Home Television Drama Yellowthread Street

Yellowthread Street

1 9 9 0 (UK)
13 x 60 minute episodes

This lavish Yorkshire Television (ITV) production was based on a book by former Hong Kong journalist William Marshall and revolved around the Triad-busting cases of a group of Royal Hong Kong Police Force detectives, based in the colony’s Yellowthread precinct.

To ensure a trouble-free shoot, the British and Cantonese film crews usually had to pay someone wherever they set up their cameras – mostly a street-by-street arrangement amounting to as little as £20.

There was also a “feng shui” man who chased away the evil spirits with sacrificial roast pigs and incense – not for the benefit of the 50 British crew but for the 160 local technicians who followed the 4000-year old tradition.

The series never really caught on despite the exotic setting and expensive production (the series was shot on 35mm film). The show also seemed caught between two eras: conceived in the 1980s and produced at the turn of that decade, its philosophy and look seemed a little dated compared to other modern shows of the genre (The Bill for example).

A clearly uncomfortable cast – including Ray Lonnen from Harry’s Game and The Sandbaggers, Mark McGann and Bruce Payne – seemed to have been selected for looks rather than screen gravitas. Throwaway plots did not help.

CI Alex Vale
Ray Lonnen
Detective Kelly Lang
Catherine Neilson
Detective C J Brady
Mark McGann
Detective Eddie Pak
Tzi Ma
Detective Jackie Wu
Doreen Chan
Detective Peter Marenta
Robert Taylor
Detective Nick Eden
Bruce Payne