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Ridley Road: US release date, cast, plot and more about the political thriller

'Ridley Road' is BBC1's new drama set in the 1960s during a period of unrest in London's East End.
'Ridley Road' is BBC1's new drama set in the 1960s during a period of unrest in London's East End. (Image credit: BBC/Red Productions/Ben Blackall)

Ridley Road is a thought-provoking drama that explores a relatively unknown chapter of London history. Based on the debut novel by Jo Bloom (opens in new tab), it tells the fictional story of young Jewish woman Vivien Epstein — played by TV newcomer Agnes O’Casey (aka Aggi O'Casey) — facing prejudice in London’s swinging Sixties.

The four-part series was shown on BBC1 in 2021 and starts on May 1, 2022, on PBS Masterpiece in the US. It's full of twists, turns, and shocking revelations about 1960s London. We've got plot reveals, details of the cast and characters of Ridley Road, plus first look pictures.

Ridley Road  US air date

Ridley Road premiere in the US on PBS Masterpiece (opens in new tab) at 9 pm ET/8 pm Central on Sunday, May 1, 2022. Ridley Road was shown in the UK on BBC1 in October 2021 and is now available as a boxset on BBC iPlayer (opens in new tab).

What is the plot of Ridley Road?

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.  

“Inspired by the struggle of the 62 Group, a coalition of Jewish men and women who stood up against rising neo-Nazism in post-war Britain. Lead character Vivien finds herself going undercover with the fascists, not only for her lover but for the sake of her country.”

Ridley Road trailer

Meet the cast of Ridley Road

From Hollywood stars to newcomers, Ridley Road, boasts an impressive cast...The cast includes:

  • Agnes O’Casey (aka Aggi O'Casey) in her television debut as Vivien Epstein
  • Eddie Marsan (The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe, 21 Grams, Vera Drake)
  • Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders, New Tricks, Doctor Who)
  • Rory Kinnear (Black Mirror, Penny Dreadful, Skyfall)
  • Rita Tushingham (Doctor Zhivago, Bread, In the Flesh)
  • Tracy Ann Oberman (EastEnders, After Life, It's A Sin, Friday Night Dinner)
  • Samantha Spiro (From Hell, Grandma’s House, Sex Education)
  • Tom Varey (The Village, Game of Thrones, No Offence)
  • Danny Hatchard (EastEnders, Our Girl)
  • Hannah Traylen (Call the Midwife, Harlots)
  • Danny Sykes (Bulletproof)

Tom Varey and Aggi O'Casey as Vivien and Jack in Ridley Road.

Dangerous liaisons. Tom Varey and Agnes O'Casey as Vivien and Jack in Ridley Road. (Image credit: Ben Blackall)

Who’s who in Ridley Road — meet the characters

Vivien Epstein in Ridley Road.

Vivien Epstein. (Image credit: BBC/Red Productions/Ben Blackall)

Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey) 

Young Jewish woman Vivien rejects her comfortable middle-class life in Manchester when she falls in love with Jack, a member of the 62 Group. When Jack goes missing her life takes a dangerous turn. 

Hairdresser Vivien is working with the 62 Group in London when she discovers Jack has been badly injured. She infiltrates the neo-Nazi movement (NSM) as it gains traction and popularity in the city. Soon her sense of self, loyalties and resolve are tested, as she risks everything for the man she loves. 

Agnes says: “Vivien is twenty-three and living in Manchester, in a loving but overbearing household. She is still unmarried and feels this mounting pressure of her parents ’wishes. With an arranged marriage looming she is aware there is a role she must fill that she knows isn’t right for her. 

"She’s a hairdresser, which is her pride and passion, but she is not being pushed - she feels like she’s stagnating. She sees the life that is laid out in front of her, and she veers off that path and into the unknown. She takes a leap of faith and runs away to London. Initially, she goes to follow Jack, the boy she loves, but she ends up discovering so much more about her own beliefs, her own determination and her own capability."

Newcomer Aggi O'Casey leads the cast of BBC's Ridley Road.

Newcomer Agnes O'Casey leads the stellar cast of Ridley Road. (Image credit: Ben Blackall)

Jack Morris (Tom Varey)

When Jack mysteriously disappears his lover Vivien desperately searches for him, only to make a shocking discovery that sets her on a life-changing path.

Tom says: “I’m so proud to be working on such a powerful, beautiful, important story. The scripts are amazing, and I’m excited to be in the company of actors that I have looked up to and admired for so long.”

Tom Varey as Jack Morris, Vivien’s lover and staunch member of anti-fascist movement The 62 Group in Ridley Road.

Tom Varey as Jack Morris, Vivien’s lover and staunch member of anti-fascist movement The 62 Group in 'Ridley Road'. (Image credit: Ben Blackall)

Colin Jordan (Rory Kinnear)

The formidable leader of neo-Nazi movement NSM, Colin is a menacing presence in Ridley Road. Fond of making fanatical speeches he’s an intimidating bigot who incites racist attacks and violent riots.

Rory says: “Sarah’s scripts had me hooked and to work with so many interesting characters is something that was hugely appealing.”

Ridley Road' fascist Colin Jordan, played by Rory Kinnear.

Ridley Road's fascist leader, Colin Jordan, played by Rory Kinnear. (Image credit: BBC)

Soly Malinovsky (Eddie Marsan)

Described as a “hot-headed, sharp-witted cab driver”, Soly Malinovsky is the leader of the anti-fascist organization 62 Group. 

Eddie says: “I'm honored 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. 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.”

Ronnie Malinovsky (DANNY SYKES), Vivien Epstein (AGNES O'CASEY), Soly Malinovsky (EDDIE MARSAN)

Ridley Road's Eddie Marsan (left) as Soly Malinovsky with Vivien Epstein (Agnes O'Casey) and Ronnie Malinovsky (Danny Sykes). (Image credit: BBC)

Barbara Watson (Tamzin Outhwaite)

Barbara is Vivien’s boss at a London-based hair salon and experiences racism first-hand being hurled at her mixed-race son.

Tamzin Outhwaite plays a hair salon owner in Ridley Road.

Tamzin Outhwaite plays a hair salon owner Barbara Watson in 'Ridley Road'. (Image credit: BBC)

Nettie Jones (Rita Tushingham)

Vivien’s London landlady, Nettie mourns the loss of her three sons in World War Two and becomes increasingly afraid of the changing world around her.

Nancy Malinovsky (Tracy-Ann Oberman)

Soly’s wife Nancy is described as “a smooth operator who plays a crucial role in the 62 Group operations."

Tracy-Ann Oberman as Nancy in Ridley Road.

Tracy-Ann Oberman as Nancy Malinovsky in Ridley Road. (Image credit: BBC)

Liza Epstein (Samantha Spiro)

Liza’s life is turned upside down when she discovers her late husband was involved in the underground movement… Can she protect daughter Vivien?

Lee (Danny Hatchard)

Colin Jordan’s driver Lee believes the NSM is like a family to him. But when the chips are down will his loyalty to Colin be reciprocated?

Danny Hatchard as driver Lee in Ridley Road.

Danny Hatchard (front) as driver Lee in 'Ridley Road'. (Image credit: BBC/Red Productions/Ben Blackall