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TV: Liverpool on the Box

From Z Cars to Brookie, Vinny Lawrenson Woods on what's in store on BBC Four this week as the city is portrayed on the telly

Published on August 19th 2008.

TV: Liverpool on the Box

THERE is no doubt that Liverpool has had its fair share of telly coverage in 2008: The Capital of Culture Opening Ceremony, The Liverpool Nativity, The Antiques Roadshow, Alexi Sayle's Liverpool, Time Team and Les Dennis’ Liverpool to name a few. And the trend continues this week with Liverpool on the Box.

Scheduled every night until Friday (August 22) BBC Four is marking European Capital of Culture year with a series of Mersey stuff from the archives.

Among the scheduled programmes are Liverpool classics including Z Cars and the movie Educating Rita, as well as lesser known plays The Golden Vision by Ken Loach and the better known Our Day Out from Willy Russell.

In the actual “Liverpool on the Box” programmes, there are the obligatory music documentaries about the Beatles and the Mersey Sound. Comedy is covered, with nods to The Liver Birds and Brookside. Finally Liverpool’s not-so-resident historian, Alexei Sayle, talks to Mark Lawson to bring it all to an end on Friday.

The series is not just about Liverpool-themed television but how it has been portrayed on the small screen over the years. Although the recent coverage of the city in the media has improved there’s still a predictability in the content, which is fast becoming a parody of itself.

Passport to Liverpool, on Wednesday, follows the city’s maritime history, its dissenting past, and its music in an all-too-familiar tone, typical of the scouse documentary. History is important, but mythology continues to out-do it, while encouraging a romanticism about Liverpool’s long lost golden era. There are good historical reasons why this psyche exists, but this sort of film is proof that Liverpool has to loosen its grip on the past and embrace a new vibrancy with confidence if it wishes its image to change.

Nevertheless Liverpool on the Box is a must-see for anyone remotely interested in the city, and promises some memorable takes.

You can see all these again on BBC iPlayer for the next seven days, so we've included stuff that's already been transmitted.

BBC Four - Liverpool on the Box

Sunday, 17 August

23:00 - Film: Educating Rita

Monday, 18 August

19:30 - Chambre Hardman and The Lost City of Liverpool
20:00 - Passport to Liverpool
20:50 - The Wednesday Play - The Golden Vision
23:05 - Film: Gumshoe
00:25 - Stuart Sutcliffe - The Lost Beatle
01:25 - Rock Family Trees: The Mersey Sound
02:15 - Rock Family Trees: The New Mersey Beat
03:05 - Stuart Sutcliffe - The Lost Beatle

Tuesday, 19 August

20:00 - Liverpool On The Box
21:00 - More Liverpool On The Box
21:15 - Z Cars - Four of a Kind
22:00 - Call The Cops: Z Cars
00:50 - Liverpool On The Box
01:50 - Call The Cops: Z Cars
03:40 - Call The Cops: Z Cars (signed)

Wednesday, 20 August

00:30 - Passport to Liverpool

Thursday, 21st August

20:00 – Documentary (1959): Morning In The Streets.
20:35 - Tales of Twelve Cities: The Comic's Tale
21:15 - Trouble at the Top, A Hard Days Fight

Friday, 22nd August
21:00 - Liverpool On The Box
22:00 - Z Cars, Friday Night
22:50 - Call The Cops - Z Cars
23:20 - Our Day Out
01:25 - Liverpool On The Box
02:25 - My Dad's A Communist
02:55 - Mark Lawson Talks... Alexei Sayle

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Jim McCabeAugust 19th 2008.

F. Stopp, unfortunately both the Chambre Hardman & "The Golden Vision" programmes are not available on the BBC iPlayer. "Passport to Liverpool" is, but unless you're the sort of saddo who listens to parochial presenters on Radio Merseyside, reads the Liverpool Echo religiously & votes in the risible "Scouseology" awards, it would be a waste of your time.

DigAugust 19th 2008.

Does anybody know if the Chambre Hardman programme will be shown again? Gutted I missed it. His documentation of Liverpool history is inspired.

Harrison LineAugust 19th 2008.

'Passport to Liverpool' was indeed more of the same old dreary revisionist fantasy for cranks as Mr. Lawrenson-Woods says. Jobless people joined the merchant marine from desperation, rather like the way today they join the army, not out of some romantic notion.

Karen RantAugust 19th 2008.

I agree with Vinny. A lot of this fare makes you realise why Liverpool has the image it has. I see Harry Enfield's scousers are nowhere to be seen. The funniest portrayal of the place I've seen, and, yes, I am from here.

Jim McCabeAugust 19th 2008.

The Chambre Hardman programme was excellent (it still seems strange to hear John Peel's lugubrious tones btw). Passport to Liverpool attempted to dispel one or two cliches about the city, yet ended up merely reinforcing them; the mawkish "Mary Ellens" section fell straight into the "Self-Pity City" trap. It focused far too much on the past, effectively declaring, "This is our selling point" to the rest of the world. It was about as forward-looking as a Policy Exchange report. Speaking as a Liverpudlian, I thought "The Golden Vision" was a gem. It can now be seen as a remarkable social document of football terrace culture. Ken Loach's production technique of mixing genres was inspired.

Harrison LineAugust 19th 2008.

Well said about the drowning, Catch 22! It's people like her spouting fantastic rubbish like this that gets Liverpudlians the undeserved reputation for mawkish sentimentalism!

Alan BAugust 19th 2008.

Just watched Our Day Out for the first time in about 100 years. Very dated now,not only in terms of its sentiments, but also the production and script values. You would never get away with such over simplification these days. It was considered to be gritty and real in its time, and yet just another stereotypical "robbing scousers" piece in the cold light of day over 25 years later.

F. StoppAugust 19th 2008.

It's been on twice already, Dig! Get yourself one of those computer things and use those BBC iPlayer services that Licence-payers can't have!

RonsonAugust 19th 2008.

Robbie Guy was good though. Whatever happened to him?

Peter StreetAugust 19th 2008.


catch 22August 19th 2008.

could have watched a whole hour just following the River Pilot chap on Passport to Liverpool. Truly facinating and wonderfully understated chap. Nearly threw the telly out the window at the woman who 'realised later in life that her fear of water was actually rooted in caused by the drwoning of slaves'. your fear of something can't be caused by something you don't know about !!! I can't be frightened by the colour blue because anne robinsons pants are that colour if I've never seen them. This kind of pointless afro centrism cheapens the actual horror of the slave trade, glosses over the horror caused by current african leaders and recently has seen the acheivements of great men like wilberforce and E.D.Morrel played down. Oh and when will E.d.Morrel get the recognition he deserves in Liverpool?

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