Ahead of tonight’s Caught by the River Mersey event, JD Beauvallet remembers the making of You’ll Never Walk Alone – the cult 1992 French television film on the Liverpool music scene:
Back in the early 90’s, I received a rather odd visit to the offices of my magazine Les Inrockuptibles from Evelyne Ragot and Jérôme De Missolz, who had come to discuss a film project of theirs about the Liverpool scene. Their insight into the Merseyside area had not come from extensive travel, but articles penned by me following lengthy and often interminable interviews with the heroes of my youth: The Pale Fountains, The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, The Wild Swans and the like.
They had formed a romanticised view of Liverpool and went misty-eyed when they referred to the anecdotes and quotes from the musicians they intended to include in their film.
I completely got that romanticism about Liverpool and have always found stuff like a trip on the Mersey, visiting the Liver building or watching the sunset on Hope Street totally romantic – more so than Paris in fact.
Before I met Evelyne and Jérôme I’d spent much of my wasted youth as a resident of Gambier Terrace, L1 and took full advantage of these formative months: I went to as many gigs as possible and spent as much money at Probe records as my wages from being a waiter at La Grande Bouffe would allow.
Probe felt like a bubble for me and other like-minded people – it was somewhere quite separate from the real world. Obviously, everyone took the piss out of my accent, but that didn’t matter because I took it to be a sign of acceptance.
I spent hours talking about the city with E and J: the buildings; the musicians; the humour; the tragedies and without a second thought accepted my ‘role’ in the film. I was so proud to have the chance to pay tribute to my beloved Liverpool and immediately wanted to be part of it; I would forever be the innocent journalist corrupted by the mighty Ian McCulloch.
And I am still very proud to have been part of the filming of such an epic, albeit in a minor way, in which laughter, drama and booze abounded.
I frequently meet French people whose first experience of Merseyside, The Pale Fountains and the Bunnymen was through the film.
Evelyne and Jérôme were absolutely magnificent: they just acted like flies on the walls, watching with bemusement the crazy normal life of Liverpool. They never turned anyone or any situation into a caricature. They showed so much love and respect for the people of Liverpool. I stayed in touch with Jérôme until his sad death. His dream was to return to Merseyside to film the same people 20 years later. We both shared this deep passion and fascination for Liverpool. None of us ever escaped.
With special thanks to Emma Skinmore.
Caught by the River Mersey has now completely sold out. Our next event takes place at Bush Hall on Sunday 4 February. More info here.