The Gallows Pole: BBC Two release date, trailer, and cast of Cragg Vale Coiners drama with Michael Socha

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Michael Socha stars in The Gallow Pole, a new BBC Two drama about the Cragg Vale Coiners from Shane Meadows

The Gallows Pole, a new drama from writer/director Shane Meadows, is coming to BBC Two at the end of May.

The series, which stars This Is England’s Michael Socha and Downton Abbey’s Sophie Mcshera, tells the true story of the Cragg Vale Coiners (a group of 18th century forgers from Yorkshire).  

Here’s everything you need to know about The Gallows Pole.

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What’s it about?

The official BBC Two synopsis for The Gallows Pole explains that “18th Century Yorkshire is a country divided. As the aristocracy are building the first cotton mills and factories, the common people are starving. David Hartley has been away from his family’s remote moor-top dwelling for seven years. On his journey home to Cragg Vale, West Yorkshire, David gets lost in the moors. He’s dragging a mysterious looking bag of tools with him and on his last legs.”

“As he’s about to lay down and die, he is saved by six mythical Stag Men who let him know that his work on earth isn’t done yet. David’s mission is to assemble a gang of weavers and land-workers to embark upon a criminal enterprise to bring comfort and dignity back to his community. Hidden in the wilderness of the Yorkshire hills and dales, their business is ‘clipping’ – the forging of coins, a treasonous offence punishable by death.”

Is The Gallows Pole based on a true story?

Yes, it is! The Gallows Pole is inspired by a book of the same name by the author Ben Meyers, which was itself inspired by the true story of the Cragg Vale Coiners. A lot of the characters in The Gallows Pole, like David Hartley, were real people. 

Who stars in The Gallows Pole?

Michael Socha as David Hartley in The Gallows Pole, flanked by the Stagmen (Credit: BBC/Element Pictures Limited/Objective Feedback LLC/Dean Rogers)Michael Socha as David Hartley in The Gallows Pole, flanked by the Stagmen (Credit: BBC/Element Pictures Limited/Objective Feedback LLC/Dean Rogers)
Michael Socha as David Hartley in The Gallows Pole, flanked by the Stagmen (Credit: BBC/Element Pictures Limited/Objective Feedback LLC/Dean Rogers) | BBC/Element Pictures (GP) Limited/Objective Feedback LLC/Dean Rogers

Michael Socha plays David Hartley, leader of the Cragg Vale Coiners. Socha is perhaps best known for This Is England, a previous collaboration with The Gallows Pole writer Shane Meadows; otherwise, you might also recognise him from supernatural drama Being Human, prison drama Time, and period piece Chernobyl.

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Sophie Mcshera plays Grace Hartley, David’s wife and a key figure in the gang. You’ll recognise Mcshera either as Downton Abbey’s Daisy Mason, or perhaps as Waterloo Road student Ros McCain. She’s also starred in The Queen’s Gambit, Cinderella, and The Personal History of David Copperfield.

They’re joined by Thomas Turgoose (This Is England) as William Hartley, Samuel Edward-Cook (Better) as Isaac Hartley, Adam Fogerty (Snatch) as James Broadbent, and Anthony Welsh (The Flatshare) as Abe Oldfield amongst others. You can find a full breakdown of the cast of The Gallows Pole right here.

Who writes and directs the series?

Shane Meadows wrote and directed all three episodes of The Gallows Pole. Meadows is probably best known for the film This Is England and its television follow ups, but you might also know him from the Stephen Graham drama The Virtues, the 2008 film Somers Town, and the music documentary The Stone Roses: Made of Stone.

Is there a trailer for The Gallows Pole?

Yes, there is! You can watch it right here.

When and how can I watch the series?

The Gallows Pole begins on BBC Two on Wednesday 31 May at 9pm. New episodes will air each Wednesday thereafter, but you’ll also be able to stream the full series as part of a boxset on BBC iPlayer as soon as the first episode has ended.

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How many episodes are there?

The Gallows Pole is a three-part drama, with each episode around an hour long (the first and third running slightly longer). 

Where is The Gallows Pole filmed?

The Gallows Pole was filmed on location in Yorkshire, primarily in Heptonstall and Hebden Bridge (which you might recognise as the setting of Happy Valley earlier in the year). 

Why should I watch The Gallows Pole? 

It’s one to check out if you like Shane Meadows’ work generally, of course, but you might also want to give it a go if you enjoyed The Gold earlier in the year, given both seem to deal with similar themes. 

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