Phil founded Mersey Television in 1981 as a way to produce his own work and has since expanded the company into one of Britain's biggest permanent employers in the independent production sector. He had already created the innovative BBC children's series Grange Hill in 1978 before setting up Mersey Television and devising the pioneering drama serial Brookside. In 1995 Phil launched the young person's serial drama Hollyoaks for Channel 4. Mersey Television's success has come through the marriage of creative vision, strong financial controls and pioneering new technology to improve production efficiency and reduce costs. The company is regarded as a global centre of excellence in technical development and application.
Phil is a Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University where he is also a Member of the Board of Trustees and Honorary Chair of Media. He is also Chairman of the International Centre for Digital Content that he was integral in establishing in 1997. In 1988 he was instrumental in setting up the Liverpool Film Office, the first of its kind in the UK, to capitalise on the talent and economic and architectural potential of the City. He was a founder member of the first regional branch of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Manchester, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Phil originally trained as a Quantity Surveyor before concentrating on a career as a writer in 1972. He was awarded the CBE in 2004.