Brookside actor Dean Sullivan has died aged 68.
His family and friends have paid tribute to the award-winning soap star, best known for his portrayal of Jimmy Corkhill in the Channel 4 soap from 1986 until 2003.
A statement given from Hamilton Management and his family read: ""To millions he was and very much still is remembered as 'Jimmy', to family and friends he was 'Dino'. Dean's family wants to thank Arrowe Park Hospital for their unwavering and consistent support. We ask that you respect their privacy in their time of grief."
The actor was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 and was discharged by his consultant last year after a course of radiotherapy. He went on to urge people to "listen to their bodies" as he shared his early symptoms. Explaining he noticed a change when urinating, he said: "The strength of my flow when I used to go to the loo to have a pee was reduced. The first time I went to the doctor's surgery he said, 'we'll just keep an eye on it and see how you go on'. It was a few weeks later, I just knew that wasn't right."
Dean added: "When I went back I saw a doctor who specialised in prostate treatment. He gave me a quick examination and within two weeks I was at the hospital speaking to the consultant. If I'd have listened to the first doctor, it might have been a different story so always trust your gut. 11 times out of 10, you're right. We've still got that fight or flight instinct," the Liverpool Echo reported at the time.
Dean's cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
At the time, he said that early detection was the key to his successful treatment, going on to urge others to get checked out if they displayed the same symptoms. His sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
Speaking to the Mirror in 2019, Dean spoke about his choice to undergo HDR (high dose rate) brachytherapy to treat the disease. This involves having thin tubes inserted into the gland before targeted radiation is passed down them to pinpoint and kill cancer cells.
"It was a bit uncomfortable, but you put up with it," he quipped. "I was back at home in a couple of hours and didn’t dwell on it – it was an essential part of my cancer journey. I then met up with friends locally to see in the New Year... wearing a kilt…"
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Opening up about his diagnosis, he admitted it had left him "shell shocked", saying: "I remember being a bit shell shocked really, because even though we know these days that one in three of us will be diagnosed with cancer of some sort, you never think it will be you."
At the time, he had waited to tell friends about his diagnosis, explaining: "You’re the one living with it and dealing with it and my way of dealing with it was not to let it be a major part of my life. Also, there’s the situation when you think ‘I don’t want to tell this story again’, so only my closest family and friends knew. It was one of those when I thought ‘just get on with it and what will be will be’."
Doctors later confirmed that the cancer hadn't spread to his bones after Dean underwent an MRI. "Usually I have my phone off when I’m on holiday but for some reason I hadn’t this time," he said. "The phone rang and it was the oncology nurse who said, 'Gosh, you’re a very difficult man to get hold of!' Then she revealed the scan had shown everything was fine, the cancer cells hadn’t gone anywhere else. It made my holiday even better – my friends and I were all cheering then when I hung up."
Following 20 rounds of chemotherapy, Dean was given the all-clear in 2019.
Dean joined the cast of Brookside in February 1986 as regular Jimmy Corkhill and remained with the show as its longest serving character until it was axed in November 2003. During his time on the Channel 4 soap he won two British Soap Awards, with his character featuring in many of the soaps most memorable moments - most famously, Jimmy discovering the infamous body under the patio with his dog Cracker. At its peak the show pulled in just under 9 million viewers on a regular basis.
He also had roles in BBC’s Doctors, ITV’s The Royal and ITV’s Crime Stories. Last year, he starred in Netflix short film Wings alongside Emmerdale actor Tom Lister. Dean was well known on stage, with his credits including playing Scullery in the North West premiere of Jim Cartwright’s ‘Road’ (Octagon Theatre, Bolton), a critically acclaimed North West theatre tour of one man monologue ‘Chip in the sugar’ by Alan Bennett and the world premiere of Stand Up! the Musical (with the late Lionel Blair) at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton. Dean also had extensive experience in theatre directing and writing having run his own successful theatre production company and directing several shows for the National Trust and other clients.
Fans could often enjoy watching Dean in panto and starred in hundreds of performances over the years, including as Smee in Peter Pan, Abanazar in Aladdin, Dame in Cinderella, Starkey in Peter Pan and King Rat in Dick Whittington.
Dean also found success as a presenter and broadcaster, presenting three factual series for ITV Granada and guest presenting on This Morning. He hosted his own radio show The Sullivan Show on Radio City’s sister station Citytalk, airing throughout Merseyside for many years.
In his spare time, the actor supported a number of national and regional charities by delivering speeches, taking part in charity events and fronting important campaigns on TV, radio and in the press.
In 2023, he made appearances on Channel 4's Steph’s Packed Lunch, BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 live with Helen Skelton and most recently travelling throughout Merseyside on BBC Celebrity Antiques Roadtrip raising funds for Children in Need (scheduled to air in early December) alongside the actress Tricia Penrose. He also provided the voiceover for TV trailers for the recent streaming of Brookside on STV Player. He was also seen on ITV as a special guest presenter on the 2023 ITV British Soap Awards reuniting with Brookside’s Corkhill family. He also provided the voiceover for a major art exhibition in Yorkshire. He was looking forward to topping the bill in pantomime in Southport this Christmas and we recently had positive talks with producers for new TV drama roles for 2024.
Dean was a BEd (Hons) graduate of Lancaster University and was a successful primary school teacher before becoming a professional actor. He enjoyed gardening and spending time with his family in his spare time. He was one of 7 brothers and sisters and came from humble working class Merseyside roots.