Liverpool: new "star" of stage and screen

Think of Liverpool and you inevitably think of two things: the Beatles and football. In their own way, both are more popular than ever, not least Liverpool FC which has hopes of winning an amazing quadruple of trophies this season.

But there is, of course, a lot more to the city than music and sport – as TV viewers around the world have been finding out recently.

The global phenomenon that is Peaky Blinders returned to Liverpool for its just aired final series, with the city now having hosted all six series of the BAFTA-winning period crime drama.

From the very first scene of Tommy Shelby riding his horse through Birmingham 1919 (actually, Powis Street, Toxteth in 2012) to the next frame of the original ‘The Garisson’ pub (Stanley Dock), through to the famous showdown on Formby Beach in series 4, and now Liverpool Cathedral in series 6 – the city has been the playground to some of the series’ most memorable scenes.

Batman director Matt Reeves also chose Liverpool because he “wanted it to feel like an American city you’d never been to.”

Two of the city’s most iconic landmarks; St George’s Hall and Royal Liver Building were immortalised as Gotham City Hall and Gotham City Police Department for the big screen.

Reeves was keen to create a world that was at once plausible and unrecognizable. “We didn’t want to have Times Square standing in for Gotham Square so we added skyscrapers and an elevated train to the gothic architecture of Wellington Square in Liverpool.”

The Liver Building is also great for what is called an RLB 360 immersive tour which is both informative and affords great views across the River Mersey. On top are two statues of the mythical bird, each with a wingspan of some 24 inches.

The tour guides provide an enjoyable and knowledgeable insight into the city’s history as well as pointing out the many local landmarks, such as the two impressive cathedrals which are located on the same street. This monolithic pile was actually designed by a German which, given that Liverpool FC is led by a German, seems entirely appropriate.

Nearby at the wonderfully restored Albert Dock is another must see in this fine city: The Beatles Story, the world’s largest permanent exhibition dedicated to telling the story of the Fab Four.

It’s hard to think of a single city that can boast such a famous band and whose popularity has survived, indeed flourished, over so long a period.

Visitors will be swept along on a wave of pure nostalgia as they explore first hand an awe inspiring wealth of authentic items including, guitars and drums from the Hamburg days, interviews with those that took part in the journey including Sir Paul McCartney, John Lennon’s itinerary from their first American tour, the mysterious cello from “Magical Mystery Tour” and medals from the pop art masterpiece “Sgt Pepper”.

There is also the earliest ever enchanting footage of the Beatles playing live, genuine gold and platinum discs, quirky props from their films and photo shoots, personal letters and belongings, seats from Shea Stadium and Candlestick Park, spotlights and studio monitors from the iconic Abbey Road Studios and so much more.

The Museum is but one of several top attractions here, including The British Music Experience in the Cunard Building telling the story of British music through the decades (and, yes, that includes other cities too).

But, as hard as you might try, you are never likely to be far away from this city’s musical connections and that even extends to eating out, for instance at the Cavern restaurant, located directly opposite the famous Cavern, where the Beatles first leapt to fame in the 1960s.

It is owned by the same people who also run the Cavern and an adjacent pub.

It’s worth a visit, not least to meet Marcos, its colourful Brazilian-born manager who has been in the city for years and is a font of fascinating information.

One of the dishes is a wonderfully named “Scouse” – a famous Liverpudlian meal from which locals get their nickname “Scousers”.

For the uninitiated this is slow cooked prime beef stew with veg and potatoes and served with beetroot and red cabbage. There’s even a gin called The Scouse you can wash it down with.

After a nice meal here (the place used to be a bank and, if you lucky, you might get a quick look at the old vault below ground), pop over to the famous Cavern to get a flavour of what all the fuss is about when it comes to the city’s most revered (four) sons. The club still holds live music and is awash with Beatles memories.

With so much to do and see here you’d be well advised to spend a few nights if you can and a great spot for any stopover is Staycity, an aparthotel very close to the Waterfront (one of two locations in the city).

It provides the perfect blend of home and hotel where you can eat, work, rest and play in a fully furnished apartment just like you would in the comfort of your own home but with the bonus of standard hotel services such as a 24 hour reception.

This place, which has 250 well equipped apartments, is located in the city’s ever busy docklands and within walking distance of all the top attractions.It’s popular with Norwegian football fans who regularly come over to Liverpool to watch the Reds.

Other places of interest include the Museum of Liverpool, Tate Liverpool, The Maritime Museum and FACT Liverpool.

One fact is clear: if you’re looking for a city break that combines sport, culture and much else besides it’s hard to beat the home of the Beatles.

With travel restrictions to the UK from mainland Europe now finally eased, popping over to Merseyside (the city has good air links to Europe) makes for a great idea.

Film makes are making a beeline for the city so why not do the same?

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Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter

EU Today's Staff Reporters cover a wide variety of topics, involving the EU, its institutions, and its 27 member states.

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