Just over 25 years ago this month, the cast of the TV soap Brookside lined up with its creator Phil Redmond to launch a £100,000 charity appeal for Barnardo’s.
At the time, the serial was at its dramatic zenith. Abusive husband and father Trevor Jordache had been murdered and buried under the patio in one of the most memorable storylines in British soaps.
And Beth Jordache, played by Anna Friel, was about to make history by sharing TV’s first pre-watershed lesbian kiss with Margaret Clemence (Nicola Stephenson).
By the time the Barnardo’s picture was taken in 1993, the stars of the series were long established as household names.
Brookside was more than a decade old. It was first broadcast on Channel 4’s opening night on November 2nd 1982 – and never looked back.
Michael Starke, who played Thomas ‘Sinbad’ Sweeney, was in the Barnardo’s picture. So was Dean Sullivan who portrayed Jimmy Corkhill and Alex Fletcher who played Jacqui Dixon for 13 years.
Also in the line-up was Louis Emerick, who played Mick Johnson, Kazia Pelka (Anna Wolska), and Gabrielle Glaister (Patricia Farnham).
Filmed on a real Liverpool housing estate, with sound technicians hiding round doors and cupboards, Brookside gripped the public’s imagination from its first broadcast.
More than nine million viewers tuned in during the mid-1980s to watch its irresistible mix of humour and unvarnished realism.
What the cast didn’t know in September 1993 was that Brookside had started its slow decline. Viewing figures tailed off in the late 1990s and were in a terminal state by 2002.
The show was cancelled in June 2003 – and the final episode on November 4th 2003 was watched by just two million viewers.
The stars who lined up for the Barnardo’s appeal all went their separate ways after 2003. Some found parts in soaps like Hollyoaks and Coronation Street, while others moved to TV dramas, including Heartbeat and The Royal.
Liverpool actor Michael Starke played window cleaner Thomas Sweeney in Brookside for 16 years before appearing as head porter Kenneth Hopkirk in hospital drama The Royal.
His schemes got him into scrapes in both TV shows. No-one will forget his wheeze to supply turkeys for Christmas. One was so fresh it was still alive – and got christened Trevor!
Starke was briefly in Coronation Street in 2007 as kebab shop owner Jerry Morton – but producers wrote him and his screen family out of the series in September 2008.
Kazia Pelka starred in prime-time police drama Heartbeat where she played district nurse Maggie Bolton. She also appeared as Chrissy Costello in the Channel 5 soap Family Affairs from 2003 until the final show in December 2005.
More recently, Pelka portrayed Carole Middleton in the 2011 American TV production William and Catherine: A Royal Romance.
Gabrielle Glaister played Patricia Farnham, the long-suffering partner of Max Farnham (Steven Pinder) for six years on Brookside from 1990 to 1996. She also made three appearances as ‘Bob’ in the Blackadder historical comedy series.
Toxteth-born actor Louis Emerick was popular taxi driver and shopkeeper Mick Johnson in Brookside from 1989 to 2001. He played PC Walsh in 55 episodes of Last of the Summer Wine and came third in Celebrity Masterchef 2008.
Recently he appeared in Coronation Street as Liz McDonald’s love interest Mike Thornberry. Other credits include Waterloo Road, The Bill and Benidorm.
Liverpool actor Dean Sullivan played barman turned history teacher Jimmy Corkhill for 17 years from 1986 to 2003 – the longest serving cast member in Brookside’s history. He was involved in many major storylines, ranging from drug addiction to attempted suicide.
Sullivan took to the stage as a member of the Liverpool-based Neptune Theatre Company, appearing in the Willy Russell play Breezeblock Park.
Actress Alex Fletcher, born in Childwall, was Jacqui Dixon in Brookside from 1990 to 2003. She qualified as a fitness instructor in 2009 and joined the cast of Hollyoaks as Diane O’Connor in 2010.
Like Emerick, she was also a contestant on Celebrity Masterchef in 2010.