Former BEATLE Paul McCartney has given his backing to his English hometown Liverpool in its bid to become EUROPEAN CITY OF CULTURE 2008.

Sir Paul says that Liverpool should not just be the capital of culture, but the "capital of the universe".

Liverpool is one of six cities competing for the title and plans to host 50 international festivals and 1,000 community events.

Proposals also include the opening of the Fourth Grace, a museum of comedy unveiled in the city, an archive trail and a Liverpool anthem.

Sir Paul who will return to Liverpool on 1 June 2003 for a concert at the Kings Dock, says, "Liverpool is most rich in the history of its architecture, music, its politics and much else besides.

"But most of all, Liverpool is rich in the spirit of its people and for that I support its claim to be not just a cultural capital of Europe, but the capital of the universe."