Set against the backdrop of a swinging sixties London we haven’t seen: an East End world where far right fascism is on the rise, Ridley Road tells the story of Vivien Epstein (Aggi O’Casey), a young Jewish woman who after falling in love with a member of the ‘62 Group’, 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.
Based on the novel by Jo Bloom, Ridley Road was written by Sally Solemani who, according to a BBC press release, undertook extensive research into the period. “Britain’s relationship with fascism is closer and more alive than we like to think. Luckily, so is our rich heritage of fighting it. Jo Bloom’s gripping book revealed a darker side of sixties London and the staggering contribution the Jewish community made in the battle against racism. I am thrilled to be working with RED and the BBC to bring this little-known slice of British history to the screen,” said Solemani.
Ridley Road follows Vivien as she goes undercover into the NSM, a neo-Nazi movement which is becoming increasingly prominent in London. The deeper Vivien descends into the fascist organization, the more her courage and loyalties are challenged.
Inspired by the struggle of the 62 Group, a coalition of Jewish men who stood up against rising neo-Nazism in post-war Britain, Vivien is working with them when she realizes that Jack, her missing boyfriend (Tom Varey) has been badly injured.
Newcomers Aggi O’Casey and Tom Varey will be joined by a number of familiar faces such as Rory Kinnear (Penny Dreadful), Tracy-Ann Oberman (It’s a Sin), Eddie Marsan (The Pact), Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders, New Tricks), Samantha Spiro (Game of Thrones), Danny Hatchard (EastEnders), and Rita Tushingham (Doctor Zhivago).
Ridley Road on Masterpiece premieres Sunday, May 1 as part of PBS’s Drama Sunday.