Yellowthread Street

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Yellowthread Street
Title card
Developed byRanald Graham
Directed byRoger Cheveley
Syd Macartney
Gerry Mill
Ian Stuttard
Tim Dowd
StarringRay Lonnen
Doreen Chan
Bruce Payne
Robert Taylor
Tzi Ma
Mark McGann
Catherine Neilson
Theme music composerRoger Bellon
Opening theme"Yellowthread Street"
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes13 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Keith Richardson
Producer(s)Ranald Graham
Production location(s)Hong Kong
Editor(s)Paul Martin Smith
Running time50 minutes
Production company(s)Yorkshire Television
Original networkITV
Picture format4:3
Audio formatStereo
Original release13 January (1990-01-13) – 7 April 1990 (1990-04-07)

Yellowthread Street is a British television police drama, first broadcast in 1990, that focuses on the work of a group of detectives in the Royal Hong Kong Police. Developed and produced by Ranald Graham, the series was loosely based on the novels by William Leonard Marshall. A single series of thirteen episodes was produced by Yorkshire Television and broadcast on ITV from 13 January to 7 April 1990.[1] The series starred Ray Lonnen as principal character Alex Vale, with Bruce Payne, Robert Taylor, Tzi Ma, Mark McGann and Catherine Neilson also appearing as detectives in the series.[2]

The series was well received by viewers and critics alike, despite only lasting one series. However, the series also received negative press, with Matters Criminous stating that "The series chiefest goal seemed to have been to explore just how very badly a dramatisation can corrupt and befoul the ideas and characters of a book."[3] The series was also celebrated for the use of new state of the art technology involved with the production, including becoming one of the first series on British television to be filmed in Stereo.[4] The Daily Mail stated that at the time of broadcast, the series' cult following lead to an unexpected wave of purchases of Hi-Fi Stereo speakers. Notably, the series has never been released on DVD.[5]


In the Yellowthread Street novels, the detectives of the Yellowthread Street police station are based in the fictitious Hong Bay, Hong Kong.[6] Four principal characters are featured in the novels: DCI Harry Feiffer, a European-born detective raised in Hong Kong; Senior Inspector Christopher O'Yee, a half-Chinese, half-Caucasian American; and the ever-bickering team of Inspectors Auden and Spencer, who attempt to find the rational basis for inexplicable and seemingly bizarre crimes.

One of the most notable novels is 1988's Out of Nowhere, in which DCI Feiffer must figure out why in the pre-dawn hours, four people in a plate-glass-filled van with Chinese Opera blaring out the tape deck were driving on the wrong side of a deserted motorway, miles from the nearest on-ramp, before dying in a violent collision with an oncoming lorry.[7] Sixteen novels were published between 1975 and 1998: Yellowthread Street (1975), The Hatchet Man (1976), Gelignite (1976), Thin Air (1977), Skulduggery (1979), Sci-fi (1981), Perfect End (1981), War Machine (1982), The Far Away Man (1984), Roadshow (1985), Head First (1986), Frogmouth (1987), Out of Nowhere (1988), Inches (1994), Nightmare Syndrome (1997) and To The End (1998).


Recurring Cast

  • Kenny Chan as Detective Chan
  • Diego Swing as Frankie Ku
  • Ming-Yang Li as Blind Beggar
  • Christopher Leung as Szi Tai
  • Winnie Tang as Jei


Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate
1"Power Play"David WilksIan Studdard13 January 1990 (1990-01-13)
2"The Lost Man"Eric WendellRoger Cheveley20 January 1990 (1990-01-20)
3"Key Witness"Robert HammondSyd McCartney27 January 1990 (1990-01-27)
4"Middleman"David WilksRoger Cheveley3 February 1990 (1990-02-03)
5"Angel Eyes"Lawrence GraySyd McCartney10 February 1990 (1990-02-10)
6"Fan Tan Man"Steve BurnsRoger Cheveley17 February 1990 (1990-02-17)
7"Rummy's Cut"Claude HarzGerry Mill24 February 1990 (1990-02-24)
8"Spirit Runner"William MarshallGerry Mill3 March 1990 (1990-03-03)
9"The Red Pole"Steve BurnsIan Studdard10 March 1990 (1990-03-10)
10"Chinese Boxes"Phil O'SheaIan Studdard17 March 1990 (1990-03-17)
11"Slicing the Dragon"Robert HammondSyd McCartney24 March 1990 (1990-03-24)
12"Big Circle"Steve BurnsGerry Mill31 March 1990 (1990-03-31)
13"I Knew a Man"Lawrence GrayTim Dowd7 April 1990 (1990-04-07)


External links[edit]