As Glasgow prepares to get soapy with
Brookside, cast member Karen Drury explains why rival shows can sud off. Words: Peter Ross
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? That‘s a question very pertinent to Brookside. Channel 4’s long-running Merseyside soap. and one which may well be asked over the course of two Brookside — Behind The Scenes days hosted by Glasgow University.
Brookie and Hollyoaks creator Phil Redmond and a team of writers. crew and actors — possibly including Karen Drury (Susannah Farnham). Louis Emerick (Mick Johnson) and Carol Connor (Carmel O’Leary) — will shoot a scene from the successful Merseyside soap and discuss the production process as well as the show’s continuing appeal. The first of the two days is open to the
public. Brookside. along with Coronation Street and
EastEnders. is one of Britain’s
most popular soap operas. The series began in I982 and now regularly draws in 6.5 million viewers. having reached an audience peak in 1995 when 8.5 million people tuned in to see the verdict of the murder trial. where Mandy Jordache was accused of killing her horrid husband. Trevor. Brookside’s also made occasional television history. getting the nation hot under the collar over the small screen’s first lesbian kiss when Anna Friel played tonsil hockey with a foxy friend.
Liverpool‘s most famous close is a rather strange place. Storylines are a bizarre mix of the mundaner everyday and the mind- warpingly unlikely. One moment Max Farnham’s uneorking a nice bottle of plonk. the next a mystery virus has wiped out half the residents. What’s next, a massive explosion in the shopping precinct?
‘It is a curious mix. which probably means it isn’t totally realistic.’ concedes Tony Pearson. head of Glasgow University’s Department of Theatre. Film and Television. who is organising Brookside - Behind The Scenes. ‘Some critics say that the average street doesn’t have explosions. kidnappings and all the rest of it. That’s true, but successful soaps have to negotiate some ground between the everyday and being a little bit sensational.‘
Karen Drury, who plays Susannah Famham in the series, believes that despite surreal plot
86 THE LIST 28 May- 11 Jun 1998
'Brookside reflects society a better than EastEnders. That close-knit community is a fantasy that doesn't exist in the East End.’ Karen Drury
Karen Drury as Susannah Farnham in Brookside
developments. Brookside is closer to the acttralities of
life in Britain than its rivals.
‘We do quite fantastical storylines sometimes. which are great fun for me as an actress. btrt I think Bron/(side reflects society better than liastlimlersu' she says. ‘That sort of close-knit community is a fantasy that doesn‘t exist in the [iast lind. It‘s the same with Coronation Street.‘
Drury joined Brno/(side six years ago as Max Farnham‘s ex-missus. set on creating trouble between him and his then wife. Patricia. Having split them up. she got back together with Max but quickly caused
the deaths of their children in terrible car crash. Unsurprisingly. Susannah went a bit loopy and is currently embroiled in a tearful surrogacy storyline.
‘I feel sympathetic toward Susannah. because she‘s had awful things happen to her‘ says Drury. ‘But I rather miss the fact that when I came into the show she was a bit of a nasty character. which was great fun to play. Apart from being a bit snobby. I seem to be terribly nice now. It's always fun to be a baddy. I might have to ask the writers to put in more villainy on this weekend.’
Brookside - Behind The Scenes is at James Arnott Theatre. Gilmorehill Centre for Theatre, Film and Television Studies, University of Glasgow, Sat 30 & Sun 31 May. Call 0141 287 5511.
Celebrity sofa surfing. This issue: Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish Favourite TV show? Adam: ER. For a while, when it was really cooking I would actually say to myself out loud 'Man, that was a peach!’ each trrne the final intensely harrowing or uplifting scene was played out and the screen faded momentously to black. Fave TV snack? Joe: Apples, chewy cereal bars, chocolate frnqers, orange Jurce. . hot mama!
When did you last shout at the TV? A: l shouted at the lady m the new Tango ad where she's admorushrno some ad exec that 'the clowns ao’ wasn't funny enough? I Wish I could tell everyone involved with those ads to furl: off, but they'd probably film the (ionic; rt and turn rt into another marvellous post- modern wankfest for their tiny pop. If you went on Stars In Their Eyes, who would you be? A' Davrd Bowre in hrs Labyrinth phase I'd be dressed as the prxre krnq mth an enormous buloe rn my trqhts
Which TV personality makes you physically sick? J I'm turrently havrnq food retention problems with Angus Deyton I'm sure he's a lth ly man, but when he puts on a briqhtly coloured surt, corks one eyebrow and starts talking to me in a knowrnq tone rt invariably makes me want to hurl. Who would be on your dream Top Of The Pops? A: Gorky’s Zy-aotrc MynCI, a very drunk Mark E. Smith, The Associates playing 'Party Fears Too' and Davrd Bowre domg 'Under'qround' in his leggings
What's your favourite soap opera? J The girls are prettier in ism/rumours but they wear less in Home And Away I tend to flrcl: between the two at high speed in an attempt to merrie the pictures
A The news Imagined I really thought that was a clever answer That would make me the biggest (or i: in the world
a: The Adam And Joe Show Video IS out now, [72 99