4 x 60 thriller Ridley Road, adapted for BBC One and PBS MASTERPIECE by writer Sarah Solemani (Barry, Aphrodite Fry), from the novel by Jo Bloom, has gone into production.
The cast includes Rory Kinnear, Tamzin Outhwaite, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Eddie Marsan, Samantha Spiro, Rita Tushingham, Danny Hatchard andTom Varey. Ridley Road tells the story of a young Jewish woman, Vivien Epstein played by Aggi O’Casey, in her first television role. After falling in love with 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.
Inspired by the struggle of the ‘62 Group’, a coalition of Jewish men who stood up against rising neo-Nazism in post-war Britain, Ridley Road sees Vivien starting to work with them when she realises that Jack, her missing boyfriend (played by Varey) has been badly injured. Vivien infiltrates the NSM, a neo-Nazi movement which is becoming increasingly prominent in London. As Vivien descends further into the fascist organisation her courage and loyalties are challenged.
Writer, Sarah Solemani, said: “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.”
Ayela Butt, BBC Commissioning Executive, said: “Sarah’s brilliant scripts have drawn together an extraordinary ensemble cast of some the finest actors in the UK and we are delighted to have exciting new talent, Aggi O’Casey, in the lead role. We are thrilled to be working with RED to tell this hugely compelling and inspiring story about an ordinary woman risking everything to fight against fascism.”
Nicola Shindler, executive producer said: “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.”
Rebecca Eaton, Executive Producer-at-Large for MASTERPIECE added, “We are especially proud to partner with Nicola at RED and with BBC One on Ridley Road. A compelling story of love and resistance is as important now as it ever was in the turbulent 1960s. A well-told drama illuminates past and present as little else can.”
Ridley Road is a RED Production Company, a STUDIOCANAL Company production commissioned for BBC One by Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content and Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama and and co-produced with MASTERPIECE. The 4×60-minute drama adaption is written, and executive produced by Sarah Solemani and Nicola Shindler and Ayela Butt and Lucy Richer for BBC. Series producer is Betsan Morris Evans (The War of the Worlds, The City and the City, NW) and Lisa Mulcahy (Years and Years, Blood) directs all four episodes. International rights handled by STUDIOCANAL