How giants genius Jean-Luc Courcoult fell for Liverpool

Jean-Luc Courcoult Paris-born Jean-Luc Courcoult reportedly shunned other cities to return to Liverpool

The giant marionettes of French street theatre company Royal de Luxe are heading back to the streets of Liverpool to help mark the World War One centenary. But why does its eccentric director favour this UK city over others?

A group of red-uniformed Lilliputians will wake her, unfurling her green shamrock-decorated dress and gently stroking her face.

When she was first unveiled in Nantes from beneath a giant red gingham blanket, there was applause and cries of "regardez!" (look!). People leaned out of windows, straining for a better view.

In Liverpool, she has been lying in state at the most stately of locations - St George's Hall, the neo-classical splendour in front of Liverpool Lime Street station.

She snores loudly, her face is made of latex and she has been likened to an elderly Audrey Hepburn. At 25ft (7.4m) tall and weighing four tonnes, she needs 26 humans to move her.

Writer and director Jean-Luc Courcoult explains how his characters come to life

She is the Grandmother. Welcome to Liverpool's Giant Spectacular - and the world of Jean-Luc Courcoult.

He is the company's ebullient and eccentric director, the creative brain behind the giants who, despite their contrasting vocations, has much in common with the city's equally larger-than-life mayor.

Courcoult was born in Paris in 1955 and became interested in theatre during his teens, eventually leaving his family at 18 to study acting in Aix-en-Provence.

Willy Wonka
Joe Anderson and Jean-Luc Joe Anderson and Jean-Luc have formed an unlikely friendship

There, he met Didier Gallot-Lavallée and Veronique Loève, and formed the creative alliance now known as Royal De Luxe.

Believing it was easier to gather people outside to witness his art rather than bringing them into one room, Courcoult started developing the idea of the street theatre he now directs today.

Monsieur Courcoult defies definition, but fits the accepted mould of "eccentric" in his brightly coloured shirts and vast oversized thick-rimmed glasses. He has been likened to a real-life version of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka.

When the giants were last in Liverpool in April 2012, he narrowly avoided arrest when he jumped into the Mersey in a dramatic show of exuberance as his creations sailed away from the city.

He could have been seriously injured in the freezing waters; his rescuers were slightly bemused by the act of recklessness.

This time, no doubt, he will be a man flanked by marshals and other officials once the giants have finished their 23-mile stroll over three days, watched by up to one million people.

Royal de Luxe in numbers
Diver giant in 2012
  • The biggest Royal de Luxe audience was 3.5m people in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2010
  • Memories of August 1914 will tell the story of the Liverpool Pals, the 5,000 local men who answered Lord Kitchener's call to arms at the beginning of World War One
  • About 800,000 spectators visited Liverpool for Sea Odyssey in 2012
  • The 2012 show was said to have generated £32m for the local economy
  • Memories of August 1914 will be the giant grandmother's international debut

Click here for full coverage of the giants in Liverpool


Other British port cities, including Southampton, reportedly approached Courcoult's company but were met with a firm "non". The giants travel on to Limerick in Ireland in September, a place not too dissimilar to Liverpool.

Enigmatic and difficult to pin down, Monsieur Courcoult describes Liverpool as "a rhinoceros."

He does not further elaborate the analogy, but with Gallic hand gestures he seems to indicate that it is a tough place, a resilient place. A rhinoceros, then.

On the city's residents, he is more forthcoming. People in Liverpool "like to talk about the past, tell family stories and keep them alive", he says.

It would seem this is why he loves the city so much - Courcoult is a natural storyteller - albeit through the medium of the large marionettes.

Liverpool waterfront Liverpool, says Jean-Luc Courcoult, is like a "rhinoceros"

Cackling loudly as he describes his relationship with its mayor, Courcoult says: "I love, love, love Joe Anderson." He does not explain why, but laughs loudly and mimes putting his arms around his well-padded middle.

It can be tricky getting coherent answers from a creative genius.

Nevertheless, others have and Courcoult has been quoted as saying: "There's a history and a past to Liverpool that gives the city an identity and civic pride."

So why do the two larger-than-life, middle-aged men get on so well?

