Woman becomes Scouse soap star after asking simple question

Alicia has starred in numerous shows and worked behind the scenes
Alicia has starred in numerous shows and worked behind the scenes -Credit:Alicia Brockenbrow

A woman went from working in an arcade to starring in one of the UK’s biggest TV shows.

Alicia Brockenbrow, 31, from Bootle, had a clear idea of what she wanted to do growing up. Speaking to the ECHO, Alicia said: “As a child, I was always the centre of attention. I enjoyed performing for people. People enjoying what I was doing made me want to keep doing that sort of stuff.”

Alicia began working her way up in the acting industry, attending a performing arts school in Blackpool and found work in the town. She said: “I was working in Coral Island, the Blackpool arcade.

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“I asked to be a full-time receptionist. It wasn't acting but it was in an in. I built connections from there really.

“They were great at championing locals and helping step you up. That’s where I got my first speaking role - it was an episode of Moving On, I was a waitress. It was a very small line but inspired me to keep going on.”

As well as getting the part in the Jimmy McGovern-written series, Alicia had also obtained experience of behind-the-scenes work with Liverpool-based company LA Productions. She began to specialise as the second assistant director, a role which involves liaising with actors and arranging make-up and set dressing.

A highlight of her career came this week when she was cast as Mabel Cole, a friend of long-running character Whitney Dean played by Shona McGarty. In the storyline, Whitney discovers her foster child Britney has Usher Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that many are unaware of.

Describing the character of Mabel, Alicia said: “She’s a social worker. Her story is with Whitney Dean. She’s looking after a young girl called Britney. Social services come in because she doesn't have the mum’s permission to look out for her.

“It was really important to me and the director - I wanted to give her some warmth. I know a lot of social workers. I wanted to make sure she came across as sympathetic.

“It was really really exciting and quite intimidating, but I didn't mind. I was quite happy. You've got these actors who are all so amazing and so professional. They've got so much to learn but pull it out the bag.”

Alicia bonded with other actors starring in the soap and was supported by more established stars too. However, as she stepped on set for her first scene, she wasn’t sure whether she would be speaking with her Scouse accent or a cockney one.

She said: “I was willing to do both. I auditioned with a Scouse accent and a London one. Both were fine. It came to on the day.

“The director Ian Curtis - he just wanted the best performance. When I was there on the square, I did the London one first. Then did Scouse.

“I turned to him and went, would you rather me do? He said, do it in your own accent. I was relieved. Then I could concentrate on the performance.”

Alicia will be starring in upcoming ITV crime drama Protection in November. She said: "In terms of height of acting career, that's the biggest so far. Siobhan Finneran is amazing to work with."

Alicia has also had numerous highlights while working as a second assistant director. She said: “On series two of Andy and the Band, Brian May [was] filming with us in Pensby High School, he had to film playing guitar so it was like a mini gig for about 40 cast and crew, surreal. Him and his wife Anita Dobson were both in the series and both the loveliest people.

“The second highlight would be filming in Spain with Jason Isaacs and Laura Aikman for ITV's Archie. We filmed in this incredible mansion that was meant to be Cary Grant's home, and it was the first time I'd worked in another country for a job. The weather, catering, the company, everything was perfect. And gave me a chance to use my GCSE Spanish with the local crew.”

Alicia hopes her work can show other young people in Merseyside that they can succeed in the industry despite the difficulties working-class northerners face breaking into creative industries. She said: “I'd encourage people to not see that barrier. If you start saying, that's not for me, you won’t get anywhere.

“I’ll email people, I’ll phone people. The worst thing that can happen is someone says no. I think back to the things I said yes to and they've got me to where I am today. When you meet people, be kind to them, leave a good impression and say yes.

“I never planned to be here. I didn't have much of a direction. I knew I liked acting and wanted to explore it more.

“I didn't know these other roles existed. I don't think I realised there were so many jobs and people could live like this. My year will be three months working on a high-end drama and then nothing can come up for a month. You need to keep up connections to get the next job.

“Everything you see on Netflix and other places is made by freelancers. You make a little family. On your next job you might see some of them. It's a lovely industry and I don't think many people see it as an option.”

Alicia’s adaptability is reflected in her agency, RBA Management in Liverpool. This is a co-op agency, meaning she is both represented by RBA agents and works as an agent herself, representing other actors. They are keen for anyone who feels underrepresented to apply, along with anyone from Liverpool looking to pursue acting as a career.

Alicia is also aiming to show that you can take breaks from solely acting works and still find success. She said: “I had a whole other life between 2018 and 2021. I went to London and was a swing dance teacher. I taught and wrote a play and did some nannying.

“I went there for acting really but didn't do too much of it. I decided to use the time to write a play. I was able to put it on and direct the play. That's probably my biggest achievement.

“Sometimes, people say when you leave acting, it's hard to get back in. But that little break gave me a little bit of reassurance that I could do it.”

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