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Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - North West: Monday February 20, 2006

The Street - new TV drama

Terraced houses
The new 'street' - compelling drama from Jimmy McGovern

One of Liverpool's top drama writers is Jimmy McGovern.

He's well known for hard-hitting dramas like Hillsborough, Cracker and the Lakes.

McGovern's work is about to hit our screens again with a new series which is currently being filmed in Manchester.

Inside Out's Jacey Normand went behind the scenes of The Street to find out what it's about.

Love stories

The Street is a major new drama series starring Jim Broadbent, Jane Horrocks, Sue Johnston and Timothy Spall.

Set in the North of England, each episode concentrates on a different house in a Manchester street.

Any new Jimmy McGovern series is a big event and this one is no exception.

Love is the uniting theme in The Street - each story in the series is linked by a sense of community and shared experiences.

Love is something universal which everyone can relate according to McGovern.

"You can walk down any street... and find stories like this," he says.

Top talent

The Street has attracted top names to film in Manchester.

The opening episode features Jane Horrocks as Angela Quinn, a mother of three, whose 15-year marriage to builder Arthur (Daniel Ryan) is growing stale.

Jane Horrocks
Jane Horrocks - one of The Street's stars

An affair with her neighbour provides much-needed excitement – until Angela's world is turned upside down by events which leave her locked in warfare with her lover.

In episode two, Stan (Jim Broadbent) finds himself forced out of his beloved work just before his 65th birthday.

To the despair of his wife Brenda (Sue Johnston), he turns to contemplating of the meaning of life, and decides he is surplus to requirements – until in a bittersweet tragedy next door offers him a glimmer of hope for the future.

The cast also includes Timothy Spall as taxi-driver Eddie; Neil Dudgeon as teacher, Brian; and Christine Bottomley as sparky Yvonne.

Northern stars

As with many of Jimmy McGovern's dramas there's a strong cast of northern actors including hot new talent Jody Latham, one of the stars of Shameless.

Cast of The Street
Streets ahead - northern drama with bite

"I play Billy - an up and coming footballer who gets side-tracked by a friend," says Latham.

David Schofield plays Billy's blind dad - although he's better known as Senator Falco in Gladiator:

"It's been quite tricky playing a blind man… acting is usually all in the eyes."

Producer Ken Horne says he was gripped when he first read McGovern's scripts:

"I've worked with him before on Brookie. His were the scripts that we all wanted to work on - he hasn't changed. He's great."

Up your street

Jimmy McGovern is one of British television's most prolific and influential writing talents.

He was born in 1949 into a working class Catholic family.

The Lakes TV still
The Lakes - McGovern's last major drama for BBC One

McGovern grew up in Greenside, a poor but close-knit community in Liverpool.

But despite his fame, he's stayed in the north, most of his dramas are set here and many of the actors in his dramas are local:

"I see no point in taking my work to London to provide work for Londoners…

"I wanted to set the street in Kensington, Liverpool but couldn't because they are sensitive to a bad image."

McGovern has not been afraid to tackle dramas about the sometimes negative image of Liverpool head on, previously writing about the dockers' strike, and the relationship with the press after the Hillsborough disaster:

"The more they give it a bad image the more I love Liverpool," he says.

All you need is love

The stories in The Street are sad and funny, tragic and uplifting, but ultimately they are all about love.

The Street is broadcast on BBC One in Spring 2006.

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Young carers

Edward Briggs in kitchen
Caring for his family - Edward Briggs

Inside Out looks at the lives of young carers in the North West of England.

We look at two young carers and how caring for parents and siblings has affected their lives.

Growing up fast

Most teenagers expect a lie-in on a morning, but for most young carers, the day starts early.

It's seven o'clock and 13-year-old Edward Briggs is making breakfast.

Homework and socialising with his friends have to be fitted in around Edward's role as a young carer.

Edward's younger brother Thomas has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Aspergers Syndrome which means he needs looking after all the time.

Edward and his mum Hazel share the caring role. He takes on a lot of his mum's jobs so she can concentrate on Thomas' needs.

He cooks, cleans, helps with the laundry, and supervises his brother when his mum is doing other jobs.

"We work like a tag team," says Hazel.

