Thursday, 8 March 2012

Brookside's Finest - Barry Grant


Barry Grant was the bad boy of the now defunct Channel 4 Soap Opera Brookside. Barry was portrayed by Paul Usher and was in the series from episode one in 1982 until 1995 with several sporadic guest appearances in 1997, 1998 and the final episode in 2003.
Barry Grant is arguably the most dislikeable and feared soap villain of all time. Because of the rawness of Brookside, Grant would take things a step further than his counterparts in other UK soaps, once shoving a gun up the behind of Calum Finnegan as he attempted to rape his girlfriend (Lindsay Corkhill). Finnegan was eventually locked in a container and ended up in Kenya and subsequently had to have a kidney transplant.
Bobby and Sheila Grant raised their three children Barry, Karen and Damon on a run-down Liverpool council estate. Barry, the eldest, was always the black sheep of the family. Barry was expelled from school at age 15 for attacking a group of bullies who constantly picked on and bullied his best friend Terry Sullivan. Bobby Grant grafted for years in an effort to move away from the rough council estate flats. In 1982 Bobby and Shelia’s dream came true and they were able to buy their first home and the family moved into Brookside Close. In 1988 it is revealed that Barry Grant's real father is in fact Matty Nolan, a family friend of the Grants. Barry Grant was considerably older than his siblings. At the start of the series he was 23, compared to 15 year old Karen and 14 year old Damon.
Barry started out as a young 'scally' who, together with an often reluctant best friend Terry, was always looking for easy ways to make money. Such scams consisted of torching his Jaguar in order to claim off the insurance, stealing copper from building sites, and buying and selling stolen items. Barry was always the apple of his mother Sheila's eye but had a less sturdy relationship with his father Bobby who was eventually revealed to be his stepfather.
Although Barry was usually on the wrong side of the law, he was shown to be the more respectable of the Grant brothers in early episodes. In contrast to Damon's hot-headed recklessness, Barry was calm and responsible and made amends with the Collins after Damon vandalised their house. Barry was hard-working and smart in contrast to Damon. After Barry was stabbed in December 1982 the doctor told him to stay off work, however shortly after Bobby was out-on-strike and the Grants struggled to pay their mortgage. Despite doctors advice Barry went back to work so that his father would not have to suffer the indignity of crossing his own picket line.
In the early episodes Barry strikes up a friendship with the recently widowed Petra Taylor. The two run away for a holiday in the Isle of Man together where Petra miscarries. Barry becomes irritated by Petra's depression after the loss of her husband and unborn baby and steals charity money from Sheila before heading to London. Petra later commits suicide and Marie Jackson blames Barry for her suicide.
After losing his building job after being caught stealing materials Barry and Terry got involved with shady gangster character Tommy McArdle. In his early appearances, McArdle would drop by the close unnanounced to get Barry and Terry to do a job for him, like when he requested they valet his car to rid the back seat of what McArdle described as 'pig's blood'. In a stronger storyline, (and one of Brooksides first sensational ones) under instructions from Tommy McArdle the two provide an alibi for the perpertrators of an armed robbery. Local fireman and neighbour George Jackson is convicted for this crime instead, the key evidence being that he (foolishly) drew a map of the warehouse for McArdle, who used him for his knowledge of the place. In another scam, Barry and Terry enter in a pirate video deal with McCardle, (which also saw Barry briefly involved with Lucy Collins - daughter of residents Paul and Annabelle). This particular job went wrong for Barry, and although he had not tried to cross McArdle it ended in the beating of Barry and Terry within an inch of their lives in the tool hire shop that they ran. Barry typically made a quick recovery, but Terry was seriously hurt and spent a long time in hospital and for a while afterwards was walking with a limp. The McArdle beating one was too much for Barry to try and get revenge on and so sensing he has no friends or future in Liverpool, Barry takes a job as a shop fitter, a job that will take him all around the country.
