TV & Movies

BBC Drama Ridley Road Is Based On A Real-Life Anti-Facist Group

But that doesn’t mean it’s a true story.

Vivien Epstein (AGNES O'CASEY)
BBC/Red Productions/Ben Blackall

BBC’s new drama Ridley Road dramatises the work of a group of anti-fascists who stood up against the neo-Nazi movement in Britain after World War Two.

Set in 1962, Ridley Road follows Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey), a young Jewish woman, gets a job at a hair salon where she gets involved in London’s anti-fascist movement. Epstein later becomes a spy in the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi organisation set up by the far-right Colin Jordan (Rory Kinnear).

The series has four hour-long episodes, and will see Epstein putting herself in jeopardy to fight the far-right.Ridley Road is based on a book by Jo Bloom, which was released in 2014.

Some of the events depicted in Ridley Road are based on true events, but Epstein is not based on a real person.

Additionally, screenwriter Sarah Solemani has explained that Ridley Road’s importance has only grown in the context of the rise of the far-right and anti-semitism. She told the Financial Times: “The tragedy was that with every year that passed, the themes of the show became more and more relevant. It became urgent to get it out.”

The anti-fascist group that O’Casey’s character is a part of, the 62 Group, did exist in 1960s London. John Colin Campbell Jordan, who is played by Rory Kinnear, is also real and it was his attempt to hold a nationalist rally in Trafalgar Square in 1962 that sparked the creation of the 62 Group.

The series will star Agnes O’Casey as Vivien, Eddie Marsan as Soly Malinovsky, Tracy An Oberman as Nancy Malinovsky, Tamzin Outhwaite as Barbara Watson, Rory Kinnear as Colin Jordan, Gabriel Akuwudike as Stevie, and Tom Varey as Jack Morris.

The series will air on BBC One on Sunday October 3 at 9pm, and be available to stream on BBC iPlayer too.