1 9 9 7 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
Early in the first episode of Tiger Bay, a character who has just been released from a long spell in prison emerges from his local South Wales railway station and jumps in a cab. “The docks,” he orders. “Haven’t heard it called that for a while,” replies the driver. “Most people call it The Bay now.”
As they drive along, Bernie the ex-con (Robert Gwilym) asks: “Isn’t that Gillespie’s warehouse?” “That ain’t no warehouse chief,” corrects the cabbie. “It’s 48 new bijou pied-à-terres, or that’s what the estate agent calls them. And there’s the old canal. Looks more like Venice now of course . . .”
Yes, we’re in Cardiff Bay in the 1990s. The docklands setting as a cradle for the hopes and fears of a changing community, rooted in the past but looking to the future, and all that guff – in other words, a neighbourhood where yuppies rub up against doleys and everyone’s either on the up-and-up or the down-and-out.
Before the first episode is over we’ve even seen that staple of wealth-gap: a key dragged across the paintwork of a shiny new BMW.
“Things are starting to move round here, Beth,” big-shot Roy (Martin Troakes) tells his rival in the restaurant business. “Wait till that barrage is finished, things will really start motoring. There won’t be a chicken or a basket in sight”.
It turns out Roy and ex-con Bernie are brothers, and Roy isn’t above heavy business, putting the squeeze on a yuppie with unexplained debts to him.
It’s a sign of the times that the yuppie character is Asian, but four inter-racial marriages (plus two inter-generational relationships) is overdoing the contemporary credentials a bit.
The initial planned 13 episode run was confidently predicted by all concerned to blossom into a full-blown soap a la EastEnders. But this was not to be and Tiger Bay vanished without a trace after only six aired episodes.