On the surface, they are not what anyone would consider natural allies. Courcoult clearly has the edge when it comes to creativity, but Anderson has his own vision for Liverpool, and his unique no-nonsense approach.

You could be forgiven for assuming they would not like each other, which is what makes their relationship so interesting.

Jean-Luc Courcoult and Joe Anderson The men who brought the giants to Liverpool have formed an unlikely friendship

Joe Anderson is a former social worker who grew up in Dingle and left school at 16. He is of Liverpool, a union man and career politician willing to stand up to the government when he thinks it necessary.

His pride and passion can be his Achilles heel - Twitter spats with critics and Eric Pickles are testament to this.

Always outspoken and never predictable, he has clashed with the government over the spending review and with bus companies over the sudden and controversial abandonment of bus lanes.

But when he sees a benefit to the city, he welcomes it with open arms - and Royal de Luxe's artists are very welcome.

"Jean Luc and his team have fitted right into Liverpool and it is no surprise really. His vision, determination and leadership is shared by many in this city," he says.

"His passion and flair has allowed his art to be part of people's everyday lives - creating memories that will remain with us forever.

"It has always been a pleasure to work with Jean Luc, his character ensures there is never a dull moment. He's a great friend of the city."

Grandmother Giant asleep in St George's Hall Grandmother Giant is currently "sleeping", but will soon wake up
Grandmother Giant in Nantes Once awake, Grandmother Giant will spend three days roaming the city

Claire McColgan, head of culture at the council, draws parallels between the two men.

"Jean-Luc is drawn to Liverpool as he loved the people and their honesty," she says. "People in Liverpool love larger-than-life characters, which is why he and the mayor probably get on so well."

Ms McColgan says Courcoult is very particular about who he works with and "has said no to many major cities, including Southampton".

"He loves the people of Liverpool and their honesty, there's a real charisma about the place," McColgan adds.

The last time the giants were in Liverpool, Little Girl Giant and her uncle - an enormous 50ft (15.2m) diver - emerged from the Mersey as they tried to find one another.

Little Girl Giant In 2012 the little girl searched for her uncle...
Deep sea diver giant ... a deep-sea diver who spent his time looking for her

"It's so accessible that even the hardest-hearted people will have their hearts melted," Ms McColgan says.

"My enduring memory of last time is seeing a guy in a high-vis jacket off a building site lean down and pat Xolo the dog. I saw older people brought out of sheltered accommodation with blankets over them, crying. It was a collective memory."

This time, she adds, the emotional weight will be heavier.

"There's a very different dynamic with Grandmother Giant and the Little Girl," says Ms McGolgan. "She is absolutely human there's a humanity to her expressions. To thousands of people they are real."

Each giant will be tended by Lilliputians who handle the cranes, pulleys, electrics and hydraulics. During afternoons, the Giants nap and at night they sleep, snoring heavily.

'Collective magic'

Courcoult and his team visited care homes and former King's Regiment members around Liverpool to collect indirect memories of the war. These memories will be used during the performance but any more details are banned - it will ruin the surprise.

Giants don't come cheap. The estimated budget for Memories of August 1914 is £1.7m to £2m, underwritten by the city of Liverpool and co-funded by the Arts Council, World War One centenary arts commissioner 14-18 Now, the European Regional Development Fund and private sponsorship.

Memories of 2012 might still be fresh as spectators turn their attention to 2014, but Ms McColgan says they are not in competition with Sea Odyssey and the two events can co-exist happily creating a "collective magic".

If success follows, it will be the collective vision shared by two unlikely allies - the mayor and the creative genius - that helped pull it off.

BBC News Online will be following the giants through Liverpool with live text coverage, pictures and video of the events. For more details, visit the BBC's dedicated Liverpool Giants page.

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Min. Night 12 °C

BBC Local Live

    Good evening 18:00:

    Officials at the stadium are now getting ready for fans to arrive for the Lille v Everton match, which was marred by clashes earlier as bottles were thrown at riot police. You can follow live coverage of the game on the BBC Sport website.

     A view inside the ground prior to the UEFA Europa League Group H match between Lille and Everton

    That's all from this live coverage for today. BBC Merseyside Local Live will return from 08:00 on Friday.

