The four-part drama, an adaptation of Jo Bloom's critically acclaimed novel by Sarah Solemani, explores the rise of fascism in 1960s London.
The cast includes Rory Kinnear, Tamzin Outhwaite, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Eddie Marsan, Samantha Spiro, Rita Tushingham, Danny Hatchard Tom Varey and television newcomer Aggi O’Casey.
Ridley Road is a thriller 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.
When Vivien Epstein, a young Jewish woman falls in love with a member of the '62 group' she follows her lover into danger, rejecting her comfortable middle-class life in Manchester to join 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 caught between life and death. As she starts to work with them, she realises that her missing boyfriend Jack has been badly injured.
Vivien infiltrates the NSM, a neo-Nazi movement which is becoming increasingly prominent in London. As she descends further into the fascist organisation her courage and loyalties are challenged.
Talking about bringing Ridley Road to the small screen, 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.”
On playing Vivien Epstein, her first television role, Aggi O’Casey said "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."
And Tom Varey, who plays her missing boyfriend Jack Morris, added "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."
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 plays Barbara Watson, the owner of a hair salon where Vivien gets a job. She has witnessed racism first-hand towards her mixed-race son.
And 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.
Rory Kinnear plays Colin Jordan leader of neo-Nazi movement, NSM. An imposing and forthright activist who through his fanatical and passionate speeches incites racism and rioting.
Joining Rory to play Colin's driver Lee is Danny Hatchard. The NSM is family to him and even though the feeling isn’t mutual, he is loyal to Colin.
Talking about his latest role, Rory said "When I received the scripts from Red Production Company, I was already looking forward to working with them again. Sarah’s scripts had me hooked and to work with so many interesting characters is something that was hugely appealing. I can’t wait to get started."
Eddie Marsan plays Soly Malinovsky, a hot headed, sharp-witted cab driver who is the leader of anti-fascist organisation '62 Group'.
Talking about how timely the drama is, Marsan said "I'm honoured to be playing the role of Soly, the leader of the '62 Group' of Jewish anti-fascists who took on the National Socialist Movement in Ridley Road."
"In recent years anti-Semitism has re-emerged and now, more than ever we need to hear the stories of how normal men and women put their lives on the line to stamp out this cancer."
And last, but definitely not least, Tracy-Ann Oberman plays Soly's wife Nancy, a smooth operator who plays a crucial role in the '62 Group' operations.
Executive producer Nicola Shindler 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."
Whilst 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 will air in 2021 on BBC One