Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Brookie's best - Remembering Jimmy Corkhill

I loved Brookside back in the 1980s and one of my fave characters was that of Jimmy' Corkhill, played by the excellent Dean Sullivan. He joined the series in 1986, originally arriving in a recurring basis appearing along side his on-screen brother, Billy Corkhill, he then became a regular, remaining in the show until its demise 17 years later. He is also cited as one of the show's most popular characters and was the longest featured character. Jimmy has often been cited as a lovable rogue by the media.

Dean Sullivan became the longest serving cast member in the serial's history, was initially only contracted to appear in six episodes as a recurring character, however due to his popularity he was taken on full time and remained for seventeen years. When the serial was axed Sullivan stated he felt bereaved and it was like losing an old friend.
In the early 1990s, Jimmy suffered from a drug addiction which nearly destroyed his relationship with Jackie Corkhill. He had numerous jobs including a barman and bouncer at "Bar Brookie", working for Mick Johnson in his pizza takeaway, a cleaner in a school and ultimately a history teacher at his local school. In November 1993, his cocaine addiction seriously affected his driving and he caused neighbour Frank Rogers to swerve off a road and crash. Frank, who had just married Lyn Matthews, was badly injured and died just after arriving in hospital. His passenger, fourteen-year-old Tony Dixon, suffered a fractured skull and spent three months in a coma before dying.
A short time after, his son "Little Jimmy" became a heroin addict; later being murdered by drug dealers. Jimmy started taking ecstasy tablets in 1994, and actor Dean Sullivan urged Brookside producers to kill off his character in a bid to warn youngsters about the dangers of taking drugs. But he was not killed off.
In January 1995, Jimmy and Eddie Banks found the body of Childbeater Trevor Jordache (Bryan Murray), who had been killed two years earlier, by his wife Mandy Jordache, and his daughter Beth Jordache then buried him under the patio - the storyline was called 'The Body Under The Patio' plot, and was one of Brookside's most moving storyline. A tragedy struck the Corkhills in November 1996 when Little Jimmy was murdered by drug dealers. There was a brief respite for Jimmy and Jackie in July 1997 when, both in their forties, they had a third child William. More bad news was to come for Corkhill as he was eventually rumbled at his job at the school for falsifying certificates, which he had enlisted the help neighbour Danny Simpson to do so. He developed manic-depression (bipolar disorder) and was eventually removed from his job. This precipitated a severe bi-polar episode culminating in him losing the will to live and experiencing hallucinations. He also suffered delusions. On occasion - convinced he was still a teacher - he arrived at school to teach a lesson clad in odd shoes. This culminated in him locking his pupils in his classroom where he shook tables and starting ranting and screaming. A boy in his class protested about this and called him a "weirdo". This led to the boy having a bloody nose as Corkhill grabbed him and smacked his face on a table. Consumed with guilt he ran out the class and went up to the roof where he was ready to commit suicide. His daughter Lindsey Corkhill and a neighbour Ray Hilton heard about this and tried to convince him not to kill himself. The police were also informed and rushed to the scene, two policemen went up to the roof and were standing behind Corkhill. Corkhill jumped off the roof but was saved just in time by one of the policemen. After this he was advised to go to his GP and he was put on anti-depressants.
In 2001, his marriage to Jackie ended in separation after many years. After the siege neighbour Nikki Shadwick began to see Jimmy as a father figure, however her feelings turned to infatuation and the two slept together in 2002. Jimmy Corkhill remained in the series until the show ended in 2003. He starred in the show's final scenes which included him painting "Game Over" on his house and adding a "D" to the street-sign so it read "Brookside Closed." He then went to live with his son-in-law, Barry Grant and daughter in their mansion in Blaydon, Tyne & Wear. The final scene of Brookside saw Jimmy winking at the camera.
In 2000, Jimmy and Jackie Corkhill received the best on-screen partnership award at the British Soap Awards He was then nominated in the category of "Best Actor" at the 2002 award ceremony. In 2003 Dean Sullivan received the Special Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards for his portrayal of the character. Virgin Media included Jimmy in their "80's finest" segment and stated: "Jimmy Corkhill arrived on Brookside Close as a wheeler-dealer, but over his 17 years on the show he also showed us the horrors of drugs, and showcased a lot of scary-faced mental illness acting." Newspaper the press branded him as one of the serial's most popular characters. Jimmy became noted for wearing a trademark denim shirt, the shirt was won in a competition after the serial stopped airing. Rachel Murphy of the Daily Mirror  branded Jimmy a "lovable nutter" and also stated: "Jimmy has ducked and dived through a hilarious and heart-breaking catalogue of crime, drug abuse, mental illness and tragedy". In 2004 Northwest Regional Development Unit branded Jimmy a "lovable rogue" type, a label which Click Liverpool also attributed to the character. In addition the BBC have stated he is a "much-loved rogue".
The Northern Echo praised the character stating: "In criminal and activist Jimmy Corkhill, Dean Sullivan has created one of the soap's most memorable characters. He remains one of the few links with the Brookie heyday when it was regularly in the news. After nearly 20 years he's closely identified by the public with the character, which was originally only scheduled to appear in six episodes

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