Alexei Sayle returns to Liverpool to examine his troubled relationship with the city by meeting those who have played a role in its recent history
In the final programme of the series looking at the history of the 2008 European Capital of Culture, Alexei Sayle tries to find out the essence of that elusive genie: the Scouse spirit. That sense of having nothing to do with Britain, of being larger-than-life citizens of the republic of Liverpool. The programme examines Alexei's own troubled identity. The man who embodies Liverpool to the world at large has never felt part of, or indeed come to terms with his home town. That's because he had one of the oddest childhoods on record. And he goes back to work it out with the one woman who still has the power to make Mr Fierce grovel...his mum, the irrepressible Molly. Where everyone else in the city was going to Malaga he, as the child of good revolutionary communists, was off on holiday to tractor collectives in the Eastern bloc. With a city riven on religious grounds - Prod Everton, Catholic Liverpool - Alexei was marching for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Molly laughs it all off, and threatens to sue if the programme goes out. So Alexei embarks on a bid to reconnect with his inner Scouser, he golfs with Liverpool legend John Aldridge, talks Shankly as Messiah with Ian St John, meets an extraordinary family who've furnished three medal winning boxing champions, and has the mickey taken out of him by Harry Enfield. Will the encounter change Alexei?
No scouser ever believes they have lost an argument. It's made Liverpool simultaneously one of the touchiest and proudest places in the world - with a century-long tradition of radicalism and riot and an identity all of its very own. Mock it at your peril...as the most public Scouser in Britain discovered... Five years ago, this very prickliness led Alexei to need personal protection at a book reading, after he'd made the cardinal scouse sin of knocking his home town. And worst of all he'd laughed in the face of the award of European Capital of Culture, the very thing most Scousers hope will save the place...but not Alexei. 'You've got to be having a laugh..we don't have any culture.' Cue - Uproar. From the pages of the local paper, 'Alexei Sayle, remember him. He used to be funny and had a career..well he gave all that up to go and eat raw fish in London.' 'We forgive you Alexei..but we won't forget.' This unsettling episode propels Alexei back to force a journey of reconnection with that all that Scouse emotion.