    'Shops closed in Lille square' 17:57:

    French newspaper La Voix Du Nord has a video showing some of the trouble involving Everton fans in Lille, as riot police formed a tight unit on the main square and bottles were thrown in their direction.

    Some people moved towards riot officers and remonstrated angrily before being dragged away by friends. The paper adds most shops in Grand Place are now closed.

    Fans arrive at stadium 17:52:

    Fans have started entering the Grand Stade Lille Metropole ahead of the Europa League Group H match between LOSC Lille and Everton, which kicks off at 18:00.

    Getty images
    'Hooligan' sparked clash 17:48: Liverpool Echo

    Violent clashes between French police and Everton fans in Lille were sparked by the sighting of a suspected football hooligan.

    Mounted police at Lille stadium 17:45:

    This mounted officer is seen looking on outside the ground prior to the Europa League match between Lille and Everton at Grand Stade Lille Metropole.

    Mounted police look on outside the ground prior to the UEFA Europa League Group H match between LOSC Lille and Everton at Grand Stade Lille Metropole

    Officers will be hoping the game goes off without a hitch after Blues fans were hit with tear gas during scuffles with riot police.

    Rubber bullets 'were used' 17:39: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    French riot police did use rubber bullets to disperse large groups of Everton fans in Lille, the news agency AP has reported.

    The claim comes after Everton released a statement saying rubber bullets had not been fired by police.

    I contacted French police earlier this afternoon and they could not confirm whether the bullets had or had not been used.

    Fans singing in the square 17:30:

    Here's a photo of Everton fans in Lille shortly before police fired tear gas at the crowd of supporters.

    Thankfully things seem to be calmer now.

    Everton fans in Lille
    Police 'spotted troublemaker' 17:17:

    The news group Agence France-Presse (AFP) is reporting that French officials say the trouble started when a British police officer spotted an Everton fan who is a known hooligan, and another man with a record for dealing drugs.

    It said French police wanted to arrest the pair, but were threatened by English fans and took refuge in a book store. Riot police then fired tear gas and some English fans hurled beer cans and other projectiles.

    Fans in town centre 17:10:

    This photograph of the Grand Place in Lille, as it is now, has been sent in by Everton fan Liam Coyle.

    Grande Place, Lille

    You can send us your photos or comments on email, Facebook or Twitter.

    Lille v Everton trouble: What we know 17:00:

    Everton fans have been caught up in scuffles in the build up to their Europa League match against Lille. This is what we know at 17:00:

    • Up to 3,000 supporters gathered in Grand Place in the town
    • Mood was "good-natured" with fans playing football
    • Bottles were thrown and riot police arrived
    • At 14:30 local time, loud bangs were heard and tear gas was fired
    • Club advises supporters to avoid the main square

    You can listen live to BBC Radio Merseyside here.

    'Leader of fans arrested' 16:54:

    French TV channel BFM TV reports the "leader" of a group of Everton fans was arrested and taken into custody by police.

    It adds: "He will not be able to attend the game against Lille tonight."

    'More police than fans' 16:50: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    A deputy head steward at Goodison Park who travelled to Lille with the supporters' group and was caught up in the Grand Place when police arrived says there were "more officers than fans".

    Margaret Heywood, 54, who lives in Anfield, said: "You want to see the police presence here, there are horses, there are riot policeman there are more police officers than fans.

    "There was no need for the police to go in like that. I went up to one of them and asked him if there was any need, and he said the fans were all drunk. But they're not, I showed him what we were drinking and that was bottles of water."

    'Almost like gunshots' 16:39: Chris Long BBC News

    Everton fan Neil Roberts has been in touch about the disturbance in Lille.

    Police and Everton fans in Lille

    He says the atmosphere in the city has been "very good, with everybody playing football together in the square" but he heard "four loud bangs at about 14:30 local time [13:30 BST] - almost like gunshots or flares going off".

    "As far as I'm concerned nobody was causing any trouble - there might have been a couple of people throwing bottles but there are 18,000 here having a great time. I saw police running in, a ball of smoke and Everton fans all running away - it's now all calm."

