Willy Russell’s musical was written in 1983, as Margaret Thatcher presided over a Britain bitterly divided by class. Blood Brothers tells the story of identical twins who were separated at birth; Eddie is sent to a wealthy upper-class family while Mickey stays with his poverty-stricken birth mother. When they are children, the boys quickly become friends. But as they grow up they are shaped by their vastly different backgrounds and their lives move in two opposing — and ultimately tragic — directions.
The two boys are both kind, honest people with a propensity for trouble. But Eddie’s privileged background leads him to success, while Mickey’s life spirals into crime, depression and addiction. ‘Do we blame superstition for what came to pass?’ asks the narrator in the play’s final lines. ‘Or could it be what we, the English, have come to know as class?’
Social mobility is a cruel lie, experts warn
Is social mobility a myth? All board members of the UK’s Social Mobility Commission resigned in protest at the lack of government support. Now some say social divides are stronger than ever.
A devastating defeat for political elites
All over the developed world the uprising against the ‘establishment’ is gathering pace. Should we be glad? How should we interpret it? And what message should we try to learn from it?
You are part of the royal family. Probably.
A leading geneticist has calculated that almost every Briton is directly descended from Edward III. But many find facts like this scarcely believable. Why are we so bad at probability?
The boys do not know that they are related until the play’s final moments — but they feel an instant connection, and swear themselves as ‘blood brothers’. And yet Eddie’s adopted family also has a strong influence over his life. How important are family ties?
Luck, genes and the limits of parenting
Your path in life largely depends on how your parents treated you. Or so we think. An academic is arguing that the influence of parents is overrated. So what exactly makes us who we are?
Labour star flees ‘soap opera of two brothers’
David Miliband once seemed to be Labour’s leader-in-waiting. Instead, it was the younger Ed who claimed the top job. Now the defeated brother has resigned as an MP to move to America.
‘Moral’ young people put family first
Religion, broader society and even other relationships lose out in a new survey of teens and young adults – looking after family is seen as the best measure of morality.
From the beginning, money is a source of conflict and suffering — it is lack of money that forces Mrs Johnstone to give up Eddie in the first place. Years later, the twins’ friendship disintegrates as poverty forces Mickey to grow up faster than Eddie. Have things improved?
From a council estate to Britain’s richest man
Should we celebrate wealth? The Sunday Times has published its annual list of the UK’s 1,000 richest people. At the top is Jim Ratcliffe, a billionaire from a council estate in Manchester...
Extreme poverty slashed by half in 30 years
Can we end poverty forever? Despite the news that last year saw the biggest increase in billionaires in history, the proportion of the world’s poorest has tumbled to less than 10%
The world’s youngest self-made billionaire
Is she a role model? Aged 10, Kylie Jenner was a reality TV star, standing in the shadow of her sisters. Aged 21, she is one of the world’s most successful businesswomen with an Instagram empire.
What makes two identical babies grow into such different men? Is it their their class, as the play suggests, or the choices they make? Or are their similarities ultimately stronger — such as their shared love for Linda, which drives them even further apart?
US scientists crack secrets of personality
Should we pay attention to personality tests? American scientists have used big data to split humanity into four distinct personality types. Science like this has a controversial history.
The incredible story of triplets split at birth
Does nature or nurture determine who we are? Identical triplets were separated at birth and raised by very different families. Years later, the three strangers met for the first time.
Cameron enters national identity minefield
Prime Minister claims multiculturalism has left us segregated. Britain needs stronger national identity, he says, but many disagree.
There is one more explanation for the twins’ deaths: fate. The narrator repeatedly references various superstitions, and Mrs Lyons scares Mrs Johnstone with a made-up belief that they boys will die if they ever find out they are related. This turns out to be true, but was it a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Talent is a destructive myth, claims new book
A new book argues that the ‘myth’ of innate talent is holding students back, and crippling people’s life chances. It’s the latest salvo in a long and controversial debate.
Secret diaries uncover Obama, the young romantic
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Witching hour as Halloween draws closer
Millions of children will dress up as supernatural beings for Halloween. But in the past, fear of spirits and witches has led to conflict, torture and mass murder.