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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've copied the following article from the print-version of the Radio Times. There doesn't seem to be an online version to link to. If this is a problem, I'll edit it out -

Scouse Honour

So you think you know Liverpool? Alexei Sayle begs to differ. He thinks the city has been misrepresented for long enough...

Alexei Sayle's Liverpool will be the first Tv series with my name in its title for almost exactly ten years. I was last seen in a too-tight suit, standing alone, shouting. In case you thought I'd been in hospital or prison, I've spent the intervening decade becoming a highly repsected authour and growing a pointy grey beard, which, as you can see from the photograph on this page, (photograph shown) has a personality all of its own.

Though I've done a bit of acting and presenting in that period, I was happy to be out of television. From time to time, some young documentary-maker would come to me with an idea for a series called Alexei Sayle's Favourite Fish or Alexei Sayle's Troublespot Benefits, in which I was supposed to do stand-up in front opf armed militias like the Tamil Tigers and the Taliban - but I had no trouble turning those ideas down.

Two years ago, though, when I was first offered this series, it was obviously a much more exciting proposition. I left Liverpool to go to college in London at the age of 18. (It's hard for students now to believe it but, back then, if your parents were working class, you got a full grant, all your fees paid and you were given a gold hat with a clock in it.) In those days, the city was in trouble and I thought I'd find my fortune in London, where I was convinced I'd shortly be hanging around with Sir Noel Coward and Dame Sybil Throndike as soon as I found out what pub they drank in.

It didn't quite work out like that, and my home city has continued to exert a strong pull on me - I have bene back more than 200 times. There have been family visits, benefit gigs for various causes, my own shows at the Playhouse and the Empire, and a couple of appearances on Richard and Judy's show when they were based there, so I thought Liverpool was one subject on which I was truly qualified to make a documentary series.

Liverpool is a city you can leave, but that doesn't mean Liverpool will leave you. Throughout most of my adult life I have been pursued by images of my home city, though it didn't start out this way. When I was a little kid in the 1950's, my homw town was a thriving, bustling port, streets of terraced houses, a pub on every corner and the odd Greek temple in the centre of town. Yet Liverpool didn't feature much on the national stage until things started to go awry. The city was facing the wrong way for the new trade with Europe and the docks were the only industry we had. The river had paid the way for the rest of the city like an indulgent sugar daddy, while most of us stayed in bed eating toffees and flicking through movie magazines. Now out sugar daddy was broke.

Strangely, though, about the same time as the city's economic decline began, another mythical Liverpool started to rise on our TV and cinema screens. For its size, it's the most filmed city in the world. Television series set there include Z Cars, The Liver Birds, Bread, Boys from the Blackstuff, GBH, and Brookside, while films include Violent Playground, Letter to Brezhnev, The 51st State, Gumshoe, No Surrender, and of course the 1999 movie Swing, in which I played a violent Protestant trumpeter. There was the Merseybeat and the Mersey poets, as well as strikes, a Trotskyist council, the Toxteth riots, gun crime and the Hillsborough and Heysel disasters. No wonder people got the impression that Liverpool was a weird mixture of Hollywood and the Gaza Strip.

To be honest, that image was never true, and I hope making these three one-hour films will give me an opportunity to add more balance the the cty's image. Even during the worst years there were prosperous, leafy suburbs and fine civic buildings, but, in the past ten or 15 years, Liverpool has been improving at speed. From the start of this year, that improvement has been kicked into hyperdrive by the year-long festival of the arts that goes with being named European Capital of Culture [the city shares the accolade this year with Stavanger and Sandnes in Norway].

The town centre is being virtually rebuilt and throughout this year there will be concerts, art exhibitions, plays and all manner of performance events. The BBC's major contribution to this jamboree of high culture was to send me and a film crew to work for nearly four months in the city of my birth. Over the course of the filming, it felt like we visited more or less everywhere and talked to more or less everybody on Merseyside. Indeed, if these films prove popular with some in Liverpool for their humour, perceptiveness and honestly, this effect will be more than counteracted by the number of interviewees who are enraged to discover they've been cut out of the finished programmes! So I'd like to take the opportunity to apologise to Steven Gerrard, Sir Paul McCartney, Ken Dodd, my brother-in-law and all the others right now.

