The show has been off air since 2003, but reports recently revealed the start of a new era for the previously-derelict Brookside Close as real-life residents are now moving into the houses in which the programme was filmed.
Another reason that the gritty serial has been getting attention is the news that a 'Best Of' DVD could be released to mark its 30th anniversary next year. The project is currently being researched by Channel 4's DVD label 4DVD following a long-running fan campaign to get classic episodes released on disc.
Brookie superfans Lee Brady, 24, and Danny Burton, 23, have been calling for a DVD for years - making their voices heard with an online petition which has been signed by former cast members and thousands of fans. The campaign has been mentioned on This Morning and in various newspapers and magazines in recent weeks.
Soap Scoop recently had a chat with Lee to find out what all the fuss is about and how fans can help to make sure a Brookside DVD does hit the shelves next year. Our Q&A with him follows below.
How long have you been running the Brookside DVD campaign for?
"We have been running the campaign since around April 2007 - it's all gone so quickly. I had a visit to the Close in 2006 and I took some video footage of the set to show fans on YouTube, then I got a message from another fan called Danny Burton from Essex. We spoke about the Unfinished Business DVD that was released just after Brookside ended in 2003 to finish one of the storylines off from the show, which featured trailers of upcoming DVDs which were never released. We looked into it and found out the Settling Up DVD which featured Barry Grant going after his brother's killers and the 100 Greatest Moments DVD were never filmed.
"So we thought to try and run a petition and see where it goes from there. We did get a bit of publicity in the Liverpool Echo newspaper, which led to us getting a phone call from Dean Sullivan's (Jimmy Corkhill) management inviting us to his birthday bash, where we met a lot of the cast and Phil Redmond himself, who supported our campaign and gave us some advice."
How long did it take for you to get the campaign noticed?
"We got noticed pretty much right away, as we were trying to plug it as much as possible on as many forums and websites as we could find. As always when starting something you will get a lot of people who are very 'not interested' as they believe it's another failed attempt already to do what we were aiming for and were very negative. But as it built up, we got more and more positivity from fans who thought, 'Yes, this is actually the one, this is actually getting somewhere and getting some publicity'. But at times it did go very quiet but we stuck to it and hopefully it's paid off."
Why do you think Brookside should be on DVD?
"I think Brookside should be on DVD because it's the soap that first set the boundaries in my own opinion, but I think my answer to that question is the same answer from a lot of other Brookie fans too. A lot of people wanted Channel 4 to repeat Brookside, but I thought you would only get one chance to see a particular episode, whereas with a DVD you could watch as many times as you want and relive all those classic moments and storylines over the 21 years it was on air."
What can you tell us about the petition?
"We currently have 5,233 fan signatures including cast members such as Dean Sullivan (Jimmy Corkhill), George Christopher ('Little' Jimmy Corkhill, also Ziggy from Grange Hill), Suzanne Collins (Nikki Shadwick), Paul Duckworth (Jack Michealson), Louis Emerick (Mick Johnson), Steven Cole (Leo Johnson), Steven and Stephanie Pinder (Max Farnham and Gabby Parr), Billie Clements (Imelda Clough) and John McArdle (Billy Corkhill), to name but a few. There are also a lot of others who played Steven Murray, Tinhead, Ali Gordon and more."
Tell us about the good news you had recently over a possible DVD release.
"The good news? You mean the fantastic news that 4DVD are now looking into producing a Brookside DVD for its 30th anniversary next year. We messaged 4DVD via Twitter to see if they would like to sponsor us and the reply was that they were already currently looking into making a DVD. 4DVD need to find out what fans want and then sort out the clearance issues."
Do you think it was a direct result of the campaign?
"We sent our petition list with a cover letter I typed up back in December 2010 and sent it out to Channel 4, Lime Pictures and Phil Redmond. As far as I know, this got the ball rolling and people talking. Since then, all this has happened."
You're now looking for fans to get involved with the campaign as the DVD gets into the research stages. How can they help?
"Yes, 4DVD have asked me to get as many replies from Brookside fans as I can, telling me what storylines they would like to see released onto DVD. I will then send them all to 4DVD so they get some idea of what fans want most. So please can all the Brookside fans email them to me directly to email@example.com."
If you had your choice, which storylines or episodes would you like to see on the DVD?
"To be honest I never saw a lot of the older stuff as I was not around, but I would like to see a lot of Harry Cross. But some of the later stuff would be brilliant like the Anthony Murray bullying storyline, the 2002 siege on the Close and the very last episode. There are so many."
What is it about Brookside that you enjoyed so much?
"I enjoyed it because I grew up with it - my mum and dad watched it when it was on and I'm from Liverpool too. I think it was the best thing in the TV industry that has come from Liverpool as it was on telly for 21 years, it led the way for other programmes and soaps as it was very gritty and did storylines no other programme would even dream of doing. Brookside did almost every storyline first and in the best possible way. We have seen storylines over the years since trying to overcome the Brookside versions but nothing can actually get it perfect like Brookie did!"
If the DVD does come out as expected, will you retire the campaign or keep up the pressure for more releases?
"That is a very good question, to be honest I probably wouldn't know for sure until the time comes. But thinking now, I probably would continue and try to promote the DVD as much as possible to gain as many sales as possible so 4DVD will think, 'Wow, there has actually been a massive interest in sales'. And then maybe try and do something new and up-to-date, maybe something like Brookside: Where Are They Now? or Brookside: Life After The Close to follow each family and what they are doing now. But that could only happen if the right actors and actresses are not tied down to another job."
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