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?
This is the city of endless reinvention; it's had more makeovers than a Hollywood starlet. In 200 years it's had the lot - one minute it's the richest place in Britain and possibly the world, and the next it's the ultimate sink city, crippled by strikes and unemployment. It is now European Capital of Culture. So is this, its latest incarnation, going to be any more long lasting than the others that preceded it? Alexei Sayle charts the chequered history of Liverpool from the shame of slavery to the bold new city shaking off the troubles of its recent past.