'didn't cope' | 

Brookside legend Michael Starke recalls shooting in Ireland and being plied with Guinness

Once known as Brookside’s Sinbad, Michael Starke is set to tread the boards in Dublin
Michael Starke stars as Old Joe opposite Chelsea Halfpenny in Waitress

Michael Starke stars as Old Joe opposite Chelsea Halfpenny in Waitress

Michael Starke as Sinbad in Brookside

Michael Starke as Sinbad in Brookside

Eddie Rowley

FORMER Brookside legend Michael Starke, aka Sinbad, recalls shooting scenes in Ireland for the TV soap and being plied with Guinness by young guys seeking an introduction to his stunning co-star Anna Friel.

Starke and several of the cast filmed scenes in Ireland during the Channel 4 show’s patio murder storyline in the 1990s.

Now starring in the stage musical Waitress — which is on its way to Ireland — Starke tells Magazine+ about his time in Ireland.

Brookie was massive in Ireland, so when we did the famous ‘body under the patio’ storyline the family at the centre of it did a flit to Ireland. We were filming over there and travelling around in a bus with all the camera equipment.

Michael Starke as Sinbad in Brookside

Michael Starke as Sinbad in Brookside

“It was just great fun. We’d be in a bar and there’d be young lads coming up to me going, ‘I’ll get you a pint of Guinness if you introduce me to Anna Friel.’

“So the Guinness was on the go and I couldn’t drink most of it, to be honest. But Anna was very nice about it. Everybody wanted to meet her because she was becoming huge.”

Liverpool-born Starke, who has Irish connections, admits that the stardom he experienced at the height of his Brookside fame was often difficult to cope with.

“To be honest, I didn’t cope very well with it,” Michael says. “I’m a Liverpool lad from the area and when I was out and about with my kids you couldn’t move for a time (because of the attention). Sometimes it got a little bit uncomfortable and I didn’t always deal with it so well.

“You were constantly aware that people were looking at you or coming over. We didn’t have any camera phones back in the day, which I think would have been easier because back then you had people looking for a pen and a piece of paper to get an autograph and it took longer.

“I’m a lot better now, but then nobody recognises me anymore and it’s great. I have my beard in the show and people think I’m Colonel Sanders. It’s just KFC fans I have to worry about now…and there’s plenty of them! I’m enjoying it.”

Michael left Brookside in 2000 as he felt he’d come to the end of the road with his character. “I wanted to get a bit more fun back into the character and Phil Redmond (the show’s creator) said something to me that kind of scared me in a way and kind of made up my mind for me. He said that with everything that Sinbad has been through he’s now kind of become the conscience of the programme, so he was going to become more serious.

“I decided to leave and I’ve been very lucky, I’ve worked almost constantly since .

“It also gave me the chance to do musical theatre, which I love. It’s why I wanted to become an actor in the first place; I wanted to do stage work and I wanted to sing because I do sing, which not many people know.

“After 40 years in the business, people who come to see the show say: ‘Oh, I didn’t know you could sing!’ Most actors have at least three or four strings to their bow.”

The much-loved performer says he is revelling in his new role as wise old owl Joe in hit musical Waitress, which tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage.

  • Waitress runs at Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy Theatre from June 7 to 18 inclusive.


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