Further cast includes Rory Kinnear, Tamzin Outhwaite, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Eddie Marsan, Samantha Spiro and Rita Tushingham.
The 4x60' thriller Ridley Road, adapted for BBC One and PBS Masterpiece by award-winning writer Sarah Solemani (Barry, Aphrodite Fry), from the critically acclaimed novel by Jo Bloom, has gone into production.
Bringing together an award-winning cast including Rory Kinnear, Tamzin Outhwaite, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Eddie Marsan, Samantha Spiro, Rita Tushingham, Danny Hatchard and Tom 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, Vivien is working 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.
Aggi O’Casey says: “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.”
Playing Jack Morris, Tom Varey, says: “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.”
Rory Kinnear (Years And Years) 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.
Taking on the role, Rory says: “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 (Ray Donovan) is cast as hot headed, sharp-witted cab driver Soly Malinovsky - leader of anti-fascist organisation 62 Group. Marsan says: “‘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.”
Further cast includes:
Tracy-Ann Oberman (Friday Night Dinner) joins as Soly’s wife Nancy, a smooth operator who plays a crucial role in the 62 Group operations.
Samantha Spiro (Sex Education) is Vivien’s mother, Liza Epstein. Her life is about to dramatically change when she learns of her husband’s secret involvement with the underground movement.
Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders) 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.
Rita Tushingham (The Pale Horse) 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 (EastEnders) plays Lee, Colin Jordan’s driver. The NSM is family to him, he is loyal to Colin even though the feeling isn’t mutual.
Writer, Sarah Solemani, says: “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.”