Market In Honey Lane

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1 9 6 7 - 1 9 6 9 (UK)

Pre-dating EastEnders by two decades, this Cockney soap drama was created by Louis Marks and centred around a London street market and its traders and customers. The producers said; "we're not a southern Coronation Street - we're a series not a serial".

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Launched in April 1967, the show had overtaken long-standing programmes in the ratings within a week.

Each episode told a story of a particular character working or living in the market: Billy (John Bennett), a hard-bitten gambler who's usually facing economic disaster on a major or minor scale cheerfully works alongside vegetable seller Dave (Ray Lonnen), who's after a spot for his brother. Widow Polly (Pat Nye) runs a busy fruit stall while her dim-witted son Danny (Brian Rawlinson) does odd jobs to earn a bit of cash.

Then there are the fly pitchers - boys who work out of a suitcase, drumming up a crowd to make a sale and swiftly moving on, or those on the hunt to get a stall at any cost.

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One of the most extensive open air sets ever built for TV drama was constructed by ATV at Elstree for the series, with shops, stalls and a pub. 18 years later the BBC bought the studio and did exactly the same thing with EastEnders.

The series ran for two years although the name was shortened to just Honey Lane in September 1968 when it became a twice-weekly afternoon show, screening for thirty minutes on Mondays and Wednesdays (It took the place of the unsuccessful soap Driveway which lasted just 16 episodes).

But after several changes to its transmission time - which saw the series run in the afternoons and late at night in different ITV areas - Honey Lane was dropped the following March, after six months in the soap business.

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Billy Bush
John Bennett
Jacko Bennett

Peter Birrell
Jimmy Bentall

Jack Bligh
Sam English

Michael Golden
Dave Sampson

Ray Lonnen
Polly Jessel
Pat Nye
Danny Jessel

Brian Rawlinson