (Stephen Pinner) bought number 9, moving in with his fiancée, Laura Wright (Jane Cunliffe) in April 1987. Jonathan and Laura were both young professionals epitomising the ‘yuppie’ stereotype of the era and ostensibly filled the social demographic previously occupied by Heather. However, shortly after their marriage in August and following extensive character development in the scripts, Laura was soon hospitalised by an almighty electric shock. After leaving the bathroom and switching on a brass-faced light switch that had been incorrectly wired by her father, Laura tumbled down the stairs, and went into a coma for three months. Jonathan was faced with the impossible decision of allowing doctors to switch off her life-support machine in harrowing scenes originally aired in January 1988. Terry Sullivan then lodged at number 9 with Jonathan, and Terry’s new girlfriend Sue Harper (Annie Miles) moved in soon after.

Late 1987 to early 1988 saw the rapid disintegration of the central Grant family. Damon was fatally stabbed whilst on the run in York with his girlfriend Debbie (Gillian Kearney) in November 1987 (and contained in a Brookside spin-off, see below). Karen left the show when she headed for London to study in late 1986, returning briefly in 1988 to visit her brother’s grave, and again in 1990 for her mother’s wedding. Bobby then left the Close in May 1988 after he and Sheila grew apart following Damon’s death. Later it was revealed that he was not Barry’s biological father.

As the Grants’ marriage crumbled, destitute Sheila and her youngest daughter Claire moved into the spare room at Billy Corkhill’s (number 10) after lonely Billy agreed to take them in. Number 5 was subsequently auctioned off and bought by the Rogers family during a moment of auction-fever in May 1989.

The Rogers were a similarly large family like the Grants and moved into number 7 Brookside Close in November 1987 on the day of Damon’s funeral, initially renting it from Harry Cross. The Rogers comprised truck driver Frank (Peter Christian) and his wife Chrissy (Eithne Browne) along with their three children Sammy (Rachael Lindsay), Katie (Debbie Reynolds, Diane Burke from 1989) and Geoff (Kevin Carson). One of the very early storylines featuring the Rogers’ family involved Geoff’s dyslexia. After experiencing reading and writing difficulties at school, mum Chrissy eventually uncovered his dyslexia, initially teaching him herself at home before getting proper specialist teaching for Geoff in school. It was the first time dyslexia had been tackled by a TV drama and helped to significantly raise awareness.

1989 saw the Rogers family, who had arrived in 1987, become the central nuclear family in Brookside. When the bigger and 4-bedroomed number 5 went up for auction, decided they wanted to buy the former Grant house on their way up the property ladder. Many storylines revolved around them. These included the bullying of Katie at school and a spectacular stunt, which was staged in October 1989 when Sammy Rogers (Rachael Lindsay) and Owen Daniels (Danny McCall) were involved in a horrific car accident as a result of joy riding. The storyline was praised by then Home Office Minister John Patten as “realistic realism” when highlighting the dangers of joy riding. As a result of the crash, Owen used a wheelchair and Sammy turned to drink, beginning the character’s destructive descent into alcoholism.

Later developments for the Collins family included, in another very hard hitting storyline, Annabelle having to rescue her elderly mother, Mona (Margaret Clifton), from a corrupt care-home where she was being badly treated. This was followed shortly after by Annabelle’s affair with Brian Lawrence (Vincent Maguire), a fellow magistrate. Paul eventually found out about the affair and confronted Annabelle on Christmas Day in 1988. In the weeks that followed, they struggled but eventually managed to get their marriage back on track. In June 1990, however, the entire family were abruptly written out of the series following Doreen Sloane’s sudden, tragic death from cancer. The departure of Annabelle and the popular Collins family who’d been with the series for 8 years since the very first episode was a huge and sad loss to the series and they were missed by viewers for quite some time.

Like the Grants, the Corkhills’ turbulent marriage also ended in divorce and Doreen (Kate Fitzgerald) left the family in late 1987. 19-year-old Rod (Jason Hope) became a police officer, while 16-year-old Tracy (Justine Kerrigan) trained as a hairdresser. Jimmy Corkhill (now a regular cast-member) was by now lodging at number 10 with his new girlfriend Kathy Roach (Noreen Kershaw). To make room for everyone, he created another room by knocking a doorway through to the garage and it was this room that was eventually occupied by Sheila and Claire Grant after the breakdown of the Grants’ marriage. During 1989 Sheila and Billy grew closer, but the surprise return of Doreen, determined to win back Billy, caused big problems in their unlikely but slowly developing romance which became hugely popular with viewers.

Also in 1989, a young, professional Chinese family, the Chois, arrived at vacated number 7, appearing from May 1989. Widower Michael (David Yip) moved in with his young daughter Jessica and before long, he embarked on a relationship with a colleague, scientist Alison Gregory (Alyson Spiro). Michael’s sister Caroline (Sarah Lam) also moved in, providing storylines for the increasingly popular recurring character, window-cleaner Sinbad (Michael Starke), who was briefly attracted to her. Sinbad had risen from the ranks of bit-part comedy relief character to a popular member of the cast and his part in Brookside continued to grow as time went on. He was eventually reunited with his estranged mother Ruth (Mary Healey), before finding love with Marcia Barrett (Cheryl Maiker) to whom he became briefly engaged.