    Police 'were chasing someone' 16:27: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    I've spoken to Merseyside Police who have liaison officers in Lille. They say trouble started when French police chased someone into the Grand Place de Lille, where Everton fans were congregating.

    Everton fan in Lille

    Police said CS gas canisters were fired but reports of rubber bullets and baton rounds seem to be inaccurate.

    'No animosity at all' 16:18: Chris Long BBC News

    David Capstick, who travelled to Lille to watch Everton play, calls about what has been happening.

    He says there was "lots of singing and chanting going on" in the square, but then "a few bottles started to fly and the police came in firing tear gas".

    "It was more a case of police getting a little bit heavy-handed with the situation - there was no animosity at all between the locals and fans." He says the situation is "all very relaxed" now but there is still "a police presence".

    'No need for tear gas' 16:10:

    Riot police in body armour could also be seen huddling together behind their shields after trouble flared before the Lille v Everton European tie.

    One man with a Merseyside accent could be seen pleading with officers, saying: "There was kids there, there was no need for tear gas." Later fans could be seen singing in the town's Grand Place as blue flares were lit.

    Everton's supporters sing as they stand next to a burning blue flare on the Grand Place
    Everton steward 'saw rubber bullets' 16:04: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    I've just spoken to Margaret Heywood, 54, who is a deputy head steward at Goodison Park and has travelled to Lille with the Everton supporters' group.

    Police in Lille

    She said: "We were all in the square, about 1,000 of us, there was no trouble, the flags were up, everyone was enjoying the day, and the next minute the police just started firing into the square.

    "It was awful, there were children, people in wheelchairs, it was awful. They were firing rubber bullets, tear gas. I saw a young lad on the floor, the rubber bullet got him in the ankle."

    'Fans throwing bottles' 15:56:

    Video has emerged apparently showing people throwing bottles at each other in build up to the Lille v Everton Europa League match tonight in the French town.

    French riot police officers run after soccer fans during clashes which broke out in the main square of Lille,

    An explosion can be heard on the footage and the square, called the Grand Place, is seen filling with tear gas.

    Martinez sees match as a 'final' 15:50:

    As trouble flared between police and Everton fans in Lille town centre, Blues boss Roberto Martinez said his side need to be at their best in the match this evening.

     Everton boss Roberto Martinez is wary of Thursday's Europa League opponents Lille

    He said he sees it as a Europa League group-stage "final". The Toffees are top of Group H with four points, while Lille have two points and are third.

    'No rubber bullets fired' 15:44:

    Everton have released a statement on the situation involving their fans in Lille ahead of today's Europa League match.

    Fans in Lille

    "We are monitoring the situation, and advising fans to stay away from the main square. We've been told by the French authorities that rubber bullets have not been fired by the police," it says.

    'Fans enjoyed a kick-about' 15:36:

    This was the good-natured scene before Everton supporters reported being hit with tear gas in Lille on the Grand Place hours before the match, which kicks off at 19:00.

    Everton fans in Lille
    Riot police in Lille 15:27: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    French riot police are pictured running on the Grand Place in Lille, where Everton's supporters have gathered hours before a Europa League football match at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d"Ascq.

    French riot police in Lille
    Everton fan speaks of explosions 15:16: Rumeana Jahangir Reporter BBC News Online

    I've just spoken to an Everton fan from Wirral, Mike Cleave, who has tickets for tonight's game.

    He said: "There were some Everton fans playing football in the main square. It was all well-natured."

    He added that "everyone" is saying police threw two tear-gas canisters and he saw two explosions from a side road. He said that from his own experience there have been "no major issues".

    News on the hour 15:00: Phil Cooper Reporter, BBC Radio Merseyside

    Everton Football Club is advising fans in Lille to avoid the main square, after reports police fired tear gas.

    Images on twitter appear to show trouble flaring up in the Grand Place square.

    A spokesperson for the club has told us one person has been arrested.

