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The Brookie boys who shone at soap awards show; TONIGHT the nation will see Brookside's finest being presented with British SoapAwards.RachaelTinniswood talks to winners DeanSullivanandJackMcMullen.

Byline: Rachael Tinniswood

DEAN SULLIVAN - SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD DEAN Sullivan has certainly had some story lines to deal with over the years. As the love able Jimmy Corkhill he's had marital breakups,bipolar manic depression and had to contend with drug addiction into the bargain.

Over the past 18 years former teacher Dean has tackled each issue with gusto. Yet he still found it hard to believe his pal Sue Johnston was talking about him when she presented him with the British Soap Awards' Special Achievement Award.

``I wasn't expecting it,'' he admits. ``A few weeks before the awards I had spoken to Sue who asked me if I was going to the a wards. When she told me she was going too, I told her she would probably be asked to present something. Little did I know that she had already been told she would be presenting something to me.''

The public plea that Dean made that night to C4 bosses not to pull the plug on Brookie was much reported - but he says it had not been planned.

``I didn't say anything like that at the ceremony. It was only afterwards when they took me off and I went to do the press interviews.

``The press wanted me to say something that would give them their headlines so I said it would be mad to axe Brookside. I don't know what's going tohappen.''

One of the Close's most controversial characters, Jimmy has prompted scores of viewers to write to him over the years.

As a result,Dean has become involved with eight charities including the Roy Castle Foundation - and values the work that he does and the story lines which allow him to tackle sensitive issues.

``I feel as though I have done something really worthwhile, as opposed to just entertaining people,''he says.

``At the end of the day,Brookside's strength is that we deal with issues which affect people.''

And what does Dean think of up and -coming talent Jack McMullan?

``What an excellent little actor,'' he responds. ``He is very talented and I am sure he will go a long, long way in this business if he sticks with it.

``The only piece of advice I would give him is what I would say to anyone: Make sure you know your lines, hit your mark, keep your head down and your mouth shut.''

IT is the soap that is constantly rumoured to be being axed.

Yet the life and times of Brookside Close are far from being over if the British Soap Awards, to be screened tonight, is anything to go by.

The programme's stars beat off stiff competition from the likes of EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, to secure three of the most coveted awards in British soap - The Special Achievement Award, Best On-Screen Partnership,and Best Newcomer.

Here, Dean Sullivan and Jack McMullen explain just what winning means to them.

JACK MCMULLEN: BEST NEWCOMERIN his tracksu it and trainers,Jack McMullen looked just like any other 12-year- old as he played football in the street.

But unbelievably, just the night before, he had waltzed off with one of the most prestigious awards in British soap - Best Newcomer - and Best On-Screen Partnership with Sarah White who plays his screen mum Bev.

As excited as he was to receive the award,Jack, who plays Josh McLoughlin in the soap,had just two things he wanted to do the day after his big win - go and see his nan, and play football with his mates.

``I couldn't believe it when I won the award,'' he says. ``I mean, I knew I had a good chance,but I really didn't think I'dactually win it.''

Jack started acting classes at the age of six, when his dad decided he needed something positive to channel his creative energy into.

Says dad,Kevin,a prison officer: ``When he was a lad he always loved dressing up in Spider-Man or Superman costumes. He couldn't understand why we wouldn't let him try and fly off the bunk beds.''

And so Jack embarked on acting classes at Lindsay Casting and Drama - run, co-incidentally,by Nikki Lindsay, sister of Rachael, who plays Brookside's Sammy Rogers.

After auditioning unsuccessfully for the part of Anthony, Jack eventually won the part of Josh two years ago - and has never looked back.

Modest enough to admit that he partly owes his win to the striking story lines given to him by the Brookside scriptwriters, Jack says: ``The writers have given me some great stuff.

``I mostly liked the story lines where I went mad and when I got run over - they were good to do.''

His win - which follows Brookside's Raymond Quinn's win last year, is an amazing achievement considering Jack is still in full time education at Holy Family high school in Thornton.

``It is a nightmare fitting it all in,''he admits,``but as long as I am not off too much the teachers are okay about it.''

So what reaction did he get from his fellow pupils when they realised they had a celebrity among them?

``It was a big surprise for everyone at first,''he admits,``but they are okay now. People will come up and ask me if I'mon the TV and my friends just start laughing.''

And of the future,Jack says: ``I would like to carry on at school for a while and then go into acting and do a few films - I would really like to be James Bond.''

And wouldn't any 12-year-old?

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HARD-HITTING:Jimmy and long-suffering wifeJacqui
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 14, 2003
Words:930
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