Genuinely, it's been a real privelege and an unexpected pleasure to spend so much continuous time in this notorious and luminous place, and my hope is that those viewers who've never been there will get a more rounded view of the city than that generally presented by the media. If nothing else, they will be astonished at the beauty of the place, since these films are staggeringly well directed and shot, which has nothing to do with me.
Alexei Sayle's Liverpool
Fridays 9pm from 6th June
BBC2

~~~~~~~

I must say when I first heard he was doing a series of programmes on the city , I was quite concerned as he hasn't always been entirely complimentary about the city, even as recently as 2003 when we were award ECoC, despite the fact things were already looking up for the city at that point. This article however makes me a little less concerned about what might be contained therein. Although I think some parts of these programmes will inevitably play into the hands of our detractors. I think taken as a whole, they will hopefully show the course of the city over the last few decades, from the troubles of the post-industrial era - which we should not shy away from - to the re-birth and of the city we have seen in the last decade, and should leave an impression of a city moving forward, and changing for the better.
 

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^^Hm. We'll see. Sayle's view of Liverpool seems to have improved once he'd landed a lucrative tv series. "Actually, I love the place: give me a commission!" As he admits above, it is virtually the first time he's been on tv for a decade.

Last time we encountered Sayle in a Liverpool context it was as a smug sneering, Bloomsbury-domiciled self-loathing exile who had seemed to have come to believe his own publicity that he was some kind of great intellectual who deserved only to live in London. His comments on Liverpool that caused offence where based around the notion, not that Liverpool does not have good cultural facilities, but that they shouldn't dare to.

Very weird stuff and difficult to explain (I'm struggling...). The implication was that culture is only the preserve of great figures - London figures - such as he.

Of course, Sayle is no more than a not-very-funny stand up who got lucky with an act that (naturally :eek:hno:) traded on an exaggerated Scouse accent. His books are average and their relative success is much to do with name recognition.

The truth is that Sayle probably knows little about Liverpool. He went away to art college at 19 and didn't even get his sixth form and arts foundation education in Liverpool or Bootle, having gone to Southport Tech after his school years. Essentially, he has only childhood memories of the place.

In recent years, his visits to the area were fairly frequent but only to visit his elderly mother, by then living in a home in Southport. I doubt he travelled into Liverpool itself much at these times.

This might go some way to explain his previously demonstrated ignorance of and disconnection to the place.

As I've reported before, someone I know interviewed him after his culture comments mentioning, during a post-interview off the record chat, that they were from Liverpool, letting him know that the city centre was then being regenerated. He scoffed ,"but the place is still a dump". Comedians, huh?

But at least he's up for rent. Now, there's money and terrestial tv time on offer, he loves the place again.

As I said, we'll see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Interesting points Awayo. The issue that for me causes most irritation is when people from the city slag the place off. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting the city is perfect, nor am I suggesting people aren't entitled to their opinion. However when the opinions put forward are based on old memories of a city that no longer exists, and they have spent precious little time in the city in the recent past to form a proper opinion of the city as it is today, that is really irritating.

When attempting to defend the city from brickbats, it becomes harder when a detractor says well, 'Mr XYZ' comes from Liverpool and he says it's true, like their opinion is worth more than mine because they're famous, immaterial of the fact that they haven't spent any noticable time here in years. As such, whether he's doing it for the money, or whether he genuinely has re-connected with Liverpool and seen the strides the city has made is perhaps not important. What is important, if we are to change outsiders perceptions of the city, is someone who is known for having been somewhat derogatory in the past, standing up and saying, this is Liverpool in 2008, and it's good.
 

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Well, in the past, it payed to denounce the city, if you were to make it down in Old London Town. We were basically seen as a loathsome nation, to be pitied as inferior, if not actually despised. To make it down there, you basically had to become one of them, so they treated you as one of them and not one of those nasty theiving scousers. Of course, it's not as fashionable now, and saying nice things about Liverpool is acceptable, as long as you don't overdo it. Following trends makes people fashionable.
 