    Listen live to the bulletin at 15:00

    Calm in Lille but fans shaken 14:49: Liverpool Echo

    The Echo's Everton FC correspondent, Greg O'Keefe, tweets: It's calm again in main square. Fans singing and chanting. Many shaken by what happened still though #EFC

    Everton fans in Lille 14:42:

    This photograph was taken in Everton by Football Away Days who tweeted: Everton fans in Lille today. #EFC

    Everton fans in Lille
    'Shocking pictures' says fan 14:34:

    James Corbett tweets: I was in Lille's grand place 90 minutes ago. Loads of blues, all very good natured. Shocked to see these pics now.

    'No protection' for Everton fans 14:27:

    Football fans have been tweeting about the situation in Lille.

    @Batucadaplease said: Disgusting how @Everton fans are being treated in Lille, absolutely no protection from the police

    Photo: Tear gas in Lille 14:26:

    JS Guillerez tweeted this photo from Lille showing tear gas being used as Everton fans gather in the main square. More to follow

    Fans tear gas in Lille
    Rubber bullets used on fans 14:12: Breaking News Liverpool Echo

    tweets: Police have fired rubber bullets at #Everton fans. One man has been hit in the head

    Everton fans clash with police 14:02: Breaking News

    There are reports that police in Lille have used tear gas in clashes with Everton fans, according to Everton FC.

    The club said: "We advise Everton fans in Lille to avoid the main square in the city centre."

    Images have appeared on Twitter of Everton supporters having congregated en masse at Lille's Grand Place square.

    Everton fan in 'tear gas' reports Breaking News Liverpool Echo

    tweets: Breaking news: #EFC fans tear-gassed in #Lille - reports.

    Your photos 13:45:

    This photograph of the beautiful autumn colours in Calderstones Park has been sent in by Brian Stafford.

    Calderstones Park

    We always like to showcase your pictures. You can send them in on email, Facebook or Twitter.

    Your football no-nos 13:37:

    Earlier, BBC Sport asked on Twitter what are your #footballnonos after Mario Balotelli's half-time shirt swap.

    Michael Thackray tweets: #footballnonos players that grab the ball in a strop every time they go down, before the referee has even blown. Book them for handling!

    Raheem Sterling

    Mac Jerry tweets: Players biting other players. Oh come on...#justsaying #footballnonos

    @ROBLFC1 tweets: @BBCSport #footballnonos playing no striker against the best team in the world

    @LeePrice1989 tweets: #footballnonos leaving before the end, you wouldn't do it at a cinema before knowing the ending so why do it at the football

    Matthew Bevis tweets: Players pointing at their name on the back of their shirt when they score. Egocentric rubbish! #footballnonos

    Meals 'wheeled out' 13:22: Wirral Globe

    A charity set up to provide meals on wheels for elderly Wirral residents marked a major milestone by taking to the streets of Bromborough with a collection of vintage prams.

    Children remember 13:11: Jessica Robbins BBC Radio Merseyside

    I'm with the children of St Margaret's Anfield primary school, who are commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War One.

    Children in Anfield

    You can hear more from me with Simon Hoban on BBC Radio Merseyside from 16:00.

    News on the hour 13:00: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Everton fans attacked by a group of up to 50 men in Lille last night claim police officers in the French city also used pepper spray on them.

    Two supporters needed hospital treatment - the son of one man injured has spoken to BBC Radio Merseyside about what happened.

    Listen live to the bulletin at 13:00

    Everton fan pictured 12:55: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    Keith Broughton (pictured) was one of the Everton fans who needed to go to hospital after about 50 Lille supporters, armed with metal chairs, attacked them in the city centre last night.

    Everton fan

    He was left needing five stitches after being punched and hit with a chair outside a bar.

    The teams face each other in a Europa League group-stage match in the northern French city later.

    Balotelli 'a panic buy' 12:46: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    There's been lots of talk about Mario Balotelli this morning. Firstly, Brendan Rodgers says he will "deal" with his striker after he agreed to swap shirts with Real's Pepe before half time last night.

    Mario Balotelli

    Jamie Carragher told Mario was a "panic buy" and thinks the Italian won't be at Liverpool next season because he's failed to make an impact.

    Coming up 12:34: Roger Phillips BBC Radio Merseyside

    A charity set up by Prince Charles to support older workers says that more than a million of the over 50s have been pushed out of work.

