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Jimmy's back with a cracke; ECHO TV critic Paddy Shennan recalls some of Jimmy McGovern's greatest TV hits and previews what he thinks will be his next: the new, six-part BBC1 drama The Street...

Byline: Paddy Shennan

HE'S back and doing what he does best - making a drama out of the lives of so-called ordinary people.

As any decent journalism lecturer will tell his or her students, there is a story behind every front door. And this is the premise for Jimmy McGovern's new BBC1 drama series.

When I met Jimmy in the autumn to talk about his forthcoming projects, he was happy enough to chat about the forthcoming, one-off return of Cracker on ITV1 - but he was much more excited about his new baby: The Street.

And rightly so because, having seen the first two episodes, I reckon the man who also brought us the likes of Sunday, Dockers and The Lakes, and summed up the injustice of Hillsborough in his TV drama-documentary of the same name, has triumphed again.

Starring Jane Horrocks, Timothy Spall, Jim Broadbent and Sue Johnston, The (terraced) Street is set in Manchester and each week the focus is on one particular household.

For example, although the likes of Spall and Broadbent are seen briefly in the opening episode, centre stage is initially taken by Horrocks, together with Shaun Dooley, Liz White (who played WPC Annie Cartwright in BBC1 drama Life On Mars) and Daniel Ryan.

Jimmy throws everything into a powerful, passionate and engrossing story, including sex, lies, family tensions and torment, guilt, revenge ... and chocolate.

Jane Horrocks plays Angela Quinn, a mother-of-three whose 15-year marriage to builder Arthur (Daniel Ryan) is growing stale. An affair with a neighbour provides much-needed excitement - until her world is turned upside down.

Former ECHO columnist Jimmy says: "Lives and loves from the back streets are the stories I am trying to tell. Behind every door in every street there's a story.

"There may be poverty, crime, drugs and violence, but there's also laughter and love. And that's what I'm doing - telling love stories."

The first two episodes were written by Jimmy and the remaining four by other Liverpool-born writers: James Quirk, Arthur Ellison, Marc Pye and Alan Field.

The Street is different from many other programmes which claim to share the same genre, mainly because it isn't bland and predictable and actually has some drama in it.

Let us prepare ourselves, then, for more McGovern tributes, to add to a long list.

Robbie Coltrane, famously, said he'd only film another Cracker, in which he plays psychologist Fitz, if Jimmy wrote it, while Christopher Eccles-ton, who appeared in Cracker, Hillsborough and Sunday, says: "I've worked with Jimmy McGovern a lot and I always feel he writes with his heart and his soul."

Ricky Tomlinson, meanwhile, for whom Jimmy has written in the likes of Brookside, Cracker, Hillsborough and Dockers, says: "Jimmy's writing is full of passion. His honesty is tremendous and he's not worried about falling out with people.

"He's got integrity and that's not very often found in our industry."

THE Street, from next Thursday, BBC1, 9pm.


ROBBIE COLTRANE: One-off return as Cracker' STORYTELLER: Jimmy McGovern is excited about The Street, which is set in the back streets of Manchester' THE STREET: The cast of Jimmy McGovern's new series (above )' his dramas Sunday (far left) and Hillsborough (left)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 8, 2006
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