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Liverpool: City of Stars - Feature

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

Compiled by Jack Foley

LIVERPOOL is gloriously counter-cultural.

A once booming port that saw the world pass through its docks, Liverpool was fashioned by the working classes. The romanticism of Liverpool formed a community stronger than any other, a community that would produce some of the world’s biggest stars.

In the face of privatisation, Thatcherism and Hillsborough, Liverpool stood strong. The industrious residents of the city refused to be shaken by tragedy; they wanted to be defined by so much more. Kicking and screaming against everything it was told not to do, Liverpool lashed out with beautiful, soulful creativity. Liverpool is a city bursting with culture; a city of stars.

The release of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, on digital download and Blu-ray and DVD now, perfectly demonstrates the juxtaposition between stardom and the working classes in Liverpool through the unlikely love story of real-life 1950s Hollywood starlet, Gloria Grahame (played by Annette Bening) and Liverpool lad and budding actor, Peter Turner (Jamie Bell).

To celebrate the film’s home entertainment release, we take a look at the illustrious stars that transformed Liverpool from a city famous for its industry into a cultural powerhouse.

The Beatles

Who else? A band so inextricably linked with the city, ‘Beatles’ may as well be a synonym for ‘Liverpool’. They are its biggest export. It is perhaps, a little cliché to even talk about the two in the same sentence, let alone mention that the Cavern Club is one of Liverpool’s top destinations, but it is an unavoidable fact that they are one and the same.

What doesn’t get talked about as much is the fact The Beatles had their roots in Skiffle; a working class genre of music that started because people couldn’t afford instruments. They were all from humble beginnings, conquered the world and influenced the world of music forever.

The McCartney dynasty continues to rage on and with it, Liverpool’s pride of its favourite export. Also, special mention to Ringo. No-one ever mentions Ringo.

Steven Gerrard

Even if you’re an Everton supporter, you have to admit he’s iconic. The last bastion of loyalty in football, Gerrard made the painful wait for another league title more bearable with once in a lifetime moments in Istanbul and Cardiff.

He didn’t do it for England, but he did it for Liverpool and became legendary for the city’s biggest club. He continues to give back to the community that made him who he is through training the Liverpool FC youth teams, and is as passionate about where he comes from as the city is proud of him.

Cilla Black

A national treasure. Cilla first found success as a singer in the 1960s alongside The Beatles and Jerry and the Pacemakers, but she is remembered for much, much more. Her broadcasting career saw her rise to become one of the nation’s favourite personalities, with shows like Blind Date and Surprise, Surprise becoming seminal weekend classics that families enjoyed all over the country. The outpouring of pure love when she passed away showed how much she was adored by Liverpool and the British public.

Stephen Graham

Stephen Graham is one of Liverpool’s unsung stars. His charisma has graced both Hollywood and the UK, having starred in blockbusters Snatch and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, to name but two films on his incredibly impressive CV. Instantly recognisable, Graham is emblematic of Liverpool’s thriving performing arts scene that blossomed from the working classes.

His unforgettable appearance as Peter Turner’s brother in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is a fascinating portrayal of family life in a city that was trying to deal with stardom, even though political policy had it on its knees.

John Bishop

Liverpool’s ultimate funny man, John Bishop is one of the UK’s most successful comedians. There’s something about the humour that comes from the North-West that can’t be matched; an acerbic brilliance so relatable people can’t help but fall in love with the person telling the jokes. John Bishop’s cutting observations and down-to-earth demeanour can be attributed to the people of Liverpool’s ability to see things in unique ways and to have the uncanny ability to laugh at self-deprecation. Bishop is a one of a kind comedian who was not only born, but made in Liverpool.

Paul O’Grady

Dark humour, drag and humility, Paul O’Grady is the full package. Though Paul was made famous by his performances as Lily Savage, he is best known for his radio and talk shows. It’s not often that someone can be famous twice for two completely different personalities, but Paul O’Grady made it seem easy. Lily could roast anyone in seconds with witty one-liners, whereas Paul is a trusted confidante; a benevolent relative in whose company you can feel completely relaxed. Symptomatic of the values that Liverpool is famous for, Paul O’Grady’s experiences growing up have etched him into the hearts of millions of Britons.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is available on digital download and Blu-ray and DVD now.