Brookside creator, Phil Redmond has big plans for the future
PUBLISHED: 16:47 16 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:06 20 February 2013
Phil Redmond has enjoyed years of success in screenwriting and television direction. But the Brookside creator, who lives in Cheshire, has even bigger plans for the future. Words BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
Phil Redmond will never live it down that he moved to Cheshire. Hes often teased by locals in his native Liverpool for venturing across the Mersey. But he could never be accused of forgetting his home city. His passion for Liverpool has never waned.
For decades, Phil, who lives near Tarporley in a house once used as a shoot location, has dedicated his life to creating some of the biggest shows on television through Mersey TV, the company he owned with wife, Alexis. Grange Hill, which ran for 30 years, Brookside, on our screens for over 20, and Hollyoaks, which is still running, were all his.
Early in his career he wrote comedy sketches for the likes of Harry Secombe and Les Dawson as well as working on a Dan Dare project. He famously led Liverpools success in the 2008 Capital of Culture year, he is the chair of National Museums Liverpool, a former chair of the Merseyside Entrepreneurship Commission, a professor of media at Liverpool John Moores University (where he has set up an International Centre for Digital Content) and he was instrumental in the creation of the Liverpool Screen School, at the time the first of its kind in the north west.
Add to this his work as a founder member of the first regional branch of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, his work with the North West Film Commission, and the fact that he is a fellow of The Royal Society of Arts and was given a CBE for his services to drama. The list goes on.
This month, he releases his memoir, Mid-Term Report. The book reveals details of his happy childhood in Huyton, his days in comprehensive education at St Kevins Catholic School for Boys, Kirkby, which eventually gave him the inspiration for Grange Hill, his former career as a quantity surveyor, going back to university, his writing and the successful career he is famous for.
Now, he is the right side of 60. With all this success behind him, some might start thinking of slowing down. Not a bit of it. As well as the memoir, Phil is writing a novel about a northern town. Earlier this year he briefly flirted with the idea of running for Liverpool mayor.
But his biggest project is the creation of a local television channel. He is waiting to see if he has won his bid for a licence.
He said: The idea has very much come full circle from my childhood and the Capital of Culture year. There was this strong sense of community in Huyton. Growing up, everything revolved around the church and my Catholic faith. The church was the focal point. It was where people came together. As parishes have got bigger, communities have broken down and thats not good.
It was the same in 2008. People realised that they wanted something, they could get on and do it and reach their potential. Thats what made it such a success. Ive been banging the drum about local channels for Liverpool and Merseyside since 1982. It should be something that offers a public service and reaches out to those people in the community who really need it.
They can take ownership of it and book their own slots, charities can use it to make people aware of who they are and there could even be half hour programmes on different towns and villages. Its what we need.
Phil is also looking at ways to mark the five-year milestone since the Capital of Culture. He said it is important for people to look back on what happened and to think about how the experience can be used in the future. But, at the end of a hard day, there is nothing he loves more than returning home.
He said: I love the quiet of Cheshire. This sounds really corny but I think its one of the most picturesque, beautiful areas in the UK. Its incredible. I travel all over the place. But you look across the Cheshire Plain and I just think its fantastic.
Its also important to love your community. We do feel a part of ours. Our grounds are used for the local village fete and we open our gardens to the public to raise money for charity.
I have always wanted to live in Cheshire. I was taught, like many Liverpudlians, to go out there, do well and get out as quickly as you could. People dont feel like that anymore, thankfully, and the confidence people have in the city is fantastic. But I love coming home. The gates close and thats it. There is nothing that could be better.
Mid-Term Report is released on October