Late November has traditionally been the time for the big switch-on when it comes to Liverpool’s Christmas lights.

In the 1950s, it was down to the Mayor to turn on the illuminations – usually with the aid of what looked like an over-sized fuse box!

The operation got slicker in the 1960s when celebrities like Ken Dodd and singer Tommy Steele kicked off festivities.

Brookside’s Doreen Sloane and David Easter with twins Alan and Steven Patterson, November 1984

Brookside’s Doreen Sloane and David Easter with twins Alan and Steven Patterson, November 1984

Now the big switch-on is a multi-site event complete with pop-up pantos, party elves and tap-dancing turkeys on the streets.

Back in 1984, it was the stars of Merseyside’s very own soap – Brookside – who drew the crowds to Church Street to witness the annual Christmas event.

Launched by Phil Redmond on Channel 4 in 1982, Brookside was starting to pick up in the ratings two years later as its characters became national figures.

Jenny Hesketh, Jason Hope, Sunetra Sarker and Danny McCall from Brookside, November 1989

Jenny Hesketh, Jason Hope, Sunetra Sarker and Danny McCall from Brookside, November 1989

Our photo shows Birkenhead actress Doreen Sloane, who played Annabelle Collins, along with David Easter who was Pat Hancock.

Switching the lights on with them are twins Alan and Steven Patterson. Brookside fans will remember they played Gary and ‘little’ George Jackson in the series.

Brookside characters were back on duty in 1989, this time in the shape of Jenny Hesketh, Jason Hope, Sunetra Sarker and Danny McCall. Hesketh played Louise Mitchell while Jason Hope was Rod Corkhill.

Jenny Hesketh, Jason Hope, Sunetra Sarker and Danny McCall from Brookside, November 1989

Jenny Hesketh, Jason Hope, Sunetra Sarker and Danny McCall from Brookside, November 1989

Danny McCall portrayed Owen Daniels, while Sunetra Sarker played Nisha Bartra from 1988 to 1990 and then returned from 2000 until 2003. 

Born in Liverpool, Sarker went on to star as Dr Zoe Hanna in the BBC medical drama Casualty and competed in the twelfth series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2014.

One of Brookside’s most recognised stars, Liverpool actor Michael Starke, turned on the festive lights for 1996 in front of a large crowd in the city centre.

Brookside actor Michael Starke who played Thomas ‘Sinbad’ Sweeney, November 1996

Brookside actor Michael Starke who played Thomas ‘Sinbad’ Sweeney, November 1996

Starke played window cleaner Thomas ‘Sinbad’ Sweeney on the soap for 16 years, getting into all kinds of scrapes before reappearing as head porter Kenneth Hopkirk in the ITV hospital drama The Royal.

Starke also had a stint on Granada soap Coronation Street from 2007 to 2008, playing kebab shop owner Jerry Morton.

In November 1988, it was the turn of comedian, singer and impressionist Faith Brown to entertain the Church Street crowds. 

Impressionist Faith Brown in Church Street, November 1988

Impressionist Faith Brown in Church Street, November 1988

Born in Liverpool, Brown attended St Francis De Sales School in Walton before singing in a vocal group with her brothers. She later became a solo singer before switching to comedy impressions.

Brown found fame on the ITV show Who Do You Do? From 1972 to 1976 alongside stars such as Russ Abbott, Michael Barrymore, Les Dennis, Dustin Gee and Freddie Starr.

It was laughs all the way in 1969 when Ken Dodd switched on the lights in his usual madcap style. He was back again a year later with a small army of children dressed as Diddymen.

Ken Dodd arrives in style in a vintage Renault, November 1970

Ken Dodd arrives in style in a vintage Renault, November 1970

As our picture shows, Dodd paraded through the city centre in a vintage 1911 Renault car, unmistakably dressed in a fur coat and classic Diddyman hat.

The Knotty Ash singer and comedian was at the height of his fame in 1960s and early 1970s – so much so that his popularity rivalled the Beatles!

His single Tears topped the UK singles charts for five weeks in 1965, becoming the third best-selling song of the 1960s.

Liverpool Mayor Alderman J. McMillan turns on the lights, December 1963

Liverpool Mayor Alderman J. McMillan turns on the lights, December 1963

Back in December 1963, it was down to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Liverpool to turn on the lights in Clayton Square – without the aid of any fancy switches or golden buttons!

Almost hidden behind a huge box of wires under the Christmas tree is Alderman J. McMillan. We’re sure he emerged unscathed!

Entertainer Tom O’Connor was the star attraction in November 1979. Born in Bootle, former teacher O’Connor found fame on the Granada TV show The Comedians.

TV personalities Tom O’Connor and Debbie Greenwood, December 1979

TV personalities Tom O’Connor and Debbie Greenwood, December 1979

Alongside him in the city centre is former beauty queen and TV presenter Debbie Greenwood. Born in Liverpool, Greenwood worked for Granada TV before moving to BBC’s Breakfast Time in 1985.

Finally, after all the buzz and excitement of the big switch-on, there’s time to reflect in the winter stillness of Clayton Square in December 1962.

Snow has fallen and Christmas trees lights are twinkling through the darkness. 

Clayton Square Christmas lights twinkle in the snow, December 1962

Clayton Square Christmas lights twinkle in the snow, December 1962

One of the square’s most prominent features was the Liverpool Picture House which changed its name a number of times down the years.

In our image it’s the Gala International Film Theatre, although it was also known as the Liverpool News Theatre and the Prince of Wales Theatre before it closed down as an entertainment venue in 1972. It then became a church.