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Dean Sullivan as Jimmy Corkhill.
|Portrayed by||Dean Sullivan|
|First appearance||24 February 1986|
|Last appearance||4 November 2003|
|Created by||Phil Redmond|
|Brookside: The Lost Weekend|
James Corkhill is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera Brookside, played by Dean Sullivan. He joined the series in 1986. Originally arriving on a recurring basis appearing alongside his on-screen brother, Billy (John McArdle), he then became a regular cast member, featuring in many big storylines, and remaining in the show until its demise 17 years later. He is also cited as one of the show's most popular characters, and was the longest-featured character. Jimmy has often been cited as a lovable rogue by the media.
Jimmy is played by actor Dean Sullivan. He later became the longest-serving cast member in the serial's history. Sullivan was initially only contracted to appear in six episodes as a recurring character, but due to his popularity he was taken on full-time and remained for seventeen years. When the serial was axed, Sullivan stated he felt bereaved and it was like losing an old friend.
Jimmy first appeared in Brookside when brother Billy had moved in and was in the process of building the extension to No.10. His first scene in the close featured Billy and Paul Collins (Jim Wiggins), another close resident, who was the architect responsible for designing the extension.
Jimmy came and went for a couple of years as a sporadic character while the Corkhill family were introduced. His first big storyline involved an insurance 'job' on Billy's house. For a year or so, Billy had been in dire financial straits, and Jimmy talked him into what he thought was a surefire winner. So on a day when Billy's son Rod (Jason Hope) graduated from Police college, Jimmy did the insurance job (in daylight) - and totally trashed the Collins' house in the process for good measure, to make it look a bit more convincing to the police and the insurance company. However, once Billy returned from the graduation later that day, he was mortified at the amount of damage Jimmy had done to his house, and for a while it put a strain on their relationship.
In the early-to-mid 1990s, Jimmy became an integral part of the storylines. First he suffered from a drug addiction, which nearly destroyed his marriage to Jackie (Sue Jenkins). He had numerous jobs, including a barman and bouncer at "Bar Brookie", working for Mick Johnson (Louis Emerick) in his pizza takeaway, a cleaner in a school, and ultimately a history teacher at his local school. In November 1993, Jimmy's contacts were starting to get arrested and he decided to flee the close. When driving, he took a hit of cocaine to steady his nerves; however, this seriously affected his driving, and he caused neighbour Frank Rogers (Peter Christian) to swerve off a road and crash. Frank, who had just married Lyn Matthews (Sharon Power), was badly injured, and died just after arriving at the hospital. Jimmy had driven some of the relatives to hospital, and when they arrived he learnt that Frank had just died and that Tony Dixon (Mark Lennock) was in a serious condition.
Within a month of the crash, Tony was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, and doctors said that he was unlikely ever to regain consciousness, but his father Ron (Vince Earl) was determined to help him recover. Jimmy helped out with fundraising to help the Dixon family find a cure, but Tony died in February 1994. At the request of Ron, Jimmy was a pallbearer at Tony's funeral, but finally cracked under guilt at the graveside and confessed that he had caused the crash.
Jimmy's drug problem had worsened as he was racked with guilt over the crash, and when Jackie caught him taking drugs in their bathroom just before Christmas 1993, he confessed to her that he had caused the crash and that drugs were his way of coping with the guilt. However, she didn't tell anybody else about his confession, and even tried to talk Jimmy into believing that the crash wasn't all his fault, as it had already been revealed that Frank had been over the drink-drive limit when the crash happened.
A short time after, his son "Little Jimmy" (George Christopher) came out of prison and resumed the heroin habit which had helped land him behind bars. He was finally murdered by drug dealers in November 1996. Jimmy started taking ecstasy tablets in 1994, and actor Dean Sullivan reportedly suggested the storyline should culminate with Jimmy dying, in order to warn young viewers about the dangers of taking drugs.
In January 1995, Jimmy and Eddie Banks (Paul Broughton) found the body of Trevor Jordache (Bryan Murray). He had been killed two years earlier by his wife Mandy (Sandra Maitland) and daughter Beth (Anna Friel), after years of physical and psychological abuse, as well as rape. They then buried him under the patio. The storyline was called 'The Body Under The Patio' plot. Incidentally, the storyline that led up to it, which involved an alcoholic, abusive and incestuous father (Trevor Jordache), was one of Brookside's most moving storylines (the "Body Under the Patio" discovery scene remains Brookside's most well-known, and is rated as one of the most memorable in UK soap history).
1995 also saw Jimmy turn up to the D-Day commemorations dressed in a Gestapo uniform, which did not go down well in the close. He was also accompanied on frequent occasions during 1995 with his dog, a pitbull called Cracker. Jimmy soon found himself caught up in the world of drugs again, but this time he was dealing them instead of taking them, allowing him to make a small fortune. With the money, he was able to buy 10 Brookside Close and, after years of hanging around, finally moved into the neighbourhood. However, things soon soured when rival dealers targeted the house in a drive-by shooting, which killed Jackie's cat, and Jimmy decided to get out of the game before anyone got hurt. Jimmy's son-in-law (and partner in crime) Gary Stanlow (Andrew Fillis) was ordered to dispose of the remaining drugs, but Gary chose instead to sell one final stash to one of Jimmy's regular customers, Australian soap star Shane Cochrane (who was in a relationship with Jacqui Dixon (Alexandra Fletcher)). Jimmy was horrified when Gary admitted what he had done, as the heroin was uncut, and tried desperately to reach Shane in time, but was just too late to stop him fatally overdosing.
