Liverpool has a magnificent literary history, from novelists to poets and playwrights. Here’s a selection of some of our most celebrated writers.
1. Adrian Henri
Adrian Henri was a much-loved figure in the world of performance poetry, fine art and beyond.
Born in Birkenhead, he was part of the Liverpool scene in the 1960s appearing alongside Roger McGough and Brian Patten in the groundbreaking anthology The Mersey Sound. The poems brought everyday subject matter such as pubs and factory work to poetry and were more accessible to readers.
The anthology has sold over half a million copies and was highly influential in opening the doors to other performance-orientated artists who followed in subsequent decades including John Hegley, John Cooper-Clarke, Linton Kwesi Johnson and others.
2. Jeff Young
Jeff Young is a writer for theatre, radio and screen, including Eastenders, Holby City, CBBC and Casualty.
His 2020 biographical novel ‘Ghost Town: A Liverpool Shadowplay’ is brilliantly evocative of 1960s and 1970s Liverpool, tracing the path of the city’s cultural life up to the present.
He broadcasts essays for Radio 3, collaborates with artists and musicians on sound art installations and has worked on many arts projects in Liverpool and elsewhere, including a residency in Bill Drummond’s Curfew Tower.
3. Levi Tafari
Levi Tafari is a firm member of the Rastafari movement and saw it as his duty to reach a wider audience with his work. In the early 1980s, he started attending the Liverpool 8 Writers Workshop and decided to become a performance poet.
Levi has four collections of work published and has been included in many anthologies. He was the first person to use the term Duboetry, the title of his first book, and several of his musical tracks can be found on compilation albums.
He was also commissioned to write and perform a piece especially for the BBC’s Grange Hill programme, in which he appeared as himself.
4. Carla Lane
One of Britain’s most celebrated television comedy writers for television, Carla Lane was best known for her sitcoms The Liver Birds, Butterflies and Bread, but she was almost as well known for her animal rights activism.
Her first hit series, BBC’s The Liver Birds, was about the lives and loves of two Liverpool girls living on the city’s Huskisson Street, broadcast from 1969-1978.
Her greatest writing success was the 1980s series Bread, the classic sitcom about a Liverpool family scamming and surviving in Thatcher’s Britain.
5. Alan Bleasdale
Alan Bleasdale taught in various Lancashire schools and while teaching, he wrote a series of stories for BBC Radio Merseyside about a Liverpool teenage dreamer Scully. The stories led to a Granada television series.
His most successful work was the series Boys from the Blackstuff (1983), which dealt with the devastating effects of unemployment in Liverpool. The show’s humorous and cutting take on life on the dole featured the legendary Yozza ‘Giz a Job’ Hughes.
He later went on to write the acclaimed series GBH, showing the takeover of a northern English city by a fascist organisation. The show was based on the controversial 1980s Liverpool City Council figure Derek Hatton.
6. Frank Cottrell Boyce
Frank Cottrell Boyce first worked as a television critic and then wrote for Coronation Street and Brookside. He also worked on films with director Michael Winterbottom, including the wonderful Tony Wilson biopic, 24 Hour Party People, starring Steve Coogan.
Frank started his successful career writing for children with 2004’s heist romp Millions. His children’s books have been praised as full of mystery, adventure and above all, laughs. The Unforgotten Coat, a story of cross-cultural friendship in a Liverpool school, earned him The Guardian Prize in 2012.
He later gained recognition as a writer for the inventive 2012 UK Summer Olympics opening ceremony, collaborating with director Danny Boyle.
7. Kevin Sampson
Widely known for his football terrace novel and subsequent film, Awaydays, Kevin Sampson began his writing career in the 1980’s with gig reviews for NME.
His second novel Powder (1999) covers his time setting up the Liverpool record label Produce with The Farm’s Peter Hooton. In the 1990s, Produce had chart success with The Farm, including the top five hit All Together Now and Powder depicts the trials and excesses of the music business.
More recently, Kevin was hired to write the new ITV mini-series Anne, which centres on Anne Williams’ crusade for justice after the death of her son Kevin in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.
There’s a great range of events to explore this December, including many festive specials!
1. Solstice Meditation at Dawn and Dusk
Join The Reader for an hour of meditation and movement with Laura Rowe from X-Hail Liverpool, followed by a half-hour Shared Reading session and refreshment.
X-Hail is the UK’s first Mind and Body class, it’s easy and intuitive meditation and pure relaxation. The classes are held against a backdrop of soulful and uplifting chilled chart classics.
