Justine Kerrigan (Tracy Corkhill) Reflects on Channel 4’s Soap Brookside

Written by Justine Kerrigan
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Justine Kerrigan Tracy Corkhill  Brookside 4

© Words - Justine Kerrigan

My mum passed away when I was eleven, after this I spent a lot of time with family including my grandparents. One of my most vivid memories from the months that followed were my granddad, who was actor Peter Kerrigan taking me to a close just off Deysbrook lane in west derby and leaving me with a fabulous young man called Francis Harcombe. The close turned out to be Brookside close and the young man was a floor manager and was to become a very good friend of mine in the not so distant future. This was August 1982 and I had no idea how important this little close would become to me and my family and friends.

Justine Kerrigan Tracy Corkhill  Brookside4A year later I was in sewing class with the intrepid Mrs Griffiths and I was hauled out by the head teacher and sent off to town in a cab to meet my grandfather. No explanation as to what was happening and it wasn’t until I met him that I was told that I was auditioning for a part as Damon’s Girlfriend in Brooky. I had never even considered acting and this was all a bit of a surprise. Thinking back I do think being so unprepared and nonchalant about the whole thing actually won over the producer and I got cast as Pat for six episodes. I was then contacted two years later by my agent Ronnie and asked to be at the Liverpool everyman for 5.30 on Friday that week, this was July 1985,all that happened was, they took a photograph and sent us off. I was then asked to audition a week later and was offered the part of Tracy Corkhill , the tearaway teenage daughter of Billy and Doreen. I was thrilled to meet the whole family for a casting call and read through and Kate Fitz who played Doreen (Doe) became an instant idol. Jason and I best of mates and John was just the most fabulous actor to work with and I adored them all and still do.

I wasn’t aware at the time, mainly because of my age, just how controversial and out there Brooky was. There was a fabulous team of writers, including Jimmy McGovern. How we all loved being handed a script with Jimmy’s name on.  Always a challenge and always a pleasure. Soaps had always been purely for entertainment and Brooky pushed boundaries, dealing with topical issues. Not just affairs and scandal. Not for purposes of sensationalism but because the writers had a genuine passion for the issues they were writing about. I think there was no doubt about this because the writing and performances were, at the time outstanding.

My character was given some really gritty storylines and I loved Tracy. I felt I was so lucky to have been given that part. She was so naughty and hard faced and as a Liverpool teen, it was quite easy to fall in to character. The clothes always worried me though. Tracy’s wardrobe was at times..….…questionable. As I was under the age of sixteen, I was given a chaperone called Maureen Leigh. It was love at first sight. Maureen was my confident…she was funny and cheeky and everyone loved her. I was beside myself and rather lost the day I turned sixteen. I was on my own.

Justine Kerrigan Tracy Corkhill  Brookside 2

A normal working day was eight till six thirty. A long day and involved lots of sitting round. Hanging around make up and wardrobe was usually the place to be. Especially if Mickey starke was about. The day would then fly by with nothing but hysterical laughter.

Mickey tried for years to get me to corpse on set and found it impossible. I always managed a straight face no matter what, will power that has long since left me. One day on set, in the Corkhill kitchen, director just about to say action and I turned round and Mickey was standing there with a malt loaf in his hand and whispered the words directly to me ‘Soreen Corkhill’. Nobody else found this funny but I can honestly say I have never to this day laughed as much. We still laugh our heads about it now whenever we speak.

Another highlight was meeting Morrissey when filming a soap bubble for Thames called South. I had already met Morrissey at a Brookside party as he was a genuine fan. He sat me on his knee and bought me twenty Benson and hedges from the ciggie machine. He is a fabulous man, quite shy and a gentleman with a lovely soul. I feel very honoured to have worked with him.

/Justine Kerrigan Tracy Corkhill  Brookside  Paula Francis.As I was one of the younger members of the cast, it was great for me when Michelle Byatt was cast as Nikki White Tracy’s mate and the not long after Paula Francis was cast as Diana, Rods girlfriend. These have remained lifelong friends and we are still as giddy together now as we were then.

My saddest memory of the show was not being written out but being refused a story line to be written out. Mal Young the then producer also refused to discuss this with me and I was left rather confused about the whole thing. I felt it was every long term member of casts right to be given an appropriate ending but this was never the case. I am still unaware to this day as to why after eight years, this was never offered to me. I think this was the main reason I never pursued an acting career.

When asked would I like to see Brooky back on our screens …..My reply ‘look at what happened to crossroads’. Brooky was spoilt by self-indulgent cast who never questioned or challenged the diminishing respect the public had for the show. The writing was poor, save for the very talented Shaun Duggan who couldn’t do it all himself and it was like watching a car crash about to happen. I do think it’s sad that it ended that way and despite my sad departure, I never wanted to see it leave our screens but it passed the point pf no return and sadly I believe Phil Redmond was content with that.

Justine Kerrigan Tracy Corkhill

Read 24238 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 16:52
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