    Prince Charles

    We're asking you what you think. Should older people stay in work for a longer time? If they do, how will it affect younger people trying to get a job? Call the phone-in on 0151 709 9333 or contact us on Facebook.

    Church 'at risk' 12:17: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    The Rector of a Liverpool church says it does have a future, despite it being classed as at risk by English Heritage.

    St Bride's Church, Percy Street, Liverpool

    Reverand Guy Elsmore from St Bride's on Percy Street, Toxteth, says the Grade II listed church has just received money from the Heritage Lottery Fund which should help plans to renovate it.

    Everton fan describes attack 12:09:

    An Everton fan has told BBC Radio Merseyside how his dad was punched and hit with a chair when 50 Lille supporters, armed with metal chairs, attacked a bar.

    Two people suffered minor facial injuries during the attack ahead of tonight's Europa League tie.

    Andrew Broughton said: "My dad had gone outside to call my mum and he looked round and saw men coming towards them. A chair hit him across the face and it cut his eyebrow."

    Mr Broughton said his father, whose cheek was bleeding, needed five stitches.

    News on the hour 11:59: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Everton fans attacked by a group of up to 50 men in Lille last night claim police officers in the French city also used pepper spray on them.

    Two supporters needed hospital treatment - the son of one man injured has spoken to BBC Radio Merseyside about what happened.

    Listen live to the bulletin at 12:00

    Scattered showers 11:55: Charlie Slater Weather Presenter, BBC East Midlands Today

    tweets: A scattering of light and drizzly showers around today in the NW but otherwise dry & overcast. Here's today's pic...

    Weather map
    Singer Stardust dies 11:45:

    Singer Alvin Stardust, who made his name in the Liverpool Merseybeat scene, died this morning aged 72 after a short illness, his manager said.

    Alvin Stardust
    Court 'hysteria' over 2011 riots 11:31: Liverpool Echo

    Liverpool academics have accused courts of "collective hysteria" over sentences for the 2011 summer riots - saying they acted in a similar way to the people who acted out of character during the outbreak of violence.

    Wirral skyline 11:23: Andy Gill BBC North West Tonight

    tweets: One from last night I didn't get round to posting. #Liverpool #Wirral #Mersey

    Wirral skyline
    11:11: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    The North Warehouse on Stanley Dock and the Royal Insurance Building are two historic sites in Liverpool no longer at risk, according to English Heritage.

    Royal Insurance Building

    Fifty-four remain at risk in Merseyside and 10 sites have been added to the register this year including the Grade II listed St Brides Church on Percy Street.

    Your views 11:06:

    We've introduced BBC Local Live from our base in Liverpool to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. Tell us what you think.

    News on the hour 10:59: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    BBC Radio Merseyside has spoken to the son of an Everton fan taken to hospital in Lille after fans were attacked outside a bar overnight.

    The attack happened ahead of tonight's Europa League game and Everton are keeping in touch with Merseyside police officers, who are in France, as security advisors.

    Listen live to the bulletin at 11:00

    Teen wins singing contest 10:54: Wirral Globe

    A Wirral teenager has been crowned the winner of an international talent competition.

    Tea for soldiers 10:41: Jessica Robbins BBC Radio Merseyside

    I'm going out to St Margaret's Primary School Anfield where pupils who have been learning about World War One will be serving afternoon tea to soldiers.

    The Lord Mayor of Liverpool will be there along with serving local soldiers and re-enactors portraying the story of the Liverpool Pals.

    Your football no-nos 10:34: BBC Sport

    tweets: After Mario Balotelli's half-time shirt swap annoyed @LFC boss Brendan Rodgers, what are your other #footballnonos ?

    Rodgers gets shirty
    Heritage at risk 10:29: Chris Long BBC News

    I'm looking at English Heritage's list of sites in need of conservation, which has been published this morning.

    Ten sites on Merseyside have been added to the At Risk register - five churches and five conservation areas.

    In Cheshire, 13 churches have been added to the list.

    M56 lane closed 10:16: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    There are reports of a lane closed on the exit slip road from the M56 eastbound to Preston Brook at junction 11, due to the loss of a shed load of scrap metal.

