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Albion Market (British soap opera)

Number of Episodes: 100
Producers: Granada Television
Running Time: 30 minutes
Network: ITV
Premiered: August 30, 1985
Last Aired: August 24, 1986
Executive Producer: Bill Podmore

Setting: a covered Manchester market (actually a converted Salford warehouse)
Basic Premise: The series monitored the complex lives of an ethnically mixed group of stall holders.

Principal Cast: DAVID HARGREAVES as Derek Owen / JOHN MICHIE as Tony Fraser / NOREEN KERSHAW as Lynne Harrison / JOHNATHON 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

Albion Market was a short-lived soap opera, intended as a companion to Coronation Street on ITV. It was set in a street market in Salford, and featured a mulit-cultural cast including Jewish, West Indian, Pakistani and Vietnamese.

Coronation Street, ITV's perennial soap opera, celebrated its 25th anniversary in December 1985. Granada launched Albion Market in August of that year, six months after the BBC's conceptually similar EastEnders. Albion Market was a "continuing drama series" - Granada TV had always refused to use the term "soap opera", considering it derogatory - that was set in a street market in Salford, a city with a direct border across the River Irwell with Manchester, in the North West of England. At launch the chairman of Granada claimed that "When Coronation Street celebrates its Golden anniversary, Albion Market will be celebrating its silver anniversary..." However, the show lasted for only one year.

The show ran twice weekly on Friday and Sunday night; at the time, 7.00 pm on Fridays and Sundays were considered "graveyard slots", usually broadcasting American imports or British game shows such as Play Your Cards Right. The critics disliked it, and the viewing public were simply indifferent, despite an attempt to re-launch it by bringing in veteran television actor Tony Booth and 60's singer Helen Shapiro.

For many years the outdoor set, complete with its distinctive arch-shaped Albion Market sign, perched regally over the River Irwell, could be spotted from Bridge Street in Salford, Lancashire. When the Granada Tours Experience was closed in 1999, the sign was removed, and the building which was once Albion Market now forms part of the Victoria and Albert Hotel.

At the forefront of the action were the likes of hunky, cake-selling wide-boy Tony Fraser (portrayed by John Michie), his 19-year- old girlfriend, Lisa O'Shea (portrayed by Sally Baxter), her mum, Lynne Harrison (portrayed by Noreen Kershaw), who ran a domestic goods stall, and Lynne's two-timing, no-good husband, Roy (portrayed by Jonathan Barlow).

Other Principal Characters:

Lam Quoc Hoa (Philip Tan) and Ly Nhu Chan (Pik Sen Lim) were Vietnamese refugee cousins, Raju and Jaz Sharma (Dev Sagoo and Paul Bhattacharjee) were expelled Ugandan denim merchants, and Morris and Miriam Ransome (Bernard Spear and Carol Kaye) were the Jewish couple who ran the pottery stall. Derek Owen (David Hargreaves) was the harassed market supervisor, Phil Smith (Burt Caesar), the West Indian, worked in the cafe and Duane Rigg (Alistair Walker) 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.

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 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.

Sources: Wikipedia; TV.com; TVRage.com; IMDb.com; Memorable TV
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