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I agree with Awayo that you can't leave a city aged 19 and claim to know it in any meaningful way -even if you return 200 times or more to visit a sick relative or 'stay in touch with the family' the connection is lost. You lose out on the formative experiences that most 18 -25 year olds have who stay in the city. As with all things it's fair to say that there are probably a few exceptions. He isn't one of them. I guess it would be legitimate to say that he knows about his own experience of Liverpool, growing up in Walton and all (or wherever it was he grew up in north Liverpool). Clearly Sayle is still marked by Liverpool (as we all are) but this is not the same as 'knowing' it. The blurb above, if it's representative of the type of analysis being offered, suggests that he has a simplistic view of the city's history that he atttempts to cover up with a series of generalisations. Sayle has made a good living out of being a professional scouser and he is aware that he has pissed off a lot of Liverpudlians with his previous snide remarks about the city. I suspect this is his attempt to make ammends.

Typical of the BBC - it chooses an ex-pat in his 50s who left the city as teenager to reveal it to the rest of the country. How do you reveal what you don't know? We'll have to wait and see. If the BBC had a real interest in showing a version of the 'real' Liverpool it should have asked someone like Rex Makin. I wonder why it didn't.
 

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It needn't be Rex Makin - anyone who actually knows the city well enough would do. Alexei Sayle doesn't fit this description by any stretch of the imagination.

Maybe it will work as infotainment but I suspect no one will remember much about what was said the following day.
 

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Typical of the BBC - it chooses an ex-pat in his 50s who left the city as teenager to reveal it to the rest of the country. How do you reveal what you don't know? We'll have to wait and see. If the BBC had a real interest in showing a version of the 'real' Liverpool it should have asked someone like Rex Makin. I wonder why it didn't.
What the choice indicates is something fairly subtle.

You'd expect a foreign tv station to send in, say, a London-born Hollywood actor to present a touristy programme about his "home town" for a US audience. "Here's Bob Hoskins taking us around the haunts of Saucy Jack."

The fact that the BBC has picked a Liverpool-born London media insider to do this job is in indication of how it sees Liverpool as somehow "the other". It's "From Our Own Correspondent" type stuff. You really wouldn't think that Liverpool is part of Britain and that its people have to pay a licence fee like everyone else.

Obviously, programmes about London (of which there are many) are written and presented by Londoners (including people who weren't born in the place but moved there), not expats who left the place almost forty years ago. Think about the weirdness of a programme about London presented by such a person and why it wouldn't happen and how it somehow manages to happen in a Liverpool context and the mystery of the English media's weird coverage of Liverpool becomes more apparent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just a thought. While I fully accept the points made that Alexei Sayle has only visited for decades, and as such is arguably less qualified to discuss the city than someone who has lived here almost exclusively throughout our troubles and our recent re-birth. But should he not be cut a little slack for actually coming here, exploring, and speaking to the people of the city? The sheer fact he came here is surely worth some credit. In the recent past, some in the media haven't even given the city that courtesy and have thought they could pass judgement on the city based on the information they can glean from the comfort of their Manchester/London based office. As such, surely his thoughts are worth more than other commentators who have never set foot in the city?
 

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Just a thought. While I fully accept the points made that Alexei Sayle has only visited for decades, and as such is arguably less qualified to discuss the city than someone who has lived here almost exclusively throughout our troubles and our recent re-birth. But should he not be cut a little slack for actually coming here, exploring, and speaking to the people of the city? The sheer fact he came here is surely worth some credit. In the recent past, some in the media haven't even given the city that courtesy and have thought they could pass judgement on the city based on the information they can glean from the comfort of their Manchester/London based office. As such, surely his thoughts are worth more than other commentators who have never set foot in the city?

