BAFTA award-winning writer Alan Bleasdale's ground-breaking television series Boys from the Blckstuff is currently being repeated on BBC 4. Now in a real coup for Merseyside arts it will be adapted for Liverpool's Royal Court stage next year.

Globe theatre critic Peter Grant went on location 40 years ago to watch the original series being made and celebrates its timeless legacy.

I recall the BBC cameras in and around Liverpool back in the early 80s - the excitement of a major five-parter being made not far from where I was born.

A gritty social drama which started life as a Play for Today in 1978 called The Black Stuff was now going to be a no-holds-barred look at life in Thatcher's Britain seen through diverse working class men and women.

Wirral Globe:

Poster for 'Boys from the blackstuff'

Boys from the Blackstuff, which aired in 1982, was quickly repeated. It had made its mark. The video later became a best seller.

I recall the on-location filming and seeing one striking character standing out - a desperate man in a black overcoat followed by his children searching for a break in his life screaming: "Gizza Job."

It became one of the key phrases of all time. And I knew that actor Bernard Hill had remarkably fleshed out this complex character who still remains one of TV most enduring, powerful creations.

Over the next weeks of filming I interviewed Julie Walters and spoke to Alan Bleasdale. I knew then I was watching something unique unfold - it was special.

It was history being made.

Now history is being revisited with the welcome news that it is being adapted for the stage here in its home town and adapted by James Graham, the multi-award winning screnewriter who created the recent BBC hit Sherwood.

Wirral Globe:

Alan Bleasdale and James Graham. Picture: Jason Roberts Photography

Everyone who is on board with the project is thrilled and excited.

Alan Bleasdale himself says: "Almost all of my stage plays are set in one location and using real time.

"The one attempt I made to use multiple characters and multiple sets and the passage of time was a disaster."

Wirral Globe:

Alan Bleasdale and James Graham. Picture: Jason Roberts Photography

Alan says the idea of the stage version of the TV series was suggested with James as the writer and he gave it the green light.

The 76-year-old former teacher stresses that while he is pleased his mould-breaking work is being revived there is sadness surrounding it.

He sighs: "In the forty years since I wrote The Boys from the Blackstuff we might have hoped that things would get better. But they haven't. Have they?”

Nottingham-born James says it is more than a labour of love. Alan was and remains an inspiration to him.

He says: "Alan is one of the reasons I became a writer. Watching his work as I was growing up, hearing those voices and seeing those worlds, meant a lot to someone from my background."

James is not alone is saying the drama is: "heartbreaking, hilarious and a masterpiece."

Kevin Fearon, executive producer, Liverpool’s Royal Court agrees and told the Globe how it has sparked everyone's imagination all over again.

"For a producing theatre in Liverpool it doesn’t get any bigger or better than this.

"To be able to bring together two of the country’s finest writers on such an important piece of drama is a hugely exciting opportunity for us.

"Everyone in the building is excited about this incredible show and our job now is to make it something we can all be proud of."

Now in 2002 the word at the box office is sure to be 'Gizza ticket . . .'

On sale now ...

Alan Bleasdale’s Boys from the blackstuff is at the Royal Court from September 15 to October 28 2023.

Performances schedule to be announced

Tickets are on sale now from boxoffice@liverpoolsroyalcourt.com , 0151 709 4321 or https://liverpoolsroyalcourt.court