Life After Soap – Louis Emerick

As Mick Johnson in ‘Brookside’, Louis Emerick added wit and humour to the often bleak soap and became one of its most loved and recognisable characters.  Mick first appeared  as a taxi driver friend of Terry Sullivan in 1989 and ended up staying on the close for 12 years.

His memorable storylines include sticking up for his son Leo when he was being bullied by Tinhead, getting addicted to steroids and after losing his taxi licence, starting a pizza parlour which is then victim of racist attacks.

Our soap expert Jon Horsley caught up with the actor…

So can you remember how you got the role?
It came at the best time for me. Things were really tough, my phone had been cut off  'cause we couldn't pay the bill and I was working part-time in an off-licence. Rita, the old lady across the road from me, was so kind that she offered to pay the bill for me. But instead, I asked her if my agent could have her number to call me if there was any work .So it was Rita who passed on the message that I'd got the job. It's all down to Rita. 

And can you remember your first day?

Yes! It was a scene with Terry where they were cabbies who had to pick up a dead body. Mick knew it was a corpse but Terry didn't so he sent Terry on in advance. I remember the corpse we had to pick up – the actor, Arthur, I think his name was, was shouted at by the director for having his eyes open. Poor bloke. But for me it was so exciting.

Have you got a favourite moment from making the show?
Gosh, there's just so many to choose from. It'd almost certainly be something involving Michael Starke, who played Sinbad. He is just the most naturally funny person I've ever met. He's a brilliant mimic, he had my voice down straight away. There was one night shoot when Mick and Sinbad were waiting for Barry Grant and it began with a shot of two shadows walking and Michael Starke voicing the shadows, you know. But there are so many.

What did you learn from the show?
It was pure gold in those terms. The technical aspects were amazing. It was on a purpose built set, with all the cameras, so in many ways it was like a movie. A lot of the crew have gone on to work in films, because their work was so impressive.  I had an amazing variety of storylines too. I got the opportunity to play the full range of emotions, so it was just such a great job.

And afterwards, you never had trouble finding work?
No, not at all. I went straight out of it in 2001 and into an episode of ‘Cold Feet’. Then there was the show ‘Merseybeat’, which they were filming in Liverpool, so that was nice. Then an episode of ‘Doctors’ that got nominated for an award and ‘Casualty’ too. That was particularly nice because I was working again with Suzanne Packer, who played my wife on ‘Brookie’. She's great and we have a laugh.

You never got typecast then?
I think people have moved on a bit now. They're used to it. When they see Michelle Collins turn up in ‘Coronation Street’, they don't see her as someone from ‘EastEnders’ so much. Particularly if they like your work, you're okay.

And do you still see the rest of the cast?
Yes, Liverpool's a small city. We all got together for the 30th anniversary last year and had a few drinks. I'm going to see Michael Starke, who is in ‘Sister Act’, when that comes up to the Liverpool Empire. We all get on really well, there's no way we couldn't really.

And what is going on now?
Well, I'm actually doing some corporate work for a friend, doing some role-play, which is quite fun. Then I've got a play called ‘Soap Opera’ coming out, which is a whodunnit farce that's almost signed off.

Well good luck with it. It's been a real pleasure.
Thanks a lot, and good bye.