The movie Letter to Brezhnev was truly a family affair for the creative Clarke clan of Merseyside.
Brookside scriptwriter Frank Clarke wrote the screenplay and his sisters Margi and Angela both played leading roles in the highly acclaimed production.
The 1985 romantic comedy told the story of two Russian sailors, played by Peter Firth and Alfred Molina, who meet two women from Kirby, portrayed by Marji Clarke and Alexandra Pigg, on a night ashore in Liverpool.
Marji, who plays Teresa, is looking for fun with sailor Sergei while Pigg’s character Elaine dreams of leaving Liverpool with her Russian beau Peter.
The humour and pathos is acted out against an austere backdrop of unemployment and lack of opportunity in the 1980s. Some of the characters aspire no further than the local ‘chicken factory’ or slaughterhouse.
But there is hope too as Elaine battles all the odds to be reunited with Peter – even to the extent of writing a letter to Russian premier Leonid Brezhnev.
Strangely enough, Firth and Pigg actually ended up marrying in real life on Christmas Eve 2017, three decades after they appeared in Letter to Brezhnev!
Born in Knotty Ash, Pigg attended Holly Lodge Girls’ Grammar School before playing Petra Taylor in Brookside in 1982.
Her films include Smart Money in 1986, Strapless (1989) and Chicago Joe and the Showgirl (1990). She appeared with Roger Moore and Michael Caine in the 1990 movie Bullseye.
Firth was a leading child actor before playing Peter in Letter to Brezhnev. He was gang leader Scooper in Here Come the Double Deckers and Archie Weekes in The Flaxton Boys.
In 1973, he played troubled teenager Alan Strang in Peter Shaffer’s play Equus at the National Theatre and repeated the role in the 1977 film version starring Richard Burton.
As well as appearing in many film and TV roles over the years, Firth has recently played Sir Harry Pearce in the BBC spy saga Spooks.
Actor Alfred Molina probably got his big break on Letter to Brezhnev as his career took off after 1985 with starring roles in a number of films, including Prick Up Your Ears in 1989 and Hancock in 1991.
Marji Clarke, who was brought up in Kirby, was well-known in the North West for presenting the late night entertainment magazine show What’s On as well as appearing in Brookside in 1983.
She later claimed her brother Frank wrote her into the Brookside episodes as there was a big gas bill she couldn’t pay!
After Letter to Brezhnev, she starred as Queenie in the long-running BBC series Making Out and landed lead roles in movies The Dressmaker in 1988 and Strike It Rich in 1990.
Her sister Angela, who was Josie in Letter to Brezhnev, played Colette Daly in the TV drama Soldier Soldier as well as making appearances in Coronation Street, Brookside and The Bill.
Chris Bernard, the Liverpool-born director of Letter to Brezhnev, was company manager of the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool as well as writing scripts for Brookside.
He has directed a number of prestigious stage productions including The Maids by Jean Genet and The Immortalist by Heathcote Williams.
There was a familiar ring to the soundtrack of Letter to Brezhnev. Sandie Shaw re-recorded her single Always Something There to Remind Me for the film and Bronski Beat sang Hit That Perfect Beat. It became a hit in the UK and Australia.