Poster used to publicise the show during a national billboard campaign in the summer of 1992. Actors Michael Starke and Cheryl Maiker play Sinbad and Marcia

Brookside


 

THIS PAGE WAS WRITTEN IN 1998 - INFO AND LINKS MAY BE OUT OF DATE

The Beginning

Brookside began in November 1982 as two episodes a week, created by Phil Redmond for the opening of Channel 4, the UK's fourth terrestrial TV channel. If the new station wanted a radical image then it had done a good job in commissioning the show. Although shot on video, it was made using single camera techniques and there were no sets - Brookside Close was, and still is, a real housing estate that just happens to be owned by Mersey TV. Initial reaction was mainly concerned with the strong language used, and this was toned down in later episodes.

Social Drama

In setting out to be an issue-led soap dealing with modern problems, Brookside has always courted controversy. Unemployment, strikes and class differences were featured in the early years. Wrongful imprisonment, drugs, rape, British TV's first lesbian screen kiss, and incest have all played their part in providing storylines.

Expansion

To coincide with Channel Four beginning to sell its own advertising, three episodes a week were commissioned. It was a make or break time, but with a cliff-hanging storyline about Barry Grant killing his best friend's wife and the introduction of new families audience figures increased. Childwall (30K) The Parade was opened, supposedly just a short walk down a path from the close, but in reality five miles away at MTVs new headquarters in Childwall, providing much welcomed locations such as shops and a bar.
Setting up a fight sequence on Brookside Parade in 1992. The building top right should never appear on your TV screen!

Directing Brookside

The programme is widely considered as a good training ground for directors, although MTV employs a mixture of new and experienced people. When Brookside started, five 10-hour shooting days were allowed to produce two episodes, although often a day of off-site location work was involved. The show went three nights a week in 1990, and I began directing in 1991, episode 1005. Directors are responsible for a block of three episodes, and now have seven shooting days to get them on tape - it was six when I started.
Because of the single camera techniques and often cramped conditions,turning round for reverse angles can be quite time consuming, although the Parade shops have enough overhead lights to cope with all but the sunniest of days - but also plenty of windows to give reflections of the crew in!
The toughest shoot, and one of the most enjoyable, was an episode set around a trip to Alton Towers Theme Park. Most of the cast were involved, the crowds were incredible, but we managed to get it all in the can.
Brookie logo Brookside has its own web site which includes a virtual tour of the Close and also links to Mersey TV's site. You can find it at WWW.Brookie.com

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