The Reader, 21 December, starts 10am/6pm.
2. Laughterhouse Comedy Christmas Show
Enjoy an evening of hilarity with some legendary home-grown comics, alongside Live At The Apollo stars and acts from the international comedy-circuit at Epstein Theatre.
This December, Laughterhouse Comedy deliver some great TV comedians in a stellar festive line-up, the evening features Tom Stade, Mick Miller, Justin Moorhouse and Chris Cairns.
Epstein Theatre, 10 December, 7.30pm.
3. Sleeping Beauty
Hope Street Theatre are presenting a special version of Sleeping Beauty, the show stars Lucy Forrester as Princess Aurora and Liverpool Live Radio’s Breakfast presenter Aaron Hayes as the hilarious Dame Dolly.
The colourful panto will also feature a full supporting cast and ensemble from the local Liverpool Theatre School and The Performers Theatre School.
With sparkling sets and dazzling costumes, there is even a visit from Santa at the end of selected shows!
Hope Street Theatre, 16-30 December, various times.
4. Voices of Christmas
Immerse yourself in Christmas past, present and future with poetry and short stories from talented local writers and performers at The Old Library.
The library is run by the excellent community charity Lister Steps in North Liverpool, the charity helped save the building from neglect and reopened the venue this year.
You can relax and enjoy a festive literary evening at Voices of Christmas, it’s sure to get you in the Christmas spirit! The night features Merseyside writers, performers and friends of The Old Library, as they imagine Christmas in times gone by and look to the future.
The Old Library, 8 December, 7pm.
5. Spoken Word
Spoken Word events at The Reader encompass a huge variety of writing and performance styles, from the intimately personal and heart-breaking to the uproariously funny and celebratory.
The Reader’s Spoken Word event for December features Vicky Foster, Roy, Cath Holland, Saint Vespaluus and Janaya Pickett
Poetry in all its forms will be the main feature, along with memoirs, stories, monologues and any number of almost-indefinable types of prose!
The Reader, 16 December, 7pm.
Visit our What’s On section to find even more events happening in December and beyond.
There’s a host of must-see events this November, from new theatre productions to the reopening of Museum of Liverpool’s Wondrous Place gallery.
For the first time Jim Blythe’s incredibly touching and thought-provoking play Rossiter will be performed in Liverpool, at the Hope Street Theatre. Actor Toby Harris will bring the much loved and iconic comic actor Leonard Rossiter back to life in his home city once again.
A fascinating insight into one of the leading comic actors of his generation, the play explores the actor’s life, his work and motivations.
Hope Street Theatre, 4-6 November, 7.30pm (3pm matinee show on the 5th).
2. Wondrous Place Gallery
Celebrating the city’s staggering roll call of trailblazing entertainers, musicians, sports people, writers, poets, visual artists and comedians, the gallery continues to showcase Liverpool’s internationally recognised creativity and influence through exciting new displays and immersive experiences.
This includes a new Stage and Screen display, which examines the city as a film set and how it continues to provide an impressive backdrop to Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning TV shows.
Items on display include one of Villanelle’s costumes from Killing Eve worn by Liverpool actress Jodie Comer.
Williamson Art Gallery are welcoming Oxton Art Fair back after last year’s break. This year’s edition is slightly more compact, with 12 member artists taking part, but no less beautiful and considered than any other year.
Visit to view, discover and purchase originally produced painting, photography, jewellery, ceramics, mixed-media, printmaking and textiles.
As always there is something for everyone!
Williamson Art Gallery, 7th November, 10am-5pm, free.
A highlight of this year’s BHM is Everyman Theatre’s My White Best Friend – North. Northern artists were invited to write personal letters exploring issues around race. The letters will be read by actors live for the first time on the night.
1-31 October, various venues and online.
2. Stick Man
Touching and funny, Freckle Productions’ delightful adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’sStick Man is heading to Liverpool’s Playhouse Theatre.
This award-winning production, from the team behind Zog andTiddler and other Terrific Tales, features a trio of top actors and is packed full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves.
Liverpool Playhouse, 26-27 October, various times.
Expect music and song, food and film, talks, theatre and much more. There will be a chance to join in with ceílís and comedy nights, traditional music seisiuns and poetry events.
The festival also features a new piece of music theatre by renowned composer Maz O’Connor, exploring Irish folklore and superstitions.
Head along for a packed festival of family fun.
21-31 October, various venues and online.
