Conceived as a sister programme to Coronation Street, with the aim of lifting ITV’s weekend schedules (it went out on Fridays and Sundays), Albion Market arrived with a bang and left with a whimper. Much was made of the launch of this ambitious new series, but its poor audience ratings (beaten by Wogan and open all hours) resulted in some ITV regions moving it to even less advantageous time-slots and Albion Market eventually shut up shop a year after it began, after exactly 100 half-hour episodes.
Set in a covered Manchester market (actually a converted Salford warehouse), the series monitored the complex lives of an ethnically mixed group of stall holders. At the forefront of the action were the likes of hunky, cake-selling wide-boy Tony Fraser, his 19-year- old girlfriend, Lisa O’Shea, her mum, Lynne Harrison, who ran a domestic goods stall, and Lynne’s two-timing, no-good husband, Roy.
Lam Quoc Hoa and Ly Nhu Chan were Vietnamese refugee cousins, Raju and Jaz Sharma were expelled Ugandan denim merchants, and Morris and Miriam Ransome were the Jewish couple who ran the pottery stall. Derek Owen was the harassed market supervisor, Phil, the West Indian, worked in the cafe and Duane Rigg was the market’s teenage delinquent. Towards the end of its run, two new personalities were introduced in an attempt to give the show a lift. Sixties pop singer Helen Shapiro played Viv, a hair-dresser, and former till death us do part ‘Scouse git’ Tony Booth was seen as Ted Pilkington, licensee of the market’s local, The Waterman’s Arms.
UK / ITV – Granada / 100×30 minute episodes / 1985-86
Executive Producer: Bill Podmore
DAVID HARGREAVES as Derek Owen
JOHN MICHIE as Tony Fraser
NOREEN KERSHAW as Lynne Harrison
JONATHAN BARLOW as Roy Harrison
HELEN SHAPIRO as Viv Harker
ANTHONY BOOTH as Ted Pilkington
BERNARD SPEAR as Morris Ransome
CAROL KAYE as Miriam Ransome
BURT CAESAR as Phil Smith
PAUL BHATTACHARJEE as Jaz Sharma
DEV SAGOO as Raju Sharma
PHILIP TAN as Lam Quoc Hoa
PIK-SEN LIM as Ly Nhu Chan