By 1990, most of the original cast of Brookside had left the series; Billy and Sheila married and then departed for Basingstoke, Jonathan Gordon-Davies left for London, the entire Collins family moved to the Lake District, relative newcomers the Choi’s emigrated to America and then Harry Cross moved to St Helens. They were quickly replaced by a raft of new characters; the Farnhams bought number 7, the Dixon family arrived at number 8, the reunited Johnson family settled into number 6, and Sue Harper (Annie Miles) married Terry Sullivan (Brian Regan) and they started married life at number 9 with baby Danny. Now with the rest of the Grant family gone, the remaining original character of Barry Grant (Paul Usher) was developed and he became increasingly involved in various dubious plots with the Liverpool underworld.

The 1990 cast of new families arrived in very quick succession; Mick Johnson (Louis Emerick) had been a lodger with Harry Cross in 1989 but in early 1990, the character was joined by his estranged wife Josie (Suzanne Packer) and their children Leo and Gemma (Naomi Kamanga). Max and Patricia Farnham (Steven Pinder and Gabrielle Glaister) moved into number 7 in September and were the soap’s new ‘professional’ couple, along with their son Thomas, and live-in nanny Margaret Clemence (Nicola Stephenson). In direct contrast, working-class Ron and DD Dixon (Vince Earl and Irene Marot) drove onto Brookside Close during October in the ‘Moby’, a huge mobile shop, and moved into number 8 with their family, thus beginning a long-running feud between the two families which would last the rest of the series.

Even with the high cast turnover, Brookside was now achieving mass appeal and had become a hugely profitable and lucrative brand for Channel 4, and ratings continued to climb. The soap was by now achieving an average audience of around 7 million viewers (with the weekday and omnibus audience figures combined) and Channel 4 wanted more; so, from 1 July 1990, an extra episode was added and Brookside was now shown three times a week. To accommodate this expansion, off-screen, Mersey Television bought a defunct technical college in the district of Childwall, around 15 minutes away from the set of Brookside Close. The new headquarters came with a number of advantages, not least the fact that parts of the site could be used as different sets for their programmes, and, on-screen, part of this new premises became a row of shops called Brookside Parade.

The distinctive synthesised theme to Brookside was written by local composers Steve Wright and Dave Roylance from Wirral. Dave died in October 2006. This version was used on the programme on 2 November 1982, the day the first episode was broadcast, and lasted until 28 December 1990.

With the advent of Dolby Stereo Surround Sound, the theme was updated and modernised by Steve Wright, and the first episode to feature this music was broadcast on 31 December 1990. This version was the longest-running, and the last time this music was featured on the credits originally aired 31 October 2002.

The third version of the Brookside theme launched on 6 November 2002, a year before the programme was cancelled. A new arrangement at the start of this theme, again by Steve Wright, makes this version of the theme distinctive, although the midsection and close remained similar to the previous versions.

Brookside had memorable opening titles, which subtly changed many times over 21 years, particularly as the residents of Brookside Close came and went. The beginning of the sequence contained sweeping high shots of Liverpool life and landmarks, before showing a bird’s-eye view of the estate leading to Brookside Close. Several views of the various residents’ homes were shown, before the camera finally settled by the iconic Brookside Close sign. In the early episodes, Bobby Grant’s blue Princess was always predominantly parked outside number 5, and in 1990, this became Frank Rogers’ purple Ford Cortina when the Rogers replaced the Grants as the family occupying number 5. When Brookside Parade became part of the programme in 1991, shots of the Parade were regularly spliced into the title sequence as businesses came and went – these shots were shown after the existing landmark shots of Liverpool, but before the birds-eye views of Brookside Close and residents’ homes.

The closing credits were originally scrolled against a royal blue background, however, this backdrop was soon changed to an aerial view of Brookside Close from episode 105 in 1983. The titles were originally transparent, but this changed to a bold typeface of the same font in 1987. The closing sequence was slightly changed on 7 October 1991 and lasted until 31 December 1993. The closing sequence was changed entirely, giving a bird’s-eye view of the close, which was used from 3 January 1994 and lasted until 25 June 1999.

In 1999, the titles were completely changed, and new shots were composed to fit into a split-screen box effect – these titles were specifically designed to reflect the programme’s newly launched website. Early versions of this sequence followed a cyclist through the Close to Brookside Parade in one box, while the other box contained steadicam shots approaching each door to the houses on Brookside Close. At the end of each episode until the end of the series, there would be a Next time on Brookside continuity announcement with a preview of scenes from the next episode. This opening title-sequence launched on 29 June 1999.