4. Homotopia Festival
The UK’s longest running LGBTQIA arts and culture festival, Homotopia Festival, is back. After months of being stuck at home, this year’s festival theme is Coming Out. And for those who aren’t ready to Come Out, they’ve got some fabulous digital content on offer too.
A festival highlight is international cabaret and drag artist Peter Groom’s ‘Dietrich: Live in Liverpool’ – a glittering, poignant and uplifting audience with icon, Marlene Dietrich, in the stunning St George’s Hall.
This year’s festival also features a new exhibition by celebrated artist Christian Asare and Homotopia’s Artist in Residence for 2021 is actor and writer Jade Anouka.
28 October – 14 November, various venues and online.
5. Gustavo The Shy Ghost
The Storybarn are featuring the vibrant and light-hearted book Gustavo The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago, this October Half Term.
Head along and meet Gustavo a multi-talented ghost with a big heart and a love a music! The only thing is he is a bit shy and has gone missing. Help find Gustavo and give him the courage to put on his very first concert.
They will create shadow puppets, learn about the day of the dead, read stories and have a spooktacular time!
Now in its eleventh year celebrating visual arts across the peninsula, this free event will see around 70 artists and makers open the doors to their houses or studio spaces.
The Tour gives visitors an exciting opportunity to talk first-hand to the artists and to view their work in the environment it was created, or to just enjoy wandering through the various studios to answer the eternal question ‘What do artists do all day?’.
Various venues, 11/12 September, 10am-5pm, free.
2. Positive Vibration Reggae Festival
The UK’s award-winning celebration of reggae music and Jamaican culture, Positive Vibration Festival,returns to the Baltic Triangle 10th and 11th of September.
Since its inception in 2016, Positive Vibration Festival of Reggae has established itself as one of the country’s most exciting and eclectic reggae festivals, playing host to internationally renowned bands, legendary sound systems and some of the brightest new talent.
The line-up includes: The Twinkle Brothers, Mad Professor Ft. Sister Aisha and Benjamin Zephaniah & The Revolutionary Minds.
Baltic Triangle, 10/11 September, 12noon-late.
3. Uncertain Data
How do our feelings, emotions and reactions affect how we experience the world? Uncertain Data brings together four artists in residence at FACT, whose work exposes the complex layers of data that govern us, and questions the trust we place in it.
The four newly commissioned artworks invite us to journey through the depths of the ocean by controlling our emotions in an interactive VR work.
Uncover hard facts and data to reveal the human stories beneath them – exposing the uncertainty our world is built on.
FACT, 15 September – 3 October, 12-6pm, Wednesday-Sunday, free.
4. Something About George
Where does life take you after being in the greatest band in the history of the world? Something About George answers that question and follows George Harrison’s post-Beatles career.
Featuring beautiful songs like My Sweet Lord, Something, and Handle With Care, the show also includes Harrison’s incredible solo material and music from rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys.
The show is part of the excellent Liverpool Theatre Festival.
St Luke’s ‘Bombed-Out’ Church, 12 September, 5pm and 8pm.
Merseyside is home to many beautiful walks and trails, especially along its coastline. They’re a great way to get outdoors, see some wildlife and make the most of the school holidays.
Our selection of coastal and canal walks includes Wirral’s fascinating wildlife community at Hilbre Island, Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ statues at Crosby beach and the Otterspool to Pier Head walk, which covers Liverpool’s historic waterfront.
The walks are ideal for keeping the family entertained and exercised this summer.
Garston Coastal Reserve Trail
On the Garston Coastal Reserve Trail you can view birdlife in the estuary and experience a unique view of planes taking off from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport.
Brimming with wild flowers and bracken, the coastal reserve is a haven for wildlife including gold finches, swallows and different species of butterfly.
The trail stretches from Garston Docks to the airport and is a relatively easy 40 minute walk covering 2.4 miles.
Otterspool Promenade Walk
The Otterspool Promenade to Pier Head walk takes in the whole of the famous Liverpool Waterfront. You can take your time to view the iconic buildings along the river.
Gaze out over the Mersey watching the boats and stop off for a wander in the Festival Gardens along the way. The walk also takes in Liverpool Watersports Centre, the centre provides a variety of affordable activities for individuals and groups.
The route covers 4.9 miles and is suitable for all ages, surfaces are mainly level.
Southport Coastal Walk
The Sefton Coastal Path at Southport is a beautiful journey through a variety of landscapes – perfect for blowing away those cobwebs.
