Empire Road – Wedding

Photos from Janice Rider, no reproduction without permission.

The wedding episode of the black soap opera, ‘Empire Road’ was transmitted on 25 October 1979, it seems to be the final episode.  It was directed by Horace Ove, written by Michael Abbensetts, and produced at Pebble Mill by Peter Ansorge.  Janice Rider was the costume designer.

Norman Beaton played Everton, Corinne Skinner-Carter played Hortense, Wayne Laryea played Marcus.

The photos include publicity stills, polaroids taken for continuity reasons and the original drawn design for the wedding dress.



Empire Road – Radio Times













‘Radio Times’ front cover from 1976, courtesy of Janice Rider, who was the costume designer on ‘Empire Road’.

‘Empire Road’ was the first black soap opera in Britain.  It was produced at Pebble Mill by Peter Ansorge.  It was written by Michael Abbensetts, and starred Norman Beaton.

‘Empire Road’ was shot in Studio A, and on location in Handsworth.

Empire Road – Janice Rider


Video interview with costume designer Janice Rider, about working on the drama series: Empire Road.  Empire Road was produced at Pebble Mill by Peter Ansorge and written by Michael Abbensetts.  It was the first soap opera in Britain with a black and asian cast, starring Norman Beaton.

Radio Times 1979

A Touch of Eastern Promise 1973 – Tara Prem

A Touch of Eastern Promise 1973














I’m half Indian, so I was always very anxious to reflect what I saw when I went up to Birmingham.  I wrote a film called A Touch of Eastern Promise, because when I went there I realised there were loads and loads of Indian people, not probably as many as there are now, but nothing was being done about it, and there weren’t any writers.  So Barry was script editor, because I said I wanted to write something, so I did and that was the first thing on British television ever to have an entirely Asian cast.  So I felt very proud about that as well.  But that also spun on to other things.  Michael Abbensetts came and wrote Empire Road, which Peter [Ansorge] produced, and I do think that it was quite new then, but it was very, very apparent in Birmingham – it opened a door really.   In a way it’s what Peter and I are still kicking at the same door of thirty years later.  It’s a bit sad in a way. But it was rather good that we had that opportunity.  So those sort of things I do feel quite proud of.  I do think it kicked open a door.

Tara Prem

(Excerpt from an interview with Tara Prem recorded in summer 2009 by Vanessa Jackson and Olivia Swinscoe from Birmingham City University).

A Touch of Eastern Promise was recorded in Balsall Heath Birmingham.  Michael Lindsay-Hogg was the director, David Rose the producer, Barry Hanson the script editor, Tara Prem the writer.  Mike Williams was the cameraman and Oliver White the film editor.

The cast included Dev Sagoo as Mohan, a young Indian boy who dreams of film stars, and in particular ‘Shalini’, who is coming to perform in Birmingham.  Jamila Massey played Shalini, Zareen Kamal played Lata, K.S. Matharu played Balraj Kumari, and Charan Kaur Matharu – Mrs Kumari.

Empire Road

Empire Road from pebblemill on Vimeo.

Producer Peter Ansorge and writer Michael Abbensetts talking about the 1978-9 series ‘Empire Road’.  ‘Empire Road’ was the first and only black soap opera on British television.  It was recorded in Pebble Mill Studio A, and on location in Handsworth.  It starred Norman Beaton as Everton Bennett.  Two series of ‘Empire Road’ were made, comprising 16 episodes in all.