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Tiger Bay

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.

Bernie Hutchinson
Robert Gwilym
Francine Morgan
Jan Anderson
Roy Hutchinson
Martin Troakes
Rakie Ayola
Dan Monks
Martin Cole
Karin Diamond
Peter Doran
Mike Hayward
Clare Isaac
Suzanne Packer
Mark Protheroe
Giles Thomas
Lil Protheroe
Stevie Parry
Nickie Rainsford
Richard Harrington
Tanveer Ghani