See the impressive Southport Pier, salt marshes of the Ribble Estuary, the RSPB Nature Reserve and the Queen’s Jubilee Nature Trail.
The 9.5 mile route starts at Crossens and finishes at Ainsdale.
On a clear day, the views across the Irish Sea are outstanding and a stroll along the beach can reveal many of the shorebirds that make Sefton’s coast so important for wildlife.
There are clearly marked paths along the 4.25 mile route, making it perfect for a day out and family picnic.
Crosby Beach Walk
Crosby Beach has beautiful views over to New Brighton and is also home to the famous sculptures of Anthony Gormley’s Another Place – 100 cast iron statues stretching for 1.5 miles.
In addition to the ‘Iron Men’, the beach walk takes in the elegant art-deco houses at Marine Terrace and the old seafront residences of Blundellsands. Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre and West Lancashire Golf Club are also en route.
The walk covers 5 miles from Waterloo to Hightown and mainly uses flat paths.
The last leg of the walk will see you take a canal side stroll down a section of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal – the longest canal in the country!
The route is 6 miles and generally flat throughout.
The Wirral Way is situated within the beautiful Wirral Country Park. The route starts in West Kirby and runs through to Hooton along an old disused railway line.
Wirral Country Park is perfect for seeing wildlife, a variety of birds nest in the dense hedges and you may see up to ten kinds of butterfly in summer.
There are also stunning views over the Dee Estuary to Wales. The entire route is 13 miles but you can just choose to walk sections of the Wirral Way.
You can visit Hilbre Island throughout the year, it’s a pleasant walk across the sands from West Kirby to the island – an archipelago and one of just 43 unbridged islands in the UK that can be reached on foot from the mainland.
In the summer, it’s possible to see grey seals swimming just off the shore, and it’s a great place for spotting sightings of rare and endangered wildlife all year round.
The Beatles Story is highly recommended for locals and tourists alike.
This is an incredible story of how 4 local lads went on a journey that took them from the early days as the Quarrymen (which John Lennon formed in 1957-aged 16), through to the formation of the Beatles, their development as a band in Hamburg, the Cavern and then their subsequent national breakthrough in the UK.
We follow them to the incredible heights of the Ed Sullivan Show, which helped them conquer the USA, and on to their films, the live worldwide broadcast of All You Need is Love and their final appearance as a group on the Apple roof top concert in 1969.
The exhibition uses a mix of technologies. There are replicas of the Casbah club where they performed many times as a fledgling group, Mathew Street, Abbey Road Studios and The Cavern; all of which help to authentically capture the early ’60s.
The immersive technology allows you to experience the very places that helped make The Beatles the greatest band in the world. The complimentary ‘Living History’ audio guides are available in twelve different languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Polish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese and Korean), and take you through stories from each stage of the Beatles journey to the dizzying heights they reached.
The Casbah was regarded by Paul McCartney as the place where it all started. He tells how they ‘helped paint it and stuff. We looked upon it as our personal club’. Pete Best’s mum had set the club up in the basement of their house in Wavertree. The Beatles, at that time were Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Sutcliffe and Best. They played at the Casbah hundreds of times and started to hone their craft.
We then move through to Hamburg. Allan Williams was the Beatles’ unofficial manager at this period. He arranged a residency for them in Hamburg, for which they auditioned and hired drummer Pete Best in mid-August 1960, before they left. Williams drove them there in his van.
He later fell out with the band and had no further involvement with them. We hear his thoughts on their time in Hamburg and their subsequent success.
Their initial tenure in Hamburg ended with George Harrison being deported (he’d lied to the authorities about his age and was underage to be playing in what were converted strip clubs). A week later McCartney and Best were arrested for arson, and deported, Lennon returned to Liverpool in December and Sutcliffe stayed in Hamburg until late February with his German fiancée Astrid Kircherr.
During the next two years, the Beatles were resident for periods in Hamburg. Stuart Sutcliffe eventually decided to leave the band early tin 1961 and go back to Art College in Germany, which prompted McCartney to move from rhythm to bass guitar. It’s estimated that the band played 1200 hours of music while on their Hamburg residency. The photographs of their time in Hamburg show a young rock and roll band, kitted out on leathers and denim.
After their second Hamburg residency, the band had tightened up musically and become much better showmen. On their return to Liverpool they enjoyed increasing popularity and where a part of the growing Merseybeat movement. They played lunchtime and evening sessions at the Cavern and were gaining a bigger and bigger local reputation.