Tragedy struck the Corkhills in November 1996 when Little Jimmy was murdered by drug dealers. There was a brief respite for Jimmy and Jackie in July 1997 when, both in their forties, they had a third child, William. More bad news was to come for Corkhill, as he was eventually rumbled at his job at the school for falsifying certificates, for which he had enlisted the help of neighbour Danny Simpson (Andrew Butler). After a few months in the job, wife Jackie became sick of the pretence of it all, mainly because Jimmy was really starting to believe his own hype. She spilled the beans at a dinner with two of his fellow teacher colleagues, who took a dim view. Jimmy was fired soon after. Following this, he developed manic depression (bipolar disorder) and began experiencing hallucinations and delusions. He then got up one morning, convinced he was still a teacher, and arrived at the school to teach a lesson clad in odd shoes. This culminated in him locking his pupils in his classroom, where he shook tables and starting ranting and screaming. A boy in his class protested about this and called him a "weirdo". This led to the boy having a bloody nose as Corkhill grabbed him and smacked his face on a table. Consumed with guilt, he ran out of the class and went up to the roof, where he was ready to commit suicide. His daughter Lindsey Corkhill ([Claire Sweeney]) and neighbour Ray Hilton ([Kenneth Cope]) heard about this and tried to convince him not to kill himself. The police were also informed and rushed to the scene; two policemen went up to the roof, and were standing behind Corkhill, who jumped off the roof, but was saved just in time by one of the policemen. After this, he was advised to go to his GP and he was put on anti-depressants.
In 2001, his marriage to Jackie ended in separation after many years. After the siege, neighbour Nikki Shadwick (Suzanne Collins) began to see Jimmy as a father figure, but her feelings turned to infatuation, and the two slept together in 2002.
Jimmy Corkhill remained in the series until its final episode in November 2003. He starred in the show's final scenes, which included him painting "Game Over" on his house and adding a "D" to the street-sign so it read "Brookside Closed." He then went to live with his son-in-law Barry Grant (Paul Usher) and daughter in their mansion in Blaydon, Tyne and Wear. The final scene of Brookside saw Jimmy winking at the camera, thus breaking the fourth wall.
In 2000, Jimmy and Jackie Corkhill received the best on-screen partnership award at the British Soap Awards. He was then nominated in the category of "Best Actor" at the 2002 award ceremony. In 2003 Dean Sullivan received the Special Achievement Award at the British Soap Awards for his portrayal of the character. The character was selected as one of the "top 100 British soap characters" by industry experts for a poll to be run by What's on TV, with readers able to vote for their favourite character to discover "Who is Soap's greatest Legend?". Virgin Media included Jimmy in their "80's finest" segment and stated: "Jimmy Corkhill arrived on Brookside Close as a wheeler-dealer, but over his 17 years on the show he also showed us the horrors of drugs, and showcased a lot of scary-faced mental illness acting." Newspaper The Press branded him as one of the serial's most popular characters. Jimmy became noted for wearing a trademark denim shirt; the shirt was won in a competition after the serial stopped airing. Rachel Murphy of the Daily Mirror branded Jimmy a "lovable nutter" and also stated: "Jimmy has ducked and dived through a hilarious and heart-breaking catalogue of crime, drug abuse, mental illness and tragedy". In 2004 Northwest Regional Development Agency branded Jimmy a "lovable rogue" type, a label which Click Liverpool also attributed to the character. In addition, the BBC have stated he is a "much-loved rogue".
The Northern Echo praised the character, stating: "In criminal and activist Jimmy Corkhill, Dean Sullivan has created one of the soap's most memorable characters. He remains one of the few links with the Brookie heyday when it was regularly in the news. After nearly 20 years, he's closely identified by the public with the character, which was originally only scheduled to appear in six episodes."
In popular culture
- Murphy, Rachel (21 June 2003). "Interview: Dean Sullivan - Dean's soap sorrow". Daily Mirror. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- "Breaking up Close companions". The Northern Echo. (Newsquest). 16 June 2003. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
- "Brookside homes to be auctioned". bbc.co.uk. (BBC). 16 December 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
- "Corkhill closes in". The Sun. (News International). 11 December 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
- Metro.co.uk, Amy Duncan for (2016-01-28). "Where are the stars of Brookside now and who could return?". Metro. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
- "Two million watch Brookside's end". BBC. 5 November 2003. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- "EastEnders cleans up soap awards". BBC. 27 May 2000. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- Welsh, James (16 May 2002). "British Soap Awards 2002: Nominations". Digital Spy. (Hachette Filipacchi UK). Archived from the original on 9 December 2013. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- "Winners of the Soap Awards". CBBC. (BBC). 11 May 2003. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- "Who is Soaps' Greatest Legend?". What's on TV. IPC Media. Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
- "Whatever happened to the stars of 80s TV? - Jimmy Corkhill (Brookside)". Virginmedia.com. (Virgin Media Inc.). Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- "Brookie bond: Five characters and one fatal fall... but who killed Susannah?". The Press. (Newsquest). 31 October 2000. Retrieved 2 August 2010.[permanent dead link]
- "Win Jimmy Corkhill's denim shirt". The Guardian. (Guardian Media Group). 3 November 2003. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- Faragher, Emma (25 March 2004). "Dean Sullivan pays tribute to businesses of the region". Northwest Regional Development Agency. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
- Kennedy, Paul (16 July 2010). "Brookside stars back campaign for a Best of Brookie DVD". Click Liverpool. (Click Creative). Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
- Reeves, Vic (2007). Shooting Stars - Brookside (FLV) (Television production). Channel 4. Retrieved 2 August 2010.