Hard-hitting soap Brookside to be streamed on STV Player

The beloved soap based in Liverpool drew millions of viewers before it wrapped up in 2003.

Brookside: Hard-hitting soap to air on STV Player 20 years after programme ended

Brookside will begin airing on streaming platform STV Player two decades after the last episode of the hard-hitting soap.

The first episode aired on Channel 4 on November 2, 1982 and, at its peak, the show drew in audiences of nine million viewers before it came to a close 21 years later.

The Liverpool-based soap followed the lives of characters living in a cul-de-sac called Brookside Close.

STV Player will stream the first ten episodes from February 1, with five more then becoming available each week.

It was written by Grange Hill and Hollyoaks creator Sir Philip Redmond, and produced by his company Mersey Television, now called Lime Pictures.

Sunetra Sarker, who played Nisha Batra, was spotted by casting scouts at a bus stop aged 15 and said she “owes a lot” to the programme.

The Ackley Bridge and Casualty actress added: “Had I known then that Brookside Close would be the road that led me to my surprising and eventful career, I would never have believed it.

“I am thrilled that STV Player is airing Brookie again after all these years. I never fail to hear fans tell me how much they still miss the show.”

Across its run, the show took on issues such as LGBT+ and hard-hitting storylines such as rape, bullying and incest.

In 1985, teenage character Gordon Collins came out to his family as gay on the soap.

The character, played by both Mark Burgess and Nigel Crowley, became the first ever openly gay character in a British TV series when the episode aired.

Brookside also had the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss in British history between characters Beth Jordache, played by Anna Friel, and Margaret Clemence, who was portrayed by future Emmerdale actress Nicola Stephenson.

Friel’s career has taken her to America where she has appeared in the comedy series Pushing Daisies, opposite Susan Sarandon in country music drama Monarch and alongside Bradley Cooper in the film Limitless.

 The Corkhill family from Brookside.

Silent Witness actress Amanda Burton, Hollyoaks actress Alex Fletcher, and west-end musical star Claire Sweeney also began their careers on the soap.

Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson, who played Bobby and Shelia Grant in Brookside, also played a married couple in sitcom The Royle Family.

The soap, which is currently available in part on All 4, has been brought to STV after a deal with distributor All3Media International.

Richard Williams, managing director of digital at STV, said: “It may have been two decades since Brookside drew to a close, but the love for the show from its passionate army of fans has never waned.

“We’re so pleased to be the first streaming service to bring this legendary piece of TV history back into viewers’ living rooms for free, and I hope superfans and new audiences alike enjoy all the nostalgic drama that Brookside has to offer on STV Player.”