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Eastenders Goes Upmarket as Our Market Goes West

February 25, 2014

Is Leeds Kirkgate Market the “Albert square” of the North?

You don’t need to watch TV to catch the latest drama of traders versus council in Leeds’ own Kirkgate Market soap opera.

But if you do tune in to Eastenders you would be forgiven for confusing fact and fiction as the traders in the popular Walford market that have been at the centre of the series and Albert Square community for decades are in danger of being evicted as the area is forced to become more gentrified.

The similarities could not be more uncanny:

  • Council trying to get away with stuff without people noticing
  • Council organising a meeting at short notice knowing that it will be difficult for traders to attend.
  • Bad management – trying to trick traders and refusing to give respect and answer questions
  • Generations of traders’ livelihoods being dismantled
  • Traders and community standing up for their rights.
  •  Street market in the way of modernisation and progress

The Eastenders set is now seen as outmoded as it does not reflect the gentrifying of this area of London and the “Shoreditch effect” that is attracting hipsters to the area. And for the new editors of the series, Walford Market is clearly standing in the way of this necessary “change”. The Guardian, in a parody of how to “modernise” Eastenders, hits on what it actually looks like Leeds City Council’s plan to bring Leeds Kirkgate Market in line with the “Victoria Gate” effect… Just replace Walford with Kirkgate:

Make the market middle class

With its old-skool stalls and single mums in silver puffa jackets, Walford market is outmoded and off-message. Bring it bang on-trend by relaunching as a farmer’s market selling line-caught fish, artisan cheeses, rustic loaves and organic veg covered in mud. Add a street food van, doing pulled pork and cronuts. Winston’s CD stall could deal in rare vinyl, while Kat ‘n’ Bianca’s naff fashion emporium could peddle tastefully curated vintage pieces. Brunch and browse!


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