Do you mean cut him some slack because he is milking the scouse milk cow once again? I don't think so. If you mean that it's ill advised to prejudge something that hasn't aired on the basis of deeply held prejudices. You're probably right. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Do you mean cut him some slack because he is milking the scouse milk cow once again? I don't think so.
To be honest, I wasn't passing comment on that aspect, which may or may not be true, depending on your point of view. I was merely highlighting the fact that by visiting the city to complete his programmes, he has shown the city more courtesy than some journalists have in the recent past, and as such, whatever his motives are, he should be cut a little slack for doing what is seemingly obvious when you are reporting on a city - actually visiting the place.
 

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Who knows? This might be okay. Pompous arse Sayle might be, he's not thick and so in actually spending time in the city and exploring it for perhaps the first time in his life, he might be able to say relevant and intelligent things about the place. His comments five years ago (the nowadays standard Scousers Are Addicted To Grief bollocks, shittily bringing up Hillsborough in particular) could reflect nothing more than the ignorance of a man who left the city as little more than a child and by then knew next to nothing about the place. He'd been fed the same anti-Liverpool bullshit by the London media as everyone else and didn't know any better.
 

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What the choice indicates is something fairly subtle.

You'd expect a foreign tv station to send in, say, a London-born Hollywood actor to present a touristy programme about his "home town" for a US audience. "Here's Bob Hoskins taking us around the haunts of Saucy Jack."

The fact that the BBC has picked a Liverpool-born London media insider to do this job is in indication of how it sees Liverpool as somehow "the other". It's "From Our Own Correspondent" type stuff. You really wouldn't think that Liverpool is part of Britain and that its people have to pay a licence fee like everyone else.

Obviously, programmes about London (of which there are many) are written and presented by Londoners (including people who weren't born in the place but moved there), not expats who left the place almost forty years ago. Think about the weirdness of a programme about London presented by such a person and why it wouldn't happen and how it somehow manages to happen in a Liverpool context and the mystery of the English media's weird coverage of Liverpool becomes more apparent.

I don't believe the presenter of any show about anywhere has to a have been born/bred/never left the place, never criticised it, how false and tame that would be. I'm sure the Alexei Sayle film won't be exclusively him talking about him and his Liverpool.

If you believe all that stuff aimed at the BBC, then no matter who they get in, the BBC will do their so called evil work on the 3 hours of film about Liverpool.

Maybe we should all now complain that instead of doing nothing about Liverpool during C.o.C, that we should complain that they are doing 3 hours of film about Liverpool.
 

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I don't think you've got my point, Juxta. Although it wasn't clearly expressed. I kinda know what I mean but it's not easy to put it into words. Eventually, we all become Sebo. :)
 

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Did'nt he make a comment on the lines 'Ive travelled the world looking for exciting places,only to find that it was the place I came from'
or something similar.

I never have found him funny- but if he is re-discovering his hime city and likes what he sees, then maybe a bit of slack is in order.

I guess it is difficult for Media types not to be drawn to London - that we have to forgive, but to start slagging us off when they get there is more difficult to stomach.
He may redeem himself with this programme -have to wait till next week!
 

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I don't think you've got my point, Juxta. Although it wasn't clearly expressed. I kinda know what I mean but it's not easy to put it into words. Eventually, we all become Sebo. :)
Tell us you point precisely, come on spit it out, don't try twisting and turning out of it.....:poke:
 

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"... I've been all over the world looking for excitement and it turns out that the most thrilling town I've ever visited is the one I was born in." Alexei Sayle

I don't understand people saying, "oh, he left when he was 19, he isn't suitable!" Who the hell is suitable, as in, who has a suitably high profile to be on TV and has barely left the city? Bev from Bar Brookie? Ricky Thomlinson? Wayne Rooney?

