Keeley Hawes, Toby Stephens, Linus Roache and Timothy Spall lead the cast of Poliakoff's semi-autobiographical six-part series, Summer of Rockets.
Set in the UK during the Cold War period and tumultuous year of 1958, fear and excitement of the future permeates the lives of all.
Set against the backdrop of Britain testing its first hydrogen bomb, the Prime Minister declaring that “most of our people have never had it so good”, the Soviets launching their first ballistic missile and beating the Americans by successfully sending a Satellite into space, the series written and directed by the multi-award-winning Stephen Poliakoff will offer a personal insight into this unforgettable time in British history, through a lens very close to his heart.
Samuel, played by Toby Stephens (Lost In Space), is a 40 something Russian Jewish émigré, inventor and designer of bespoke hearing aids, whose clients include former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. The series follows Samuel and his family, wife Miriam and children Hannah and Sasha, as he is approached by MI5 to demonstrate his work.
Yet it is not his inventions the operatives require - instead Samuel is tasked with the secret mission of obtaining information about his charming, newly acquired friends Kathleen, played by Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty) and her husband Richard Shaw MP, played by Linus Roache (Vikings).
Through them, Samuel also meets the impressive Lord Arthur Wallington, played by Timothy Spall (Mr Turner, The Street). As Samuel’s life becomes more and more intertwined with his mission, how far is he willing to let things unravel for his cause? And who can he truly trust?
Speaking about taking on the role of Samuel, Toby Stephens says “It’s great to be working with Stephen Poliakoff again after such a long time. I loved working with him on Perfect Strangers; he’s such a unique and original voice in British television. It’s also good to be filming something back home in the UK for the BBC. It’s been a while.”
Keeley Hawes spoke about playing Kathleen adding “I have wanted to work with Stephen for years, so I’m delighted to be part of such a wonderful cast, and can’t wait to spend the summer with them all.”
Linus Roache says “I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen’s work for many years so I’m thrilled to get to work with him and on such a brilliantly intricate exploration of Britain’s struggle for identity in the 1950s. That might be 60 years ago now but Stephen’s story provides a fascinating reflection of the kind of intrigue and mistrust we find ourselves in the midst of again in the world today. I love it when historical drama feels almost shockingly relevant.”
And Timothy Spall says: “I’m utterly delighted to be working with Stephen for the third time. As ever, the scripts are wonderful, the story is completely original and totally compelling and surprising, as is the gallery of fascinating characters. Stephen has assembled a fantastic cast as he always does. A few of whom I have worked with in the past, I’m greatly looking forward to being part of this wonderful and unique television drama.”
Also starring in Summer of Rockets will be Lily Sacofsky (Bancroft) as Samuel’s daughter Hannah; Lucy Cohu (Ripper Street) as his wife Miriam; Gary Beadle (Grantchester) as his right-hand man Courtney; Mark Bonnar (Line of Duty) as Field; Ronald Pickup (The Crown) as Walter and Rose Ayling-Ellis (Reverberations) as Hannah’s friend Esther.
Further casting includes Greg Austin, Jordan Coulson, Matthew James Thomas and Fode Simbo with further cast yet to be announced.