Mary Queen of the High Street

Episode Guides

Mary Portas wants to revive Britain's failing high streets, putting local people at the heart of the solution

About the Show

Mary Portas wants to revive Britain's failing high streets, putting local people at the heart of the solution

Series 1 Summary

No stranger to controversy, this new series shows Mary Portas sticking her head above the parapet, as she fights for Britain's failing high streets.

With over 100 shops closing a week, is it high noon for the high street? Mary thinks not, so she took on the challenge of coming up with a 28-point plan, the Portas Review, to help breathe new life into the high street.

She always knew there was no quick fix and it would be far from easy, but she also knew that getting communities involved in Town Teams, and passing some power back to local people, was at the heart of any possible solution.

What she didn't expect were the rash of press headlines, bust-ups and the frustrations aplenty.

There are now 400 towns and Town Teams across the country putting Mary's ideas into practice. This three-part series tells the story of three of them.

  • Mary Queen of the High Street

    Episode 1 - Roman Road, East London

    Mary is at Roman Road in London's East End. Despite investment pouring into the area for the Olympics, the shops of the Roman Road market are not reaping the benefits.

    Mary wants to revitalise the market, but some existing stallholders are sceptical about her vision.

    She wants to create a destination for street food and create 'anchors' - destination shopping spots - at either end of the street to help draw in shoppers. She thinks Jeanette's Junk Shop has the potential to be an anchor, but does Jeanette agree?

  • Mary Queen of the High Street

    Episode 2 - Margate

    Mary Portas tries to inject new life into Margate's high street, with the help of artist Tracy Emin, an inland pier and a cut-price deal for the London to Margate daytripper

    Margate's high street has suffered terribly in recent years, with one in four shops closing down. However, it's not all doom and gloom. The £17 million Turner Gallery has been a roaring success, attracting up to 10,000 visitors a week. Mary believes there might be an opportunity to capitalise on this existing footfall, if only visitors could be encouraged up the high street.

    Mary comes up with the idea of an inland pier, bringing the traditional attractions of a pleasure pier into the heart of the high street.

    Mary also focuses her attention on local shop owner Billy, whose sweet shop has lost some of its shine over the years. She calls upon Margate's most famous artist, Tracy Emin, to assist in coming up with a new branding for the shop.

    She also encourages the rail company to slash the price of the London to Margate daytripper ticket.


  • Mary Queen of the High Street

    Episode 3 - Cornwall

    Mary travels to Liskeard in Cornwall, where her usual rocket pace and direct approach meets the laid-back Cornish attitude to life. But will this combination bring success or cause fireworks?

    Liskeard is a market town, 20 miles inland from Plymouth, that has been an important cattle market since medieval times, with the high street filled with busy shops.

    However, in 2001 the foot and mouth crisis devastated Liskeard's cattle market. On top of this, a large out-of-town supermarket has been luring customers away.

    Mary believes that Liskeard's high street needs to make the most of its locally produced quality food, as a way of differentiating itself from the supermarket. She is delighted to find three excellent local food shops - a butcher, a greengrocer and a fishmonger. But her suggestion of producing a joint delivery box takes a considerable time to sort out. They also venture into pie making.

    Mary suggests the town sets up a 'town shop' - a mix of business and social activities all under the one roof, run by the local people. But with town team members drawn from very different walks of life, and with very different views about how to run things, it's not all plain sailing...

Mary Queen of the High Street synopsis

Mary Portas wants to revive Britain's failing high streets, putting local people at the heart of the solution

Episode Guide >