Barry returns following the rape of his mother. This event finally splits up his parents, and with No.5 on the verge of being repossessed by the bank, Barry moved back in with his mother to try to keep up with the mortgage payments.
Barry got involved with a gangster called Sizzler. Sizzler, a southerner living on The Wirral (and depicted as having a chronic stuttering voice; particularly when words started with a 's') 'owned' Barry, once he found out that not only had he bedded his lady but had soiled his favourite bathrobe in the process. So after agreeing to work off his debt to Sizzler, Barry would do various odd jobs for him, such as when Sizzler wanted to buy a chain of amusement arcades, but the current lady owner refused to sell. Sizzler wanted Barry to kidnap her dog, cut of its head and send it to her in an effort to get her to change her mind. (The episode which ended with Barry on the verge of cutting of the dogs head prompted over 200 complaints to Channel 4). However it was revealed in the next episode that Barry couldn’t go through with it.
Barry envied the lifestyles of Tommy McArdle and Sizzler and realised that crime, does indeed, pay.
Sheila and Barry were eventually evicted from the family home, and the house was repossessed by the bank. Sheila moved in with Billy Corkhill (and later they started a relationship together) while Barry lived rough in a Vokswagen Camper van for a while. While he is homeless he and Sinbad sell toy seals as presents for Christmas 1988. They later however find them to be poisonous and spend Christmas Day trying to steal them back from children to whom they have been sold. At the end of 1989 Barry left the area once again for some work in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Barry returned in August 1990 for the wedding of Terry and Sue. Terry and Sue allowed Barry to lodge in their house during this time. Whilst Barry had been away he had been running a series of illegal warehouse raves. This turned out to be a real money-spinner and he planned to do the same thing in Liverpool. Following a couple of successful warehouse raves in the city (and calling the police half way through the night to generate publicity for the next one) Barry planned the biggest rave yet, which required financial backing which came in the form of two cockney brothers. Together they organised a big rave night which didn’t go according to plan when Barry discovered one of the brothers dealing drugs to kids in the toilets. Barry, never a fan of drugs, decided this meant the brothers should forfeit their share of the profits and made a quick escape with the bag full of notes. The brothers were soon on Barry trail, and after seeing Barry with Sue and her little boy Danny, they assumed it was Barry’s son and so kidnapped him demanding the money back for his safe return. Barry successfully negotiated his release, but the brothers exacted further revenge by locking Barry in an industrial freezer on Christmas Day 1990. Barry made an ‘igloo’ out of frozen turkey boxes and was pulled out semi-conscious by Terry. After a few days in hospital Barry discharged himself, drove to London and planted a shotgun in one of the brothers cars before tipping off the police. Barry returned to Liverpool in high sprits to see in the new year.
Amidst all this Barry still found time to sort out Joey Goddon. Goddon had just been released from prison for the murder of Jimmy and Billy Corkhill's brother, Frankie. Goddon was hell-bent on giving the Corkhill family grief, threatening them, and dishing out general abuse. As the weeks and months went on, the war between the two families was escalating out of control but Goddon’s big mistake was to threaten Barry’s mother, Sheila. Barry drove to Goddon’s house, smashed through his back door and shoved a shotgun in his face, threatening to blow his brains out if he ever went anywhere near the Corkhill family again. During 1991 Barry made friends with a millionaire property developer, and Barry ended up 'acquiring' a new development being built near the Close. The development would consist of 4 shop units and 4 flats above. This was Barry’s big chance to 'go legit'.

