The writer of a comedy set in Runcorn returned to her roots recently to get a first hand look at new regeneration plans.

Susan Nickson created BBC hit Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps which ran from 2001 to 2011. Starring Sheridan Smith, Will Mellor, Natalie Casey, Ralf Little, the show was set in Susan's hometown of Runcorn.

The former Grange pupil recently returned to get an insight into the Reconnecting Runcorn project, which is overseeing a number of schemes designed to breathe new life into the town centre.  Funded through the government's Towns Fund, it features seven projects scattered around the town centre.

One of the main locations in the series was the Archers Pub, which was previously known as ‘The Waterloo Pub’ in Runcorn. It has now been transformed into a Buddhist Temple. While exploring the temple, Susan said she was 'amazed' by the space and compared it to what it used to be.

She said: "It used to be a place where I would come with my friends to drink, maybe play darts or snooker, and now it has been converted into this incredible spiritual building."

Runcorn and Widnes World: Inside Hazlehurst Studios of Susan Nickson and Gail Louise.Inside Hazlehurst Studios of Susan Nickson and Gail Louise. (Image: PR)

Work has commenced on the development of a community peace garden as part of the Reconnecting Runcorn High Street Connectivity plans. Construction started earlier this month and it is located adjacent to the temple. Following on from the temple, Susan visited Hazlehurst Studio at 71 High Street where local artists work on community-led projects and private commissions. There she had the chance to meet some of the artists who use the space. 

She then headed to Power in Partnership (PIP) in the Old Town, a project which works with young people around Halton. While there she met with some of the staff and young people that have been helped by the programme. She also had the chance to hear about plans for a new building, which is currently awaiting planning permission.

"To have this for young people is incredibly important for their mental health” she said. “With a safe place for them to be able to find other like-minded people that have the same interests, same hobbies. Being able to share ideas and build on their own talents and find new talents."

Whilst there she was asked about what she thought made the show a success while it was set in a part of the UK that no one would have thought to base a sitcom in.

She said: "I think the reason it worked was because it reflected a genuine experience for a lot of people, people didn’t see themselves on TV.

"To have themselves represented and be able to watch themselves and to show that it isn’t all grim up north and you can have a laugh no matter what your economic circumstances are."

Runcorn and Widnes World: Outside the current Power In Partnership centre, with Susan Nickson and representatives from Power in PartnershipOutside the current Power In Partnership centre, with Susan Nickson and representatives from Power in Partnership (Image: PR)

Susan began her career aged 14 when she won the Lloyds Bank Film Challenge with a ten-minute short film called Buddah's Legs. In 1995, her half-hour satirical comedy Life's a Bitch, starring Sean Hughes and Kathy Burke, aired on Channel 4. She also created the BBC Three sitcom Grownups and in 2022 her latest original series, Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything, premièred on Sky Comedy.

At the end of the tour, Susan said she believed the regeneration plans could be transformative for the town and its residents. She added: "The town seems like a place that is growing and has got a lot of investment being put into it. Hopefully, it will attract more businesses and means people will be moving into the area for positive reasons."