Albion Market (ITV, 1985-1986)
This is a soap that I don’t remember watching at the time, but this turned out to be a rather unexpected flop, so I thought that I would try and find out why. Granada had long-since established Coronation Street, so it was clearly thought that it might be a good idea to launch another soap. Coronation Street at the time was shown on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Albion Market would also be shown twice a week, on Fridays and Sundays.
There was a lot of promotion for this, there was a TV Times cover and everything, and soon all of the characters would become rather familiar to viewers. Well, that was the plan. Nobody seemed to think that this could possibly fail. Albion Market was set on a market stall in Salford. We don’t really see that much of the cast’s family life, just how the days pass as they try to sell things.
This clearly didn’t get off to the best start, and as the weeks went by, the decision was made to add some more cast members, for that much-needed touch of class. One of them was played by Helen Shapiro, who had previously found fame by being a chart-topping singer at the age of 14. And she was born in Bethnal Green, which is where this very piece has been put together in London, how fascinating.
But, would you believe, this didn’t manage to bring the viewers in. It turned out that the 100th episode, almost a year on from the launch, would be the last. This featured a high-profile wedding, but it was all too little too late. As least they didn’t blow up everything though. Albion Market is now fairly forgotten, whilst Coronation Street continues to this day.
It seemed that a lot of time and money had ended up going to waste on this. At least Albion Market was still just about a quality level above Thames’s effort at a soap Gems from around the same time, and this was still better treated than Night And Day ever was by ITV, not that I’m still bitter about that or anything all this time later, oh definitely not.
One reason for the failure could be because EastEnders had launched not long before, and did go on to become a big success, maybe there were only so many soaps that viewers would commit to at a time. And apparently LWT didn’t want to have soaps as part of their schedule because viewers would rather watch flashy game shows like Play Your Cards Right (which also happened to be an LWT Production) at that time of the week.