Barry was unable to sustain a long-term relationship with women. He could gets girls into bed, but when they found out his true character they soon left him. Barry was jealous of the relationship Terry had with Sue. Barry was adamant that Terry could do better than Sue, and so he sets out to destroy her. After months of being deeply unpleasant to her, Barry turns on the charm and sleeps with her. Sue was wracked with guilt and threatened to tell Terry the truth. So, in October 1991, Barry pushed Sue and her young child Danny from the scaffolding on Brookside parade resulting in both their deaths. Barry has always maintained this event was an accident and he was only trying to put the ‘frighteners’ on her to stop her telling Terry their secret.

Nevertheless, Barry made sure the finger of guilt was firmly pointed towards lawyer Graeme Curtis, a work colleague of Sue’s who had an unhealthy infatuation with her. Graeme was charged and found guilty of the double murder and while in prison either took his own life or was himself murdered for being a child killer. Barry later confessed his crime to a priest.

Meanwhile Barry rented out his shops and flats. One of the flats was rented to a mysterious Asian man who paid well above the market rate for the flat in return for Barry not asking any questions and not keeping records about the tenants. With strong metal doors applied the flat and coming and goings throughout the night, curiosity soon got the better of him and Barry broke in to discover the printing of counterfeit bank notes.

By February 1992 Barry was getting tired of Fran, especially when she began to turn the screw and realised it was Barry who murdered Sue and Danny and not Graham. A desperate Barry took Fran hostage at gunpoint. Knowing he was going on the run, Barry broke into the upstairs flat and helped himself to £25,000 of counterfeit money. Barry was wracked with guilt over what he had done to Sue and Danny, and let Fran go. He took Terry to a deserted beach (suggested as being Wallasey beach) and revealed that he had slept with Sue and murdered her and Danny. Barry gave Terry a loaded shotgun with the command “Do your own justice”. This episode was notable in Brookie history for only containing Barry and Terry in it, at the beach location, with a cliffhanger ending that revealed in the next episode Terry couldn’t bring himself to kill Barry. He decided that he wanted him alive so he would have to live every day knowing what he did and so Barry fled to Spain.

In December 1992, a young lady named Jo Halsaw was opening a nightclub on the parade with Barry Grant as her business partner. Jo gave Terry a package, which contained two flight tickets to Spain and a fist full of pesetas. Terry took Sinbad along for the ride. When they arrived in Spain he met up with Barry, who wanted to know if it was safe for him to return home as he was opening a night club with Jo Halsaw.

After getting the nod from Terry, Barry returned to Liverpool a few days later. The first thing Barry did upon returning was to torch Jimmy Corkhill’s shop, Kowboy Kutz. Jimmy had been squatting in one of Barry’s shop units and could not come up with the back-rent. Jimmy refused to vacate the premises, knowing he had time on his hands for the matter to be resolved in the courts. However Barry decided to smoke him out and destroy his stock. Barry set fire to his stock and immediately called the fire brigade. However, the heating had been cut off in the shop and Jimmy was heating the place via gas bottles, which exploded the entire front of the shop out, much to Barry’s horror.

With Jimmy out of business, Barry felt slightly guilty he had destroyed his living so sent him on a course and gave him a job on the doors of the new nightclub, La Luz. This job turned out to be a change in the fortunes (and character role) of Jimmy, who becamed embroiled in various dodgy plots from this point onwards. Terry asked Barry for £500, and while Barry was trying to question him what is was for Terry just demanded the money. Barry followed him to a house, and was just about to drive off when he discovered Fran emerge carrying Barry’s offspring. Barry demanded access to his son, but Fran wanted to make sure that the boy was never to find out whom his dad was. Terry gave Fran the entire proceeds of Sue’s life insurance policy allowing her to completely disappear. Barry has never been able to track down his son, which was the ultimate revenge from Terry. The son was played by Stephen Powell. Meanwhile Jo Halsaw allowed the La Luz nightclub to become notorious for all the wrong reasons, allowing drugs and prostitution to operate out of the club and therefore the partnership between Barry and Jo never ran smoothly.
Wanting Barry out the partnership, Jo got her hired heavies to force Barry to sign the club completely over to her. Barry planned to torch the club for the insurance payout but was attacked by Jimmy Corkhill when he revealed to him that he had done it before to his shop.
Jo wanted Barry out of her way for good and so invited him to the club to talk about the future. Meanwhile Jo’s hired heavy, wearing Barry’s coat and stealing his car, runs down Jimmy Corkhill. Barry is arrested for attempted murder of Jimmy. Just when it looks like it's all over for Barry, the charges are dropped and he cautiously returns to the club, only to find his friend from Spain, Oscar Dean sitting behind the desk. Oscar has ousted Jo and bought the club himself. He immediately offers Barry a 60-40 partnership and hands the day-to-day management over to him.

