In 2006, a quirky new venue in Liverpool city center got off on the wrong foot when its special guest was a disgraced soap opera star on its official opening night, reports the Liverpool Echo.
The FAB Cafe opening which was hosted by owner Jonathan Thompson on September 28, 2006, saw former EastEnders star Leslie Grantham, who played Dirty Den in the BBC One soap opera, co-host the event.
Only two years earlier, the actor had had his role on the soap opera cut following a leaked video of him performing lewd acts on a webcam and allegations that he insulted co-stars.
The cafe’s opening on Hope Street saw long queues of people who had bought a ticket for the venue’s opening night. The FAB cafe was part of a chain of retro-inspired TV and cinema themed bars of the same name, already popular in Manchester and Leeds.
The bar was decorated with nostalgic memorabilia, including a replica of a Doctor Who Tardis and a Cyberman. Brightly colored prints of classic sci-fi movies and TV shows lined the walls; there was also a selection of retro arcade game cabinets for drinkers to enjoy.
In a review of the venue in the Liverpool Echo on 12 October 2006, it was compared unfavorably to its successful Manchester hangout. Describing the newly opened bar, the reviewer said: “The people who decorated the Fab Cafe went to great lengths, but the result still looks like a student union bar. There’s the easy-to-wash floor; the utility stairs and ramps, and that shiny outdoor cafe furniture.
“The original bar has a few display cases of old toys, but they were only able to fill one here. There’s even a Teletubby in there! You can buy them in stores.”
“The centerpiece of the whole bar is a Cyberman, who they posed emerging from a cocoon net to a homemade Tardis (the Manchester branch has a Dalek that someone is wired to move). Aliens from Doctor Who, or any TV villain costume, are always a disappointment in real life, and the Cyberman just looks cheap.”
Elsewhere there is a circle where some sort of ripple effect has been projected (there will be a reason why) and silhouettes of an alien, the alien from Alien, the Doctor and Catwoman. dance floor is set up like Star’s room Go where they teleport you.”
On opening night itself, Leslie Grantham arrived at the venue in a Silver Spirit Rolls-Royce. The Southport Reporter said at the time that the actor came to “deafening cries of support” before taking questions from the packed audience.
Someone who attended the opening night claimed that during Grantham’s Q&A, he recalled it was a loud and difficult reception for the actor who had so recently been embroiled in a online sex scandal. A video of the night in question can be found on YouTubeshows the ex-Eastender manhandled by the public.
While Grantham was partly there to promote his upcoming book, many of the rowdiest members of the audience chanted “Dirty Den” over and over as he took to the stage while mocking and booing the actor throughout. of the evening. The former Eastender was then the subject of a number of ironic questions about the scandal, which only two years earlier had filled national newspapers, and his days on the soap opera.
After the questions were opened up to the public, the actor did his best to answer questions like, “What was it like working with Dean Gaffney?”
When asked why he quit working on EastEnders, a weary Grantham replied, “Because the scripts were crap!” Perhaps a way to not only avoid the real reason, but also the result of the public’s relentless take on mickey.
Audiences grew increasingly flustered as Grantham spoke about his upcoming autobiography and book signing. But the answer to a final question from the audience was met with cheers when asked if he would ever return to Eastenders, the actor replied: “No, I would rather be at Emmerdale Farm.”
After leaving Eastenders, Grantham continued to work in pantomime, theatre, television and film. He even returned behind the bar at the Queen Vic in 2010 in an interview to mark the soap opera’s 25th anniversary.