Like many Merseysiders, our opinion of Brookside was mixed. On one hand, it wasn’t a particularly favourable portrayal of this city’s people. On the other, it was a genuinely groundbreaking, occasionally hilarious drama that felt fresh and thrilling in a world of cuddly northern Emmerdale ‘n’ Corrie pint o’ bitter nonsense. (Bonus fact: in a pub haze prior to our launch, we nearly considered calling SevenStreets ‘Corkhill’ instead – Ed).
We were shocked to hear this week that Vince Earl, the gent best known for portraying the miserable Ron Dixon, was in critical condition. Heck, even his illness sounds like the stuff of soap: he has the rare Goodpasture’s Syndrome, which affects only one in two million people and attacks the auto-immune system.
It sounds like he’s doing OK though, and of course our best wishes go out to him. It got us thinking about Brookside and Ron’s storylines: not a single one of them contained a bright light or happiness of any kind. All were shrouded in misery, with Ron living only to be a burden on people’s lives – mainly ours, three nights a week.
So here’s our top five Ron Dixon storylines. Just think, in one swift act of child murder, Ray Quinn managed to eclipse every single one of these stories…
5. The Moby
We did have something else tame and dull for fifth position, but just before we went to print we remembered The Moby, Ron’s dreadful mobile store that he arrived to the Close in with wife, DD. It had a massive picture of a whale on the side and sold all manner of crap to the bewildered, befuddled drug-dealing locals. You’ll be absolutely delighted to know though that we can’t locate a single picture of it anywhere on the internet. Thankfully his rival, Dick, crushed it into a cube at the scrap yard before the ‘joke’ could be stretched out any longer.
4. Feud with Jimmy Corkhill
So obvious for the list, but still one of the best soap grudges in existence, and grittier than anything thrown up by the piddly Mike Baldwin and that wuss Ken Barlow.
And with good reason. It was a smacked-up “Chimmy” driving erratically late one evening that caused the death of Ron’s son, Tony. Jimmy broke down and confessed all at the 14-year-old’s funeral, lighting the touch paper on one of soap’s deepest, most intense rivalries. But, as time passed and the storylines got more ridiculous, Ron was able to see past the hatred… to Jimmy’s wife Jackie, who he had a sordid affair with.
Time to leave the Close: any last words for his close pal of many years? “I hope I never see you again.” Cheerful. All in the same episode that a drug dealer was hanged from his neck till dead.
3. Baby Mike Dicko
Having a child with Bev was always going to be a dream come true. But little did Ron know that his baby was actually the fruit of a tryst between Bev and his son Mike. Gasp!
Dropped like a stone after DD left him, Bev found solace in the arms of Dicko junior and, realising he was closer to her age than Ron, let him knock her up.
Pretty soft by today’s soap standards, but it offered an intriguing look into the Dixon’s love life. When Anthea came back onto the scene (Ron and Anthea? Ranthea? Antheon?) she brought an attractive young lady with her who Mike fell for instantly. Turns out she was Mike’s sister, with Ron the father. While Jacqui was busy giving birth to a Farnham baby. Eh?… Yer wha’?
2. The murder of Clint Moffat (pictured)
You can’t accuse Brookside of not keeping up with current affairs. Echoing the case of Tony Martin, who shot burglars ransacking his farmhouse in 1999, the Dixon residence suddenly became an attractive prospect to thieves and general scumbags.
Not one to conform to convention and call the police, Ron invested in an enormous firearm, supplied by one of Tinhead’s dodgy mates. The next break-in caused Ron to snap and unload a round of bullets into Clint Moffat – his daughter Jacqui’s boyfriend’s brother. Gasp!
Don’t worry. Ron only served a few months for possession of a firearm. But he was to pay a much larger price – Anthea couldn’t cope and left him forever. Or something.
1. Contrition with Sinbad
Even more intriguing than Ron’s run-ins with Chimmy was something that seemed altogether more sinister between himself and the loveable Sinbad.
How on earth could you ever find fault with ‘our Sin’? Ron did. Somehow. But then again Ron had a problem with 95% of the Close, especially towards the end of the show’s run. When Sinbad was accused of child abuse by a fibbing little punk Ron became one of those horrible, loathed soap characters on a scale Norris from Corrie could only dream about.
Ron revelled in spreading rumour, innuendo and gossip about poor Sinbad’s plight. Even when Sinbad was cleared innocent of all charges Ron struggled as though he was too constipated to apologise, bordering on the cusp of hated soap villain.
Still, as usual on the Close, there was previous. Sinbad sold Ron a gas cooker which he tried installing in his shop himself. Of course, he didn’t do it properly and took out half of Brookside Parade.
Once a Dicko, always a Dicko. Get well soon, Vince…