Terry finds happiness again with a young Polish woman named Anna Wolska. Anna was an illegal immigrant and worked as a prostitute out of La Luz when Jo had control of the club. Anna was desperate to stay in the UK and was willing to pay a man to marry her. Anna and Terry became very close and Terry offered to marry her to ensure she could remain in the UK, however Anna didn’t want to ruin her good friendship with Terry and so declined. Barry got wind of this arrangement and offered his own deal to Anna – he would marry her if she would have his baby. (Barry was very desperate for a child of his own). Although she agreed the deal initially, it wasn’t long before she regretted it and had generally fallen in love with Terry. Terry and Anna plan a secret wedding and a new life away from Liverpool and she double crosses Barry by pretending the deal is still on but secretly taking the pill. Barry is not a man to cross and when he discovers the pills in her bag he hits her across the face and phones immigration. She was arrested and returned to Poland just before she and Terry could marry.

This event particularly broke Terry which led to his involvement with a religious cult headed by Simon Howe. The cult were squatting in number 5 Brookside Close (The Grants former residence) which Simon would call his ‘church’ and would hold regular meetings. Terry gets deeper and deeper into the cult as Barry tries to get him to see sense. Simon wanted Terry to buy the house so they could have a permanent place of worship, but before this happens Barry Grant buys the house.

Barry soon becomes impatient with Simon as he wants him out of his house, and to make things worse Simon and his followers start preaching about the perils of drinking and partying while handing out leaflets outside Barry’s night club. Barry decides to stop Simon once and for all, and with gun in hand, breaks into the house but is over powered, gagged, tied up and held hostage in one of the bedrooms. Terry starts preaching to him from the bible, but Barry doesn’t want to know. Nobody realises Barry is missing, thinking he has probably gone away on one of his many and mysterious trips ‘down south’.

Eventually Simon decides that since they can't have the house then no one can, and he builds a home-made bomb to destroy the house. They release Barry but the bomb goes off with all three still in the house. Barry and Terry are not seriously injured, but Simon ends up in hospital fighting for his life.

Terry keeps his faith and stays by Simons bedside as his injures heal. When Simon recovers he moves into a flat with Terry. Barry, not happy that Simon has not been charged with causing the explosion, breaks into the flats and attacks Simon, saying “I’ve killed before, and if you don’t disappear you'll be next”. With this Simon goes into hiding behind the Close using a few cardboard boxes for his home.

Later Simon tells Terry that their work is complete and its time to join the other side. They steal Barry’s car and drive into the woods, attaching a hose from the exhaust into the car, so that with both doors and windows shut the fumes will kill them both. However Barry arrives just in time to pull Terry from the fume filled car but leaves Simon behind to die.

Terry ends up with a serious mental disorder and is sectioned under the mental health act and taken to a psychiatric hospital. Barry refuses to let his mate waste away in an institution and illegally smuggles him abroard to have him nursed back to health by Oscar Dean's wife in Spain.

Barry left Brookside close in a hurry towards the end of 1993, when he got word of the whereabouts of Fran and his son. Finding his son was Barry's main personal agenda in life and despite the fact he was currently engaged to be married he didnt plan to stick around. Paul Usher left the show abruptly at this time and so this storyline was a bit out of the blue. All that was made of Barry's departure was a disembodied hand seen packing a suitcase and a rear shot of Barry speeding off out of the close in his Range Rover. For the next few years Barry didn’t return to Liverpool, his presence in the show was still mentioned though and he arranged for his shops, flats and nightclub to be managed by Terry, who eventually sold the club to dodgy Asian businessman Dil Parma. Terry then went on to sell rest of the complex to commercial developers. Barry eventually settled in Blaydon, Tyne and Wear off screen.