There's just the two of them to do all the work. The boys' father left when Edward was two and Thomas was nine months.

Edward has had to grow up fast.

Taking a break

Edward is by no means alone.

YOUNG CARERS

A young carer is defined as a child or young person under the age of 18 carrying out significant caring tasks and assuming a level of responsibility for another person, which would normally be taken by an adult.

A questionnaire of 150 young carers across the UK found 82% said their school did not make any allowances for their caring responsibilities.

Forty per cent of carers said they had problems getting their homework in on time.

The survey found 21 per cent of young carers had trouble getting to school because of transport issues.

A national survey in 2004 found that 27% of all young carers of secondary school age experience some problems at school.

Anecdotal evidence suggests many young carers miss days off school to care for someone, can fall asleep in class, experience bullying and feel isolated from their peers.

Source: The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

According to The Princess Royal Trust for Carers there are around six million carers in the UK and around 75,000 of them are aged under 18.

Despite of the work the Trust does in offering carers practical and emotional support, it fully admits that it is only scratching the surface.

It's estimated that there are 22,920 youngsters in the North West coping with the extra responsibility of caring for someone.

Carole Cochrane, from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers says, "I think the biggest thing is the isolation."

It's hard on the young carers as they can lose out on their childhood in many ways.

School is the one place Edward can be a normal 13-year-old boy - it gives him a break from caring.

Edward is often the only one who can calm his brother down.

When they were both in the same school, it had a big effect on Edward's school life as he would be called from his own class to deal with his brother.

Help at hand

If things get too much for young carers, there is help at hand.

Children at Edward's school can make an appointment to see the school mentor to chat through any difficulties or concerns.

Edward Briggs
Edward Briggs juggles homework and caring at home

It's also important for carers like Edward to get a break.

We join Edward at a bowling session organised by Carers Link at Accrington Superbowl, a group that provides support and offers the children a chance to let off steam and forget their responsibilities at home.

For many it's the only chance for them to relax and wind down.

It's also a chance for an informal chat about how things are going at home.

"I can talk to them about anything," says Edward who believes that activities like this have helped to calm him down.

Home work

Stuart Cash is now an adult, but he spent much of his childhood as a carer.

The Cash family
Working as a team - the Cash family

He helped his dad look after his mum Sue, who has MS, from an early age.

Stuart was given the freedom to develop his own life but it's not been without its difficulties.

Ian and Sue Cash were always conscious that their son Stuart needed a life away from being a carer.

Ian has been Sue's full-time carer for Sue for 27 years which has brought its own financial and emotional pressures.

He is now Chair of the West Lancashire Carers Centre, which helps other carers with support and advice.

A life of their own

Although things have improved in recent years for carers as a result of legislation like the Equal Opportunities Act of 2004, there is still room for improvement.

Many carers feel they are a silent majority sacrificing their own careers and lives to help loved ones who otherwise could cost the tax payer a fortune because they would need round the clock hospital or respite care.

One of the biggest difficulties facing Edward and all young carers is developing a life of their own - away from the home.

His mum Hazel is hoping that the family will eventually get support from social services to ease the burden on her and the son she's come to rely on.

Hazel says that Edward is a fantastic help - she doesn't know where she would be without him.

"He's my rock... I'm proud of him," she says emotionally.

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Hill farmers

Sheep and farmer
Hill farming in the Peak District - female shepherds at work

The Peak District is one of the most popular national parks in the world, but what most visitors don't realise is that a lot of it has been shaped by centuries of hill farming.

Inside Out gets an insight into the world of two sisters who farm high above Ladybower Reservoir.

They're two of only a handful of female shepherds in Britain and are proud to carry on the family tradition.

Family tradition

For Kath Birkinshaw and her widowed sister Andrea Jolley, hill farming has been in their blood for generations.

Their great grandfather farmed the land before them.

Quad stuck in mud
Tough job - two farming sisters battle the mud and elements

They are tenant farmers for the National Trust rearing sheep and cattle on 140 acres.

But now it's becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet.

A recent report showed some farm incomes have declined by up to 75 per cent.

Inside Out follows them through a harsh winter, all the time surrounded by beautiful scenery.

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