    Liverpool 'sloppy' says Rodgers 10:11:

    Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says his side conceded "sloppy" goals in their 3-0 Champions League defeat to Real Madrid at Anfield.

    Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

    Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, and two from Karim Benzema leave Liverpool with just three points from their opening three group games.

    News on the hour 10:00: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Two Everton fans suffered minor face injuries after a gang stormed a bar in Lille last night armed with metal chairs, the club has confirmed.

    A group of about 50 people attacked Blues supporters who have made the trip to the French city for the Europa League game there tonight.

    Listen live to the bulletin at 10:00.

    Police in Lille 09:52: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    Merseyside Police has released a statement about the Everton fans attacked in Lille. It says: "Approximately 50 Lille supporters attacked Everton supporters in a bar in the town centre.

    "Two Everton supporters suffered minor injuries and have since been discharged.

    "Merseyside Police officers are in Lille to support the policing operation of tonight's game."

    Gran held captive 09:31: Liverpool Echo

    A Merseyside gran today spoke of becoming the victim of a "horror movie" as she was held captive and tortured for three days by her estranged husband.

    Painful lesson for Reds 09:26: Phil McNulty Chief football writer

    Liverpool were given a painful lesson in how far the Champions League has moved on in their absence as they were completely outclassed by holders Real Madrid at Anfield.

    Cristiano Ronaldo's opener against Liverpool

    Cristiano Ronaldo led Real's charge with a superb opener after 23 minutes and Karim Benzema added two before the interval to seal a 3-0 win at Anfield.

    Drone flights shown on YouTube 09:10:

    Drones which could seriously injure or kill are being flown over cities and towns across England, despite laws designed to protect the public.


    Dozens of YouTube clips show the aircraft, which can be bought for £300, over populated areas including over Anfield while people gathered outside.

    News on the hour 09:00: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Two Everton fans suffered minor face injuries after a gang stormed a bar in Lille last night armed with metal chairs, the club has confirmed.

    A group of about 50 people attacked Blues supporters who have made the trip to the French city for the Europa League game there tonight.

    Listen live to the bulletin at 09:00.

    Everton fans attacked 08:59: Breaking News Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    In the last few minutes, Everton officials have confirmed to BBC Radio Merseyside two of their fans suffered minor facial injuries after a gang stormed a bar in Lille last night armed with metal chairs. More on this later.

    My poppy 08:55: Tony Snell BBC Radio Merseyside

    tweets: My Poppy is with me everyday on my old headphones @bbcmerseyside. The symbol of the poppy is 100 years old. #Poppy

    Snelly's headphone
    Top headlines
    Slow traffic 08:49: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    There is congestion between Johnston Avenue in Bootle and A5038 Netherton Way in Liverpool due to an accident involving two cars and an oil spillage.

    Cannabis farm found 08:41: Tom Mullen BBC News Online

    A cannabis farm containing hundreds of plants worth more than £500,000 has been discovered in a disused community centre in Birkenhead.

    White deer on the loose 08:32:

    BBC Radio Merseyside tweets: We've taken calls saying a white deer is on the loose on A58 in Maghull! Have you seen it?

    Balotelli reprimand 08:25: BBC Sport

    Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli faces a reprimand from manager Brendan Rodgers after swapping shirts with Real Madrid's Pepe at half-time in the 3-0 Champions League defeat at Anfield.

    Mario Balotelli
    Mild and showery 08:20: Sara Blizzard Weather Presenter

    It is going to be a milder but rather cloudy day with brisk winds and outbreaks of rain.

    Thursday weather

    The rain may turn heavier and more persistent at times, particularly towards western hills.

    News on the hour 08:00: Giulia Bould BBC Radio Merseyside

    Reports from Lille this morning claim Everton fans have been attacked by a 100-strong gang ahead of their Europa League game in the French city tonight.

    Some supporters were injured after they were hit with metal chairs by the group who stormed a pub.

    Listen live to the bulletin at 08:00.

    Good morning 08:00: Julia Bryson BBC Local Live

    Hello there, I'll be here with you today with all your news, sport, travel and weather updates from across Merseyside. If you'd like to contribute, you can send in your photos or comments on email, Facebook or Twitter.



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