Brookside: Actors’ delight as STV Player to stream soap from start

Image source, PA Media

Actors who became household names after appearing in TV soap Brookside said they are “thrilled” it will be broadcast to a new audience.

The Liverpool-based drama ended in 2003 but will be aired from the start all over again on streaming service STV Player from 1 February.

Claire Sweeney, who played Lindsay Corkhill, said it was a “game-changer”.

Fellow actress Sunetra Sarker, who played Nisha Batra, said she was “thrilled” new audiences would find it.

Conceived by Grange Hill and Hollyoaks creator Sir Philip Redmond and starting on the opening night of Channel 4’s broadcasts in 1982, the show drew in audiences of nine million viewers at its peak before finishing on 4 November 2003.

The show, set on a fictional street in Liverpool, was known for its hard-hitting storylines and took on issues like rape, bullying and incest.

In 1985, teenage character Gordon Collins became the first ever openly gay character in a series, while the show also included the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss on British TV.

Image source, PA Media

Sweeney said it was a “pioneering show which tackled gritty storylines in an explosive way”.

“Phil Redmond took storyline to places and it was the first show to have a helpline added at the end,” she said.

She said the “success rate of people who were involved was incredible”, with both Jimmy McGovern and Frank Cottrell-Boyce starting their writing careers on the soap and a host of actors, including Anna Friel, Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston, becoming household names on the show.

Sweeney, who went on to become a star of West End musicals, said Sir Phil “took a chance on new writers [and] on new actors”.

“It was phenomenal,” she said.

“I owe a lot to Brookside and it was brilliant to be part of it.”

Image source, PA Media

Sarker, who has appeared in a host of shows since, including Ackley Bridge and Casualty, said she “owes a lot” to the soap.

She was given her role after being spotted at a bus stop at the age of 15.

“Had I known then that Brookside Close would be the road that led me to my surprising and eventful career, I would never have believed it,” she said.

She said she was “thrilled” it was being aired again “after all these years”.

“I never fail to hear fans tell me how much they still miss the show,” she said.

The show’s first 10 episodes will be streamed on STV Player from 1 February.

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