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Tomorrow's Merseysiders (1974)

Courtesy of Liverpool Echo and Daily Post

Main image of Tomorrow's Merseysiders (1974)
16mm, 25 min, colour
DirectorEric Marquis
Production CompanyUnit 7 Film Productions
 Film Producers Guild
SponsorLiverpool Daily Post
 Liverpool Echo
PhotographyGraham Minassian

Commentator: John Gregson

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Life in Merseyside, showing the role of the region's two newspapers, the Liverpool Daily Post and the Echo. The story of the production of the newspapers is interwoven into the lives of the Merseysiders.

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No modern viewer of Tomorrow's Merseysiders can avoid watching it with irony. The film's apprehensive but optimistic prognosis for the children of Liverpool and its environs is now haunted by the bleak economic fate which would later descend on them.

This may seem an overly grave response to a little-known 16mm short designed to promote the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo newspapers. True, one of the film's fascinations is its breezy sketch of 1970s regional journalism, driven by rattling typewriters, ringing cord-telephones, and staff segregated by class and gender (male reporters, female receptionists, male printers). But its sponsorship is in the tradition of enlightened patronage, the funder's image boosted by association with social responsibility.

Early on, it's stated that the papers reach as far as North Wales and Cheshire but the emphasis is on Liverpool. The film's title derives from a conversation between the editor and a journalist working on a story about the changing cityscape. They refer to the hordes of scousers migrating to new overspill towns but wonder about the abandoned slums inside the City's boundaries. Director Eric Marquis cuts to images of burning rubble.

Tomorrow's Merseysiders is one of Marquis's lower-key efforts, avoiding both the swagger of some of his more stylised promotional work and the more graphic imagery of his films for sponsors like the pharmaceutical industry and the Metropolitan Police. Yet he still fashions what could have been a bland advertisement into an inconspicuously artful, mildly socially conscious piece of filmmaking. Marquis was a talented member of an unjustly neglected generation of documentary-makers that excelled at the applied art of industrial filmmaking - to the increasing indifference of viewers turning their attention to television documentary.

Like several 1970s films produced for non-theatrical screening, Tomorrow's Merseysiders blends techniques from both disciplines (perhaps encouraged by its journalistic theme). Fly-on-the-wall scenes like the editorial conference lend a televisual feel; the film's artistic if unoriginal design (intercutting the story of the Post and Echo's production with vignettes of local life) bestows a cinematic quality. Across the film, associations and contrasts, sometimes subliminal, are built up by careful use of picture and sound. Walker Art Gallery paintings recall Toxteth graffiti. A Punch-and-Judy show echoes youthful vandalism. A youthful choir and orchestra counterpoint the Post and Echo's clattering printing presses. Aerial landscapes anchor the several montages of the fresh faces of children - tomorrow's Merseysiders, the adults of the 1980s and 1990s.

Patrick Russell

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Shadows of Progress: Documentary Film in Post-War Britain 1951-1977'.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (20:03)
Wakefield Express (1952)
Marquis, Eric (1928-)
Postwar Documentary
Liverpool: Days in the Life
Liverpool: Made in Liverpool