Through the interactive technology, we get the chance to sample the Cavern experience. We see the Merseybeat newspaper and learn how that was set up on a shoestring and then immediately sold out and became a great success. We see a recreation of the Beatles Fan Club offices, hear how Brian Epstein was introduced to the band and ended up taking over as their manager.
We learn how he turned them into a more professional act and why Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best. Epstein managed to get the band (eventually) signed to EMI and they were taken under the wing of producer George Martin. Martin guided and developed their recordings and helped them increase their technical abilities in the studio; together they developed as recording artists and introduced many innovations into the studio-some of which are still used to this day.
There are some surprising pieces of information here; for example, Martin describes how he had a session drummer play on the first Beatles recording with Ringo Starr consigned to tambourine.
Brian Epstein greatly expanded their domestic success after their first hit, “Love me Do“, in late 1962. We learn how their popularity grew into the intense fan frenzy dubbed “Beatlemania“, and the band acquired the nickname “the Fab Four”. We can sample Beatlemania via recordings of the Ed Sullivan show, and the band’s appearance on the London Palladium for the Royal Variety Performance in the mid 1963.Footage of the fans screaming and fainting outside the Palladium were a taste of things to come
By early 1964, the Beatles were international stars, leading the British Invasion of the United States pop market and breaking numerous sales records. They went on to tour the US a number of times, and famously, when they first came across racial segregation in Florida in 1964, refused to play unless the audience was integrated. This prompted them to have clauses inserted into their contracts stipulating that shows be integrated for their US tours in 1965 and 1966.
Soon they made their film debut with A Hard Days Night (1964). From 1965 onwards, they produced records of greater complexity, including the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver(1966) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), and enjoyed further commercial success with The Beatles (also known as “the White Album”, 1968) and Abbey Road (1969).
In 1968, they founded Apple Corps, a multi-armed multimedia corporation that continues to oversee projects related to the band’s legacy. After the group’s break-up in 1970, all four members enjoyed success as solo artists.
The Beatles Story also spends some time covering the ex-Beatles careers.
Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all released solo albums in 1970, with one or more of the others sometimes appearing on their solo albums.
Starr’s Ringo (1973) was the only album to include compositions and performances by all four ex-Beatles (but on separate songs). Harrison staged the Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971, with Starr as a guest. Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again, other than an unreleased jam session from 1974, which was later bootlegged.
After the break up the Beatles Story focuses on Paul McCartney and Wings output, George Harrison’s records and his work as a film producer (including Monty Python movies), Ringo Starr’s hits and film appearances, and John Lennon’s hits and concerts
In 1980, Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York City apartment in the Dakota Building. Harrison died in 2001 of lung cancer.
The latest update to The Beatles Story is a new photographic exhibition ‘Sgt. Pepper Way’, which shows previously unseen images of John Lennon to celebrate what would have been his 80th birthday on October 9th 2020.
The black and white photographs captured Lennon at the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road’ theatre show in New York in October 1974, and have never been on public display before.
In the photographs, which have been unseen for over 45 years, Lennon can be seen changing the name of West 74th street on Broadway to Sgt. Pepper Way, sitting at an organ and relaxing in a dark velvet suit, top hat and ‘ELVIS’ lapel badge.
The photographs were all taken by Robert Deutsch who worked as a freelance photographer in New York during the 1970/80s. Deutsch was recently on a cruise ship which docked in Liverpool and he was able to explore the city in a day-long tour, which included trips to Strawberry Fields, The Cavern Club and The Beatles Story. After visiting, he got in touch with The Beatles Story and offered to share his previously unpublished photographs.
His photographs are an important addition and round of the Beatles Story nicely for those who want to revisit the exhibition and see some fresh material.
The Beatles are back in the news at the moment, with the news that Peter Jackson has released a montage of the 56 hours of material he is editing for the release of his new movie, Get Back, which covers the recording of the eponymous album. That the BBC also screened an Interview with Paul McCartney by Idris Elba over the Christmas period shows that there is an ongoing fascination with the Beatles.
The Beatles Story; Britannia Pavilion, Albert Dock, Liverpool. Opening times 10am – 3pm.
Liverpool-based artist and DJ Kate Hazeldine, has just launched her new music project as NIIX, an inspired combination of pop and edgy electronics.
NIIX’s previous project LUNA was supported by the likes of Clash Magazine and EARMILK, alongside radio play on BBC Radio 1. Kate was also mentored under the LIMF Academy programme and has emerged as one of the city’s bright hopes.
