Sam and Annie at Vinyl Heaven

Vinyl Heaven is the name of a record shop visited by Sam Tyler and Annie Cartwright in episode one of Life on Mars. According to the shop's sign, it was established in 1964. The shop is typical of its time, if somewhat basic, displaying vinyl record albums in its large front window, selling them out of bins for customers to flip through, and having a sound-proofed booth for customers to listen to an album before buying it.

The shop is entered by a short flight of steps, next to which is a traditional red telephone box, and is next door to Dan's Barber shop.

Plot Importance

The Vinyl Heaven scene is pivotal to the plot of the first episode. It occurs at a moment when Sam Tyler has decided that this world of 1973 is not real, and that he will keep walking until his mind can't invent anymore. Annie tries to dissuade him, but fails, when Sam suddenly spots the record shop and remembers he used to go there. Entering the shop, presumably out of nostalgia, Sam flips through a few records before heading to the listening booth where he realizes that the sound-proofing material on the walls explains how the killer keeps his victims quiet without gagging them. Vinyl Heaven is therefore a turning point in Sam's belief in (or commitment to) his new surroundings as well as in the murder investigation and the race to prevent another victim.

Behind the Scenes

The Vinyl Heaven scene was shot in Manchester at the corner of Turner and Kelvin Streets, across from the entrance to Red Lion Street. It appears that the barber shop, though empty at the time of filming, had been an actual business at one time. While most of the surrounding scenery was appropriate for 1973 Manchester, clever digital compositing was used for a 360-degree pan which would have otherwise revealed a very modern car park across the street. This location was also used for a number of promotional photos apparently shot during filming, as well as other posed shots that included John Simm, Liz White, Phil Glenister and the Cortina.

It's interesting to note that shortly after filming, this entire corner was demolished and replaced with a modern, tasteful office building (the Margolis building) which incorporates three restored weavers' cottages. This blend of old and new not only echoes themes in Life on Mars, but might stand as a symbol of modern Manchester.


  • Sam mentions that he bought his first record at Vinyl Heaven: Cars by Gary Numan. Presumably he is referring to a single, since the song appeared on the album The Pleasure Principle.
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