Good Morning Dagenham: Market’s owner aiming to showcase industry on BBC documentary

Dagenham Sunday Market owner Frank Nash, front, with some of the film crew. Picture: Frank Nash

Dagenham Sunday Market owner Frank Nash, front, with some of the film crew. Picture: Frank Nash - Credit: Frank Nash

The first episode in a 10-part documentary series about Dagenham Sunday Market is set to air today (Monday).

The light-hearted series, called Good Morning Dagenham, follows the market crew each week as they put on a different event to increase visitor numbers and drive sales.

Frank Nash, the market’s owner, said viewers can expect a bit of fun and lots of characters. He highlighted Tony the butcher who comes from “a family of comedians” and Scottish stall owner Bill Watson for special mention.

He said: “You wouldn’t think a guy who sold gravestones was so funny.”

The series began as a 10-minute documentary short made by James Quinn, who was then head of special projects at Oxford Film and Television.

The show wasn’t picked up but the idea stuck with Quinn. He couldn’t forget the lively atmosphere he had found at the market and four years later he was given a chance to revisit it.

Frank said of the market: “Everyone just gets on, no one cares about your colour or where you come from. It’s like a family.”

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Having run a stall selling fabric at the market, he took over the market’s couple of hundred stalls in 1985, when he was 25.

Today it is Britain’s biggest open air market, with more than 600 stalls.

Several familiar faces appear in the series including former Gogglebox star Sandra Martin and Jane Devonshire, the 2016 winner of Masterchef, who visits to judge the award for the market’s best burger and patty.

In spite of its humour, there is a serious side to the show. The series candidly explores the diminishing place of the market in retail against the “threat from the internet.”

Frank sees the events they put on, including a dog show and a cockney knees up event, as experiments in growing numbers.

He wanted to try something new because traditional ideas to drum up interest and push sales hadn’t worked. The documentary itself is part of this effort.

He said about the documentary: “I haven’t done it so I can be on Strictly Come Dancing, I’ve done it so I can increase footfall.

“I’m hoping to showcase not just Dagenham Sunday Market but also markets as an industry.”

The first episode of Good Morning Dagenham airs on BBC One today (Monday) at 11am. All episodes will be on BBC iPlayer.