The BBC have announced the cast for upcoming drama Ridley Road, adapted for BBC One 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.”
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.”
Ayela Butt, BBC Commissioning Executive, says: “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.”