The four-part thriller Ridley Road, adapted for BBC One and PBS Masterpiece by award-winning writer Sarah Solemani, from the critically acclaimed novel by Jo Bloom, has gone into production.
Ridley Road tells the story of a young Jewish woman, Vivien Epstein, played by Aggi O’Casey, in her first television role. After falling for a member of the 62 Group, she rejects her comfortable middle-class life in Manchester and joins the fight against fascism in London, risking everything for her beliefs and for the man she loves.
“Sarah Solemani has blown me away with the detail, sensitivity, and complexity with which she has written Vivien. I can’t wait to bring this vital and little-known story to life.” – Aggi O’Casey
Vivien is working with the 62 Group, a coalition of Jewish men who stood up against rising neo-Nazism in post-war Britain, when she realises that Jack, her missing boyfriend (played by Varey) has been badly injured.
Vivian infiltrates the NSM, a neo-Nazi movement which is becoming ever more prominent in the capital. As Vivien descends further into the fascist organisation her courage and loyalties are challenged.
“I’m so proud to be working on such a powerful, beautiful, important story. The scripts are amazing, and I can’t wait to bring them to life. I’m excited to be in the company of actors that I have looked up to and admired for so long.” – Tom Varey
Rory Kinnear plays Colin Jordan, leader of neo Nazi movement NSM, who, through his fanatical and passionate speeches, incites racism and rioting. Eddie Marsan is cast as hot headed, sharp-witted cab driver Soly Malinovsky – leader of anti-fascist organisation 62 Group.
“A young hairdresser from Manchester makes an unlikely hero in this little known slice of British history. But in these unprecedented times, it is the unlikely heroes whose stories are now worth telling. Britain’s relationship with fascism is closer and more alive than we like to think. Fortunately, so too is our rich heritage of beating it. Honoured to bring the story of Ridley Road to the BBC and Masterpiece.” – Sarah Colemani, Writer
Tracy-Ann Oberman takes on the role of Soly’s wife Nancy, a smooth operator who plays a crucial role in the 62 Group operations; Samantha Spiro plays Vivien’s mother, Liza Epstein, whose life dramatically changes when she learns of her husband’s secret involvement with the underground movement; Tamzin Outhwaite stars as Barbara Watson, the owner of a salon where Vivien gets a job and who has witnessed racism first-hand towards her mixed-race son.
Rita Tushingham plays Nettie Jones, Vivien’s landlady in London. Although self-sufficient, she is lonely after her three sons were killed in WW11 and is afraid of the pace of the changes happening around her. Danny Hatchard plays Lee, Colin Jordan’s driver. The NSM is family to him, he is loyal to Colin even though the feeling isn’t mutual.
“The adaptation of Jo Bloom’s novel highlights a little-known aspect of Britain’s history. Working with Sarah Solemani has been an absolute pleasure, it is a timely drama which echoes what is happening in today’s society. We couldn’t be prouder to have the series led by two new exciting rising stars in Aggi O’Casey and Tom Varey.” – Nicola Shindler, Executive Producer
Ridley Road is produced by Red Production Company.