So what if he left when he was 19? Many people have left Liverpool in search of greener pastures. Most of them continue to love the place very deeply and will always have a soft spot for it. Liverpool has that strange sort of magnetic pull. 19 years is more than long enough to live in and know a place, especially if you re-visit and keep in touch with the place, and were born of parents from the place.

He may have said negative things about the city in the past, but he is no fake. He has never got rid of his accent; to most people, particularly outside of Liverpool, he will sound very scouse. He is identified as a man of Liverpool, and most people in this country won't know how old he was when he left. It is therefore a great privilege to have so many people see a programme on the city, led by a very intelligent, articulate and funny scouser. Better Alexei Sayle, known not only for his comedy, but for his documentaries and writing, than a farting, scruffy Ricky Thomlinson, or some other hideous stereotype.

It will be a programme about Liverpool, hosted by a man from (and importantly, identified as being from) the city, and one who, in his very being, portrays the city in a good light. All sorts come from Liverpool, not just the footy players and oafs so often portrayed in the media.

If the programme ends up being a big piss take then I will eat my words, but I don't think it will be. I think the city is beautiful and this will have shown through during the filming. People being able to see the city's fantastic architecture will make for very positive filming on its own. Then, I think Sayle will probably be fairly positive about the place. Even if it is 50/50 then I think that won't be a bad thing. After all, he is (as far as he is concerned, and as far as many are concerned) a Liverpudlian. If he berates the city then he is, in essence, berating himself. If that's how he wants it to be then so be it. He is entitled to do so.

There is a lot to be said for a man, and a place, that can laugh at itself. It is a mark of self assurance and confidence; also a mark, is it not, of the scouse (and Jewish) sense of humour. Better that than some corny, "my city is great, and that means I am great" fucking twattery. That's the sort of shallow crap I'd expect from some place else.

Anyway, here is some info on the man himself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexei_Sayle

And here is one of his sketches (I couldn't find the, "and if your name is Thatcher, you make people sick!" sketch) ... :lol:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=V2lB4-Y0WqQ

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=kQDNJoLGfE8&feature=related
 

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^^Hm. We'll see. Sayle's view of Liverpool seems to have improved once he'd landed a lucrative tv series. "Actually, I love the place: give me a commission!" As he admits above, it is virtually the first time he's been on tv for a decade.

Last time we encountered Sayle in a Liverpool context it was as a smug sneering, Bloomsbury-domiciled self-loathing exile who had seemed to have come to believe his own publicity that he was some kind of great intellectual who deserved only to live in London. His comments on Liverpool that caused offence where based around the notion, not that Liverpool does not have good cultural facilities, but that they shouldn't dare to.

Very weird stuff and difficult to explain (I'm struggling...). The implication was that culture is only the preserve of great figures - London figures - such as he.

Of course, Sayle is no more than a not-very-funny stand up who got lucky with an act that (naturally :eek:hno:) traded on an exaggerated Scouse accent. His books are average and their relative success is much to do with name recognition.

The truth is that Sayle probably knows little about Liverpool. He went away to art college at 19 and didn't even get his sixth form and arts foundation education in Liverpool or Bootle, having gone to Southport Tech after his school years. Essentially, he has only childhood memories of the place.

In recent years, his visits to the area were fairly frequent but only to visit his elderly mother, by then living in a home in Southport. I doubt he travelled into Liverpool itself much at these times.

This might go some way to explain his previously demonstrated ignorance of and disconnection to the place.

As I've reported before, someone I know interviewed him after his culture comments mentioning, during a post-interview off the record chat, that they were from Liverpool, letting him know that the city centre was then being regenerated. He scoffed ,"but the place is still a dump". Comedians, huh?

But at least he's up for rent. Now, there's money and terrestial tv time on offer, he loves the place again.

As I said, we'll see.
What he said. ^^

Just saved me a whole lot of typing.
Must repeat this bit though

smug sneering, Bloomsbury-domiciled self-loathing exile

Only saying the same thing about him t'other day when i caught talking about himself on something or other.

'Scouser for pay'.
 
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