Poster used to publicise the show during a national billboard campaign
in the summer of 1992. Actors Michael Starke and Cheryl Maiker play Sinbad
THIS PAGE WAS WRITTEN IN 1998 - INFO AND LINKS MAY
BE OUT OF DATE
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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