The final set of opening titles launched on 6 November 2002. Again, following a split screen effect, one half of the (same) shot is presented in daylight, and the other half during night-time. Totally new shots were filmed for this title-sequence and it lasted until the final episode in 2003. These credits were often preceded by the strains of theme song and a Previously on Brookside… comment by various actors during a recap of previous episodes. The series finale’s end credits music was cut off at the last portion by the closing of the original Grange Hill theme.

Unlike other British soap operas past or present, at the end of omnibus editions screened at Christmas (usually the last omnibus that year), the cast of actors and crew would stand waving at the camera for the entire duration of the closing credits, wishing all Brookside viewers a ‘Happy Christmas’.

Two spin-offs were produced in the late 1980s-

  1. Damon and Debbie (1987) followed the two characters, Damon Grant and Debbie McGrath absconding to York, concluding in Damon’s death. 
  2. The second, 1988’s South, saw Tracy Corkhill and Jamie Henderson seeking a better life in London; this was part of an ITV For Schools English programme and was notable for featuring a guest appearance by Morrissey playing himself.

From its launch in 1982, Brookside was broadcast between 8 pm and 9 pm, although some episodes would occasionally be shown at 9 pm or after for scheduling reasons.

In WalesS4C always screened Brookside at 10 pm. The Omnibus was broadcast on Saturday evening, usually at 5 pm – 6 pm.

During weekdays, Brookside was always broadcast from 8 pm, first on Tuesday and Wednesday, then Monday and Wednesday, with a few special five-nighters, with these episodes always airing Monday to Friday.

On 1 July 1990, as ratings increased, Brookside gained a third weekly episode, which saw a regular broadcast pattern of Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 pm. The serial’s timeslot was far more consistent in the 1980s and early 1990s, however, from the mid-1990s, the schedules did keep changing.

In 1994, when the BBC‘s soap EastEnders started broadcasting three nights a week, the third weekly episodes was broadcast every Monday at 8 pm, which clashed with Brookside. This forced Channel 4 to move Brookside to Tuesdays at 8 pm (initially up against ITV‘s The Bill). The final weekday schedule, from 2001, was Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 pm.

From 30 November 2002, as a consequence of declining ratings over the previous five years, it was removed from its traditional weekday timeslots and reduced to a 90-minute edition broadcast once a week on Saturday evening, usually from 4 pm. By now, it was being widely reported in the media that Brookside was likely to be axed completely within the next year.

On 27 July 2003, by which time Channel 4 bosses had confirmed that it would be discontinued later in the year, Brookside was moved to its final broadcast time of Tuesdays, usually starting after 11 pm, but on at least one occasion the show did not start until after midnight for scheduling reasons. The final episode was 100 minutes including adverts and screened slightly earlier, from 10:40 pm to 12:20 am.

1982–1990: Twice a week (30 minute episodes)

  • Tuesday & Wednesday: Week commencing 31 October 1982 – 17 November 1984
  • Monday & Wednesday: Week commencing 18 November 1984 – 29 December 1984, 31 July 1988 – 30 June 1990
  • Monday & Tuesday: Week commencing 30 December 1984 – 30 July 1988

When Brookside was removed from prime-time Channel 4Mersey Television  immediately started using some of the houses on Brookside Close in its other soaps Hollyoaks and Grange Hill.

In Hollyoaks, the Dean family moved into what was number 7 Brookside Close, and the Burton-Taylor family moved into what was number 8 (as a result, the interior of number 8 was never again seen in Brookside with its occupant, Jack Michaelson, only ever shown at the door of the house). On-screen, the two identical houses had their exteriors clad in a mock-Tudor wood effect, net curtains covered the windows, and there were never exterior long-shots, but eagle-eyed viewers frequently spotted sights and props that made the use of these houses in Hollyoaks fairly obvious. In fact, prior to the use of these houses as sets, another house in Brookside Close was also used in Hollyoaks as the Cunninghams’ home. However, although this would have been number 13 Brookside Close had it appeared on-screen, the house was never featured in any Brookside storyline and was never seen or referenced.

Following the sale of Mersey Television to All3Media in 2005, all the properties on Brookside Close became surplus to requirements so all the Hollyoaks characters based at this set quickly transferred to new homes at Mersey Television’s Childwall site. The entire set was sold to a developer who then stripped, gutted and attempted to rebuild the entire interior of each of the 13 houses before making them available for sale to the public in January 2007.

Of the houses on Brookside Close (that were used as sets), Numbers 7 and 8 were the cheapest at £199,000, while the famous number 10 was for sale at £295,000 according to the particulars of Off Plan Investments, who were selling the houses at that time. The houses were put up for sale in a semi-finished condition, and coupled with the extremely high asking prices, they did not sell, and the developer went into receivership soon after. The set then became neglected and fell into decay.

Over a year later in February 2008, it was revealed by the auctioneers SHM Smith Hodgkinson that they would be taking offers for the 13 houses, considering bids in the region of £2 million.

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