Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Dean Sullivan: Brookside actor dies aged 68

Dean Sullivan
Dean Sullivan

Actor Dean Sullivan has died at the age of 68, his family has confirmed.

Sullivan was best known for his portrayal of Jimmy Corkhill in the Channel 4 soap Brookside between 1986 and 2003.

The actor had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018.

In a statement, Sullivan’s family said they were announcing with “deep sadness” that the actor “passed away peacefully following a short illness”.

“Dean is best remembered as the longest serving cast member of Channel 4’s groundbreaking Brookside playing the role of Jimmy Corkhill, making Dean a British soap icon.

“To millions he was and very much still is remembered as ‘Jimmy’, to family and friends he was ‘Dino’.”

It continued: “Dean’s family wants to thank Arrowe Park Hospital for their unwavering and consistent support.”

“We ask that you respect their privacy in their time of grief.”

Sullivan was born and educated in Liverpool, and starred in Brookside when the show was at its peak, regularly drawing audiences of eight million.

In 2003, Sullivan won the British Soap Award for outstanding achievement for his role as Jimmy in the Mersey TV soap, having played the role for 17 years.

The Corkhill family, played by (left to right) Claire Sweeney, Dean Sullivan, Sue Jenkins, and George Christopher, from Channel soap Brookside
Image caption,The Corkhill family were played by (left to right) Claire Sweeney, Dean Sullivan, Sue Jenkins and George Christopher

Brookside, the brainchild of Grange Hill creator Phil Redmond, launched in November 1982, with its houses situated in a real cul-de-sac which was part of a housing estate in West Derby, Liverpool.

Sullivan’s character was involved in one of the soap’s most famous storylines.

Jimmy Corkhill and Eddie Banks were seen discovering under a patio the body of Trevor Jordache who had been murdered by his ex-wife Mandy (played by Sandra Maitland) following years of abusive behaviour towards her and their daughter Beth, played by Anna Friel.

The last episode was filmed in September 2003 and aired two months later – and it was Jimmy Corkhill’s face that last filled the screen.

‘Natural actor’

Playwright Jonathan Harvey was among those paying tribute to Sullivan on social media.

“I do love a soap icon, and they didn’t come more iconic than Jimmy Corkhill,” Harvey posted on X/Twitter.

“What terribly sad news. My thoughts are with his many friends and family.”

George Christopher, who played Jimmy Corkhill’s son Little Jimmy in the show, and also played Ziggy in Grange Hill, said: “My role as Jimmy’s troubled son was very demanding, I learnt so much from him in every scene.

“He was a natural actor who excelled just at the right times in Brookside. Brookside wouldn’t have been Brookside without Jimmy, it’s as simple as that. Sincere condolences. Salut Deano.”

Heartbeat actress Tricia Penrose, who appeared in Brookside as a police officer in the late 80s and 90s, and recent filmed Celebrity Antiques Roadtrip with Sullivan, added: “So sorry to hear this terrible news. What a soap actor and a legend of Brookside.”

Actor Dean Sullivan in the pressroom at the 5th Annual British Soap Awards in London on May 10th 2003. Dean won the award for Special Achievement for his 17 year stint as Jimmy Corkhill in Brookside
Image caption,Sullivan won the outstanding achievement prize at the British Soap Awards in 2003 for his role as Jimmy

Jimmy was Brookside’s longest serving character, with Sullivan filming more episodes than any other actor.

Sullivan’s other acting credits included roles in the BBC’s Doctors and ITV’s The Royal,and last year he appeared in a Netflix short film Wings opposite Emmerdale actor Tom Lister.

But he was also a prolific stage actor and director, and ran his own successful theatre production company.

He appeared in critically acclaimed North West theatre tour of one-man monologue Chip in the Sugar by Alan Bennett, and starred opposite Lionel Blair in Stand Up! The Musical.

Sullivan guest-presented ITV’s This Morning and for many years hosted The Sullivan Show, a daily hour-long live radio talk programme on the station Citytalk, which was broadcast in Merseyside for several years.

He also appeared in a string of pantomimes over the years, including productions of Aladdin, Peter Pan, Cinderella and Dick Whittington.

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) attends a question and answer session with host Dean Sullivan, who plays Jimmy Corkhill in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside, on the set of Bev's Bar while on a visit to Liverpool June 1, 2001.
Image caption,Former prime minister Tony Blair met Sullivan during a visit to the set of Brookside in 2001

Earlier this year, Sullivan discussed his diagnosis and encouraged the public to get checked for signs of cancer in an interview with the Liverpool Echo.

He said he went to the doctor because “the strength of my flow when I used to go to the loo to have a pee was reduced”.

“The first time I went to the doctor’s surgery he said we’ll just keep an eye on it and see how you go on. It was a few weeks later, I just knew that wasn’t right.”

He continued: “When I went back I saw a doctor who specialised in prostate treatment. He gave me a quick examination and within two weeks I was at the hospital speaking to the consultant.

“If I’d have listened to the first doctor, it might have been a different story so always trust your gut. 11 times out of 10, you’re right… As with many cancers, if they are caught early, they are treatable.”

Source: BBC

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