Ridley Road: when is BBC series on TV, who is in cast with Tom Varey, what is it about, and what’s 62 Group?

The drama, based on Jo Bloom’s book by the same name, is about the rise of neo-Nazis and fascism in the 1960s

Ridley Road is based on the anti-fascist movement in London in the sixties, fronted by 62 Group (Picture: BBC)

The BBC’s latest Sunday night drama, Ridley Road, has proven another hit for the broadcaster as it rides the high of Vigil, Time and The North Water.

Based on British author Jo Bloom’s novel by the same name, Ridley Road tells the story of the rise of fascism in London in the 1960s and the ‘62 Group’ who fought against the far-right movement.

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So, who stars in the series, what is the plot and when is it on TV? This is everything you need to know.

What is Ridley Road about?

The official BBC synopsis reads: “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 follows her lover into danger and he is caught between life and death, she finds herself going undercover with the fascists, not only for him but for the sake of her country.”

The series is set in Hackney and follows the unlikely relationship between Vivien, a middle-class Jewish hairdresser who leaves her comfortable life in Manchester to pursue her love for Mancuian Jack, as the devoted member of anti-fascist movement ‘62 Group’.

Vivien goes undercover in a bid to trace and protect Jack (Picture: BBC)

When Jack, who is fighting against the neo-Nazi resurgence goes missing, Vivien goes undercover as a neo-Nazi, infiltrating the movement in an attempt to bring down the movement.

What is 62 Group?

Ridley Road is based on a real-life anti-fascist group, 62 Group, named after the year in which it was formed.

The group was formed in London by Soho nightclub owner Harry Bidley, following the rise of Nazism in the early 1960s

It was a militant broad-based coalition of anti-fascists and its actions and values were based on the post-war 43 Group.

They fought back against the creation of Colin Jordan’s National Socialist Movement.

A flyer for a fascist NSM rally in Hackney in 1962 (Picture: Hackney History)

Executive Producer Sarah Solemani wrote the storyline in the wake of rising far-right shifts in recent years.

She told the BBC: “I think this story is an important one to tell because the dilemma of 1962 is still one that we’re grappling with now. Which is, why are people drawn to the far right?

“What is it about that ideology and rhetoric that is still appealing, so many years on? Not just in England, but in America, Eastern Europe, India, Brazil, it’s something that has had a surge of popularity.

“It isn’t enough to identify these people as monsters or stupid. We have to work a bit harder in understanding the logic behind this worldview.”

Who stars in the cast of Ridley Road?

Vivien Epstein is played by Agnes O’Casey, who makes her TV debut in the leading role for Ridley Road.

She previously starred in a string of stage productions, going by her nickname ‘Aggi’, she is the granddaughter of Irish dramatist Seán O’Casey.

Agnes O’Casey makes her TV debut as Vivien Epstein (Picture: BBC)

Her love interest, Jack Morris, is played by Tom Varey, who viewers might recognise from his previous roles in Ackley Bridge and Game of Thrones.

Olivier Award winning screenwriter and actor Rory Kinnear stars as Colin Jordan, leader of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM). He leads the violent, riotous neo-Nazi movement.

Game Of Throne’s actor Tom Varey plays the role of Jack, a devoted anti-fascist supporter and member of 62 Group (Picture: BBC)

Cab driver and leader of 62 Group is Soly Malinovsky, played by Eddie Marsan. Marsan won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film Happy-Go-Lucky.

Code 404 actress Tracy-Ann Oberman plays Soly’s glamorous, no nonsense wife Nancy.

Me Before You and Sex Education actress Samantha Spiro plays the worried mother of Vivien, Liza Epstein. Will Keen (His Dark Materials) plays David, Liza’s husband and Vivien’s father, who is involved in some questionable dealings which he goes to great lengths to hide from his family.

Samantha Spiro as drawn-out mother of Vivien, Liza (Picture: BBC)

Also in the cast is Tamzin Outhwaite as Vivien’s boss Barbara and her on-screen son is played by 1917 actor Gabriel Akuwudike.

Ridley Road also stars Rita Tushingham as Vivien’s landlady in London, who is grieving the loss of her three sons in WWII.

When is Ridley Road on TV?

The four-part series began on Sunday 3 October at 9pm on BBC One.

Episodes two to four will air across consecutive Sundays at 9pm on BBC One.

All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer shortly after being shown on TV.