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Market on Honey Lane / Honey Lane (1967-69)

Main image of Market on Honey Lane / Honey Lane (1967-69)
Anglia Television for ITV, tx. 3/4/1967-30/9/1969
66 x 30/50/60 min eps in 3 series, black & white
Series created byLouis Marks
ProducerJohn Cooper
Written byLouis Marks
 Raymond Bowers
 Robert Holmes
 Monty Norman
 Margot Bennett

Cast: John Bennett (Billy Bush); Ray Lonnen (Dave Sampson); Peter Birrel (Jacko Bennet); Brian Rawlinson (Danny Jessel); Pat Nye (Polly Jessel); Iain Gregory (Mike Sampson); Ivor Salter (Harry Jolson); Alister Williamson (Tooke); Vicki Woolf (Vicky); John Barrett (Joey English); Sheila Manahan (Sarah Bush); Gabriel Woolf (Gervase Lorrimer)

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Daily life around a busy Soho street market.

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This soap serial, in trying to demonstrate an earthy, natural society, succeeded somehow in showing how very nice, how indomitably life-loving, how British and human and working-class life is.

Inspired to some extent by Granada TV's success with Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-), ATV's Market in Honey Lane was a very conventional TV serial, setting up minor heartbreaks and conflicts so that the writers could dissolve them, usually, in a flood of cosy sentimentality.

The series was conceived by writer Louis Marks, and was based on the bustle and vivacity of the pavement jungle in Soho's Berwick Street Market. Unexpectedly, Marks went on to produce classic drama for the BBC's Play of the Month (1965-83), as well as Arthur Miller's The Crucible (BBC, tx. 12/4/1981) and several editions of Play for Today (1970-84).

Although this form of serialised TV drama is intended to explore the complexity of human relationships - in this case, the market stallholders and the local people - the viewer is often asked to suspend belief in the mercenary motives of all concerned. The central characters in the series' early period were stall owners Billy Bush (played by a wily John Bennett), Jacko Bennett (Peter Birrel), Polly Jessel (Pat Nye) and her dim-witted son Danny (Brian Rawlinson).

Market in Honey Lane ran for two series from April 1967 to March 1968, and was then shown at various times around the schedules (in various regions) with the title shortened to Honey Lane. The focus of this now twice-weekly serial was the changing life of the Soho area. Most of the old characters returned (including Billy Bush and Danny) and were supplemented by new names and new faces; a new market inspector, Mr Barclay (a repellent Bill Owen) proved to be as 'bent' as a previous inspector.

The series, overall, is deeply embedded in a culture; that of the Cockney proletariat with its wide boys, stoical mothers and hermetic yet threatening cosiness. It was not an earth-shaking programme, and certainly not pioneering in any revolutionary ideas in technique and production, but simply proposed itself to the casual viewer as a mildly pleasant affair.

Nearly 20 years later, Granada revived the market setting for the shortlived soap Albion Market (ITV, 1985-86), while the Albert Square market has always been a regular source of stories in EastEnders (BBC, 1985-).

Tise Vahimagi

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Video Clips
Complete episode (47:03)
Albion Market (1985-86)
Soap Opera