Barry returned in 1997 and began a relationship with his step-cousin, Jimmy's daughter Lindsay Corkhill, who herself was later to be involved in the same crime circles as Barry (this led to a much bigger role in the show for Lindsay) but to start with, Barry coincidentally met Jimmy Corkhill at the funeral of someone who owed a debt and after reluctantly agreeing to revisit the close for a drink in Bar Brookie, with Jimmy, he encountered Callum Finnegan, who at the same time was muscling in on Bar Brookie and the Dixons who owned it. Barry also met Lindsay for the first time on that occasion. During this period, November - December 1997, Barry agreed to protect Jacqui Dixon and Bar Brookie from the Finnegans in return for £30,000 cash. This agreement in turn led to a gang war between Barry and Callum Finnegan, culminating in the 'Lost Weekend' episode. Whilst protecting Bar Brookie, He gave Jacqui Dixon an ultimatum to pay by January 1, 1998 or he would torch the place. With little option but to pay Barry for taking care of Callum Finnegan, Jacqui agreed to be a surrogate mother for close resident Suzanna Farnham, (who was unable to conceive and was desperate for another baby). Once the £30,000 had been handed over to Barry and the Finnegans were out of the picture, Barry stuck around until the New Year, when it was revealed he was married and he disappeared to his 'house in the Midlands' - but not until having bedded Lindsay for the last time (on screen).
He stepped in to help when Jacqui Dixon, who now owned Bar Brookie was subjected to a protection racket by the Finnegans - a pair of Scottish gangster brothers (who controlled businesses such as Finnegan Security). Barry had supposedly bedded Jacqui while she was still a schoolgirl and so the two had a bit of history. Anyway, under pressure, and facing financial ruin at the hands of the Finnegans, Jacqui asked Barry for help. He initially didn't want anything to do with it but after a while he demanded thee cash in return for sorting Callum Finnegan. Initially, Barry took a beating at the hands of the Finnegan's heavies in the Bar Brookie toilets but he got his own back shortly after when he enticed Callum Finnegan into the office with an offer of "five grand a week business". Once in the office, Barry beat Finnegan and his heavy with a baseball bat and gave Callum (a suggested) ultiimatum to leave the Dixons alone. Not at all happy with this, Callum Finnegan planned to get revenge. Lindsay was then kidnapped by the Finnegans and held for ransom. This led to Barry tracking down the Finnegan hideout (on behalf of the Corkhills) and eventually finding, beating up and locking Callum Finnegan in a shipping container.
Depicted as living off the proceeds of years of crime and living in a large mansion near Newcastle Upon Tyne, Barry returned in full for Brookside's final episode in 2003 when it was revealed that he and Lindsay were to marry. At the end of the show's penultimate episode he had his heavies bundle Jimmy Corkhill into a car and driven to his mansion, where he held a gun to blindfodled Jimmy's head and in a put on brummy accent asked Jimmy if he could marry his daughter. After all that had calmed down a bit, Jimmy went on to tell Barry about Jack Michaelson. Slightly concerned that a new gangster figure was again threatening the close and the Corkhills in particular, Barry agreed to go back to the close "for old time's sake". So he returned to Brookside Close with Jimmy and Lindsay where he met Tim O'Leary. He also had a brief dialogue with Michaelson, mocking his small time criminal existence. Barry then went over to Jimmy's house - (the infamous) No. 10 Brookside Close - and advised 'Tinhead' with a way of dealing with Michaelson, reciting a story called 'The Stranger's Field'. Michaelson was later lynched from his bedroom window by three unspecified Brookside Close residents.
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