England

Brookside: Liverpool families move on to the close

Brookside Close sign
Image caption Fans still flock to the close in West Derby on a daily basis

It was once the setting for murder, rape, incest, drink, drugs and sex - welcome to your new home on Brookside Close.

The Liverpool cul-de-sac made famous in the television soap opera Brookside has been brought back to its former "glory" and new tenants have moved in. Though they are hoping for a quieter life.

At its height, Brookside regularly attracted eight million viewers, witnessing everything from the patio burial of Trevor Jordache to British television's first pre-watershed lesbian kiss.

It was on Channel 4 for 21 years but when ratings slumped it was axed in 2003.

The 13 properties in West Derby, in the north eastern suburbs of Liverpool, sat empty for a number of years until they were bought at auction by a local businessman in December 2008.

Once restored, the developer placed an advert in a local paper for houses to rent in Brookside Close.

'Bad bits'

The first tenants are now in the cul-de-sac and live a relatively normal life in comparison to the past occupants.

Ria Font, who helps manage the houses, said: "The developer's a local lad, he was never going to knock it down, that's why he bought the houses so another company wouldn't come along and do that.

"He knew how important it was for the area, it's a little piece of history, it put Liverpool on the map.

"The fact that people still remember it says it all, people are in here every day taking pictures, it never ends, it shows the level of affection people have for the programme."

She added: "We wanted to make a real sense of community, and we have. Everyone looks out for everyone else, the kids play together, just like the original concept for the programme - though obviously without all the bad bits."

Image caption Numbers five to 10 were used on screen, houses one to four were used for production

Those "bad bits" began right from the start of the soap opera's life when in 1982 the Grant family moved into number five. Barry Grant became the show's main villain and featured in the very first episode and the very last.

The set was purposely built by producers who wanted to give it more realism than homes in previous programmes. Numbers five to 10 featured on screen, while numbers one to four housed the canteen and production units.

Not long after the Grants moved in they were followed by the likes of the Sullivans, Corkhills, Rogers, Johnsons, Crosbies, Farnhams, Dixons, Shadwicks and Simpsons.

'Imagine the headlines'

But it was 1993 when the Jordache family moved in to Number 10 that the soap began arguably its most notorious plot line.

After years of mentally and sexually abusing his daughters, his wife Mandy and oldest child Beth, played by Anna Friel, stabbed him to death and, with the help of window cleaner Sinbad, buried him under the patio.

Ed Taylor lives next door in what was number nine.

He said: "In the programme it was our conservatory that was built which disrupted the foundations and Trevor's body was found. Fingers crossed nothing like that ever happens, could you imagine the headlines?

Image caption Ed and Abby Taylor live next door to where Trevor Jordache's body was buried under the patio

"My mates raised their eyebrows when we moved in, you can't get more Scouse than this. Every time I drive in I think of Brookside, it's instantly recognisable, every morning I open the curtains and I see the bungalow and where the Dixons lived."

Mr Taylor's daughter Abby, 13, said: "It does sound as if it was a good show, it's cool to say I live on a film set. My mates aren't that impressed but their mums are all really keen to come round."

With the amount of fans still flocking to the street, a gate may eventually be put up to give privacy, but at the moment the residents remain slightly bemused by it all.

Two Scotsmen on a visit to Liverpool decided to call in and see the close for themselves. Michael McIntosh said: "We were talking about what had happened to Brookside, stuck the address in the sat-nav and came for a look. We were always fans, it's great, pretty surreal."

Carole Robertson-Edgar, who lives in the bungalow which was once home to Harry Cross, said she is used to fans in the street.

"Just recently some people asked if they could take a picture of my house, they were from an Australian Brookside appreciation society, they had travelled all this way, it's amazing," she said.

"Back in the day it was on a par with Coronation Street and EastEnders, it's a great pity it was axed. It launched the careers of many Liverpudlian actors."

She added: "It's very quiet living here, great people live here, we all get on well and it's nothing like how it was portrayed on television."

The show bowed out eight years ago with one of the best-known characters, Jimmy Corkhill, declaring "game over" on the boarded up houses and changing the sign "Brookside Close" to "Brookside Close-d".

The street is back open now, just a little more peaceful.

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