The new project is a really exciting shift for Kate, as she mixes harder electronic sounds with pop to provide something really unique. The NIIX project is aptly named after the Greek goddess of night, given the moods and danceable vibes that run throughout the release. Kate will launch the debut EP ‘I’ on 2nd July.
She has collaborated with some inventive local artists on several tracks and everyone involved within the new ‘look’ keeps the music local to the North-West. The EP’s lead track DRV, is a long-awaited collaboration with producer and DJ BRYN, a crunchy pop number, drawing parallels with the likes of Kelela and Murlo.
Kate is proud of being a Liverpool artist and the camaraderie the arts scene provides, she observes:
“The most notable thing about the Liverpool music scene is the sense of community. I’ve always felt supported by the city, allowing me to push boundaries with my music and for that I’m really grateful. It’s also allowed me to collaborate with other local artists and producers, experimenting with sounds that I may not have done alone.”
Also a self-taught DJ as well as producer, NIIX has monthly radio shows on Liverpool’s excellent Melodic Distraction and Steam Radio (Manchester), which are well worth discovering for an eclectic mix of tracks.
With all this support garnered before her debut release, NIIX is a firecracker simply waiting to be let off.
You may not have realised it, but Liverpool is a cinematic hub. The city was captured on film for first time in 1897 and believe it or not, that actually pre-dates the first credited Hollywood movie by a staggering thirteen years.
It has been well over a century since the cameras first rolled in our Liverpool home, but it’s connection with the movie and TV world is stronger today than ever. In fact, Liverpool is the most filmed in city in Britain after London and one of Europe’s most popular filming destinations.
Of course, there are many reasons for this, but rather than making this a history lesson, let’s delve straight into some of the locations in the city, that you might pass on a daily basis and have no idea that you’re actually standing on a former film-set.
Letter to Brezhnev
Letter to Brezhnev is a tremendous piece of scouse cinema that dates back to 1985. It was written by Frank Clarke and directed by Chris Bernard and it had a tremendous cast, featuring the likes of Alexandra Pigg, Peter Firth, Alfred Molina and Margi Clarke.
It tells the story of two Soviet sailors, Peter (Firth) and Sergei (Molina), who go ashore in Liverpool to spend one night in the city before departing the following morning. Whilst out on the town, they bump into Elaine (Pigg) and Theresa (Clarke), and an instant romance is formed, so much so, that Elaine writes to the Soviet General Secretary, Leonid Brezhnev, asking for him to arrange a reunion.
The film acts as a postcard of 1980s Liverpool, with plenty of locations still familiar today, but those of you who may frequent the JD Gym on Dale Street, which was previously the State Ballroom nightclub, will be achieving your fitness goals in the very venue where Peter, Sergei, Elaine and Theresa all meet for the first time.
Since The Beatles called it a day back in 1970 there has been a great deal of Fab Four flicks, be it biopics, tales of ‘What if’ and of course jukebox musicals such as the massively underrated Across the Universe from 2007.
Certainly the most popular of recent Beatles films was Danny Boyle’s Yesterday from 2019,which was written by Richard Curtis and stars Himesh Patel, Lilly James, Ed Sheeran and Joe Fry, just to name a few.
An unexplained event occurs which plunges the world into a moment of darkness and when all resumes, it appears that nobody can remember who The Beatles are. That however, is nobody, except for struggling musician, Jack Malik (Patel). With this sudden realisation, he decides to pass off the music of John, Paul, George & Ringo as his own, so in order to make everything seem authentic regarding the countless locations that feature in the lyrics of the songs, Jack makes a pilgrimage to Liverpool.
You can take your pick of The Beatles hotspots in the city which all feature predominantly, however, one particularly important exchange isn’t a musical themed location, but merely the gateway into Liverpool. The next time that you pop into Upper Crust in Lime Street station, you can sit at the “Yesterday” table and pretend that you’re the protagonist in a Danny Boyle flick.
Chariots of Fire
It’s quite amazing to think that a film that won four Oscars, including Best Picture which is the most prestigious Academy Award of them all, was actually filmed right on our doorstep. But that’s what happened with Hugh Hudson’s sporting drama Chariots of Fire.
Two men, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), race for the gold in the 1924 Olympics. While one runs for his faith, the other participates to leave prejudice behind. It’s a stirring tale of friendship, determination and religion all set to an incredible score by Vangelis. Few films have had the cultural impact of Chariots of Fire and with Rowan Atkinson comedically referencing it in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, you come to realise just how important of a film it still is.
There are numerous locations in the local area that feature in the film, but the most famous of which has to be the Bebington Oval, which is located on the Wirral. When you’re watching the Olympic games set in Paris, 1924 in the film, you’re actually just on the other side of the river Mersey!
The Irregulars is an original Netflix series that went live on the streaming service in March this year and it focuses on the ‘Baker Street Irregulars’ who were a gang of children and young adults, that frequently popped-up in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes’ mysteries. They would act as the Great Detective’s eyes and ears on the ground and supply him with information or “the word on the street”.
Writer, Tom Bidwell, wrote an eight episode series for the streaming giant that focused on the adventures of the gang. It features a talented, young cast, who you can be sure will go on to have long and successful careers in film & TV in the years ahead. Thaddea Graham, McKell David, Jojo Macari, Harrison Osterfield and Darci Shaw make up the Victorian group of friends and they are all backed-up by an equally talented supporting cast.
Of course, the show is set in Victorian England, with much of the action taking place in central London, however, Liverpool once again stepped-up and was able to transform itself into the capital of yesteryear. Locations such as St George’s Plateau and William Brown Street feature in the series, but if you head up to Falkner Street, in the Georgian Quarter of the city, you’ll be able to track down the building that doubles for the famous 221B Baker Street, which of course is Sherlock HQ.
The 51st State
The 51st State is such an important film to Liverpool being used as a major location, as it truly brought the city into the 21st Century by showcasing a wide range of areas that are suitable for making major motion pictures. Not only that, but the cast in the film from outside of the city, all sang Liverpool’s praises afterwards, which surely helped the cause.
Stars such as Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Rhys Ifans, Meat Loaf and Sean Pertwee all had major roles in the film, as well as top local talent including Ricky Tomlinson, Michael Starke and Paul Barber. The narrative focuses on Elmo (Jackson), who is a master chemist that has created a new drug that provides the ultimate high. News of this new substance of course creates a bidding war between some of the most powerful drug dealers on either side of the Atlantic and things soon take a bizarre and violent turn…
Ronny Yu’s direction makes it a genre mash-up of crime, comedy and action all rolled into one and what is wonderful about it, is that it uses practically the whole city as a backdrop. You see pubs on the outskirts of the region, the docks, some of the iconic buildings of the city centre, but the most memorable scene has to be in the final moments, which takes place in a corporate box at Anfield stadium as Liverpool take on Manchester United. If you haven’t seen the film before, it’s a scene that you’re not likely to forget any time soon.
You would be hard pushed to find a TV series that has caused as much of a stir as what The Crown has done in recent years. It just goes to show that there is a real thirst for dramatised Royal gossip and whether you’re a fan of the occupants of Buckingham Palace or not, this has truly become one of the shows most discussed around water coolers in workplaces across the globe.
Earlier this year, series 4 was added to Netlix, however, in the previous series Liverpool, ever a chameleon city when onscreen, was doubling for Washington D.C. in the 1960s. North John Street featured heavily in the scenes as restaurants and shop fronts on the busy Liverpool street were all decorated to make them appear as if you were stood in the American capital.
Street signs were changed, American phone booths were erected and the street was filled with yellow cabs, popular cars from across the pond and of course a series of extras who had all been dressed up to represent the fashions of the swinging 60s.
A House Through Time
A House Through Time is a tremendous documentary series that has aired annually on BBC 2, since its debut in 2018. The show focuses on one individual residential property in a British city and it gives the complete social history of the building and its occupants over the years.
Later this year, the fourth series will be screened, featuring a home in Leeds and previously, properties in Newcastle and Bristol have appeared in the show in the second and third series, respectively, however, in the inaugural series, it was Liverpool that took centre stage.
Renowned historian, David Olusoga helmed the four episodes that revealed the history of the owners of 62 Falkner Street, which is located in the Canning area of the city. The four-bedroom, Grade II listed property has a rich heritage, dating all the way back to the 1800s and catching up with the series on BBC iPlayer, is well worthy use of your time, it is truly excellent television.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Back in 2017, the wonderful drama, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, hit cinema screens worldwide. It’s a powerful tale that surprised audiences once they had discovered that it was a true tale. It was written by Matt Greenhalgh, who is certainly no stranger to scouse narratives, after he had previously written the screenplay for Nowhere Boy back in 2009.
The narrative focuses on the personal life Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening), who was an Oscar winning actor and at one time, seen as a screen rival to Marilyn Monroe. In the mid-1970’s, Grahame was predominantly working in theatre and whilst staying in London, she met a young actor from Liverpool called Pete Turner (Jamie Bell), whom she immediately struck-up an instant romance with.
As their romance blossoms, Grahame falls ill and she decides to try and recuperate away from the limelight, so she retreats to Pete’s family home in Liverpool. It’s a heartwarming tale about a fading film star wanting to spend some time in a city that they love so dearly.
Of course, there are many locations that feature throughout the films run time, but one prominent scene takes place in Ye Cracke, one of the finest watering holes in Britain. You can visit the pub on Rice Street, order yourself a beverage, pick a tune on their glorious juke box and enjoy the cinematic link that the venue has to offer.
Boys from the Black Stuff
Boys from the Black Stuff is a gritty five-part drama series that originally aired on BBC Two back in 1982. It was written by Liverpool writer, Alan Bleasdale and it focuses on the social struggles of the British working class during Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister; in a time when just over one-eighth of the population was unemployed.
The titular “Black Stuff” is due to the central characters in the show, being tarmac layers before they lost their jobs, and over the course of the five episodes, we see them trying to find their way in world, during a notoriously difficult time.
One of the major locations from the show was The Green Man pub, which was located on Vauxhall Road, just outside of the city centre. Unfortunately, that location has recently been demolished with new housing built on its site, however, one part of the city features in a particularly prominent scene and it is all the more noteworthy due to how it has changed in the years since the shows release.
Today, the Royal Albert Dock is one of the most beautiful parts of the city. It’s a vibrant hub, filled with museums, galleries, restaurants and cafes, and yet, in Boys from the Black Stuff it is shown as being a derelict, tired and dangerous area to visit. It wasn’t until the end of the 1980s, when the now booming area, was drastically redeveloped to make it more appealing to visitors.
If you would like to discover more of Liverpool’s cinematic secrets, then you can join Gary on a film location walking tour by booking online at reeltours.co.uk (new dates are on the site now).
Alternatively you can follow them on their social media channels, which are listed below.
As we gradually emerge from lockdown, it’s good to still keep on top of our mental health this spring.
There are a host of meditation and yoga classes online, such as those at Mix Pose and Liverpool’s Planet Yoga. The Mind Map website also acts as a one-stop shop to deal with mental health matters. They offer a range of help, including counselling, training and advice.
3. Spring planting
Get planting this spring for a very colourful summer and a way to reconnect with nature. Summer bulbs are ideal for patio containers and add colour to mixed borders without taking up much space.
Bulbs such as Alliums, Agapanthus and Cannas can be planted in spring, when the soil is beginning to warm up. The National Trust and the BBC have some great planting tips to get you started.
4. Take a course/ Be a volunteer
Try something new this spring and start a new course or volunteer for a charity.
Signs4Life free 6 week BSL course is a new initiative to encourage more members of the public to take up sign language. You could also take up volunteer work with a charity such as Mind or a local food bank.
Take up a new form of exercise. Cycling is great for getting out and about in the warmer weather, have a look at Liverpool City Council’s cycling information for cycle maps, routes, CityBike hire and more. Outdoor exercise is relatively cheap and another great way to help with mental health.
The new lockdown changes will also allow more use of our parks, including tennis courts and outdoor gym facilities. If you’re in need of some inspiration, the BBC has some great resources and ideas.
6. Outdoor art activities
Outdoor drawing and painting are fantastic ways to enjoy the spring weather and take in the scenery. There are many online drawing classes if you need help to get started.
Take in some art this spring. The 2021 Liverpool Biennial opens in March with a host of events. The event commissions new art every two years, previous exhibitions have included Anthony Gormley’s Another Place.
The Independents Biennial is also well worth checking out to discover emerging artists, this year they feature Jay Hampton and Mark Simmonds, amongst many others.
Both festivals run 20 March-6 June.
8. Easter treats
With Easter just around the corner there’s plenty of opportunities to get creative in the kitchen with the family.
Homemade Easter eggs are great fun to make and you could also try making customised hot cross buns. These are perfect for allowing kids to make their own designs and get creative. BBC Good Food has a variety of fun Easter projects for kids, which should keep the whole family entertained for hours.
9. Spring crafts
If you are looking for a fun way to celebrate the spring season, try some spring crafting. There are many fun and easy ways to create, such as flower crafts and butterfly rings for kids. These can be made with craft supplies you probably already have on hand.