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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 13:08 GMT
Redmond unveils Mersey TV expansion
Brookside, created by Phil Redmond
Redmond was the brains behind soap Brookside
Phil Redmond, the creator of Brookside and Hollyoaks, has denied reports he is to step down as the head of his company, Mersey Television.

Redmond, who is selling some of his shareholding to outside investors, says that the company is expanding and standing down is the last thing on his mind.

Brookside creator Phil Redmond
Phil Redmond created Brookside in 1982
Liverpool's Daily Post newspaper ran a story on Thursday saying the 52-year-old was about to step down from the company.

It quoted him saying he wanted to have retired in three or five years' time, and that he "didn't want to get to the stage where I was 57 or 58 and suddenly announced 'Right, that's it'. "

"It's daft," Redmond told BBC News Online. "We've taken on financial investment. The story is we're expanding and making more plans for the future."

The story is just a bit of hyperbole. I might want to retire in three to five years, but it's not like I'm going to writing my resignation letter right now.

"Alexis [Redmond's wife] and I will still have the main shareholding in the company."

Redmond did not divulge how much outside investment - from venture capital firm LDC - is being brought in, but that the extra money would be channelled into more programmes.
Grange Hill
Zammo and Jackie from Grange Hill, another Redmond creation

Redmond has been running the company for 20 years with his wife Alexis, and created Brookside and Hollyoaks for Channel 4. Before setting up Mersey Television he created the school soap Grange Hill for the BBC.

The children's show, now in its 25th season, was recently brought into the Mersey TV fold.

"We've got a three-season contract with the BBC and we're just finishing the first series, which will be on screens next year," Redmond says.

Mersey television recently bought the listed house Tirley Garth in Cheshire to use for TV shoots, conferences and training.

It has been in conflict with Channel 4 over the uncertain future of Brookside, which has been cut from five days a week to weekend episodes only.

Channel 4, however, wants to commission an extra weekly episode of the 16-24 soap Hollyoaks, bring it up to five episodes a week.

Hollyoaks
Channel 4 wants Hollyoaks five times a week

Redmond believes the Hollyoaks formula - aiming a soap at a narrower audience - are the future for the company.

"Brookside was the last of the great soaps that tried to attract everybody.

"We're looking at soap for the over-50s, called What Next, and we're looking at another soaps called 20002.

"That's going to be aimed at the 20-something who've been watching Hollyoaks but are now at the scary stage of their life where they're looking at buying their first house."

Mersey Television is the biggest independent drama producer in the country and has some 300 staff.

See also:

18 Oct 02 | England
10 Oct 02 | Entertainment
10 Oct 02 | Entertainment
26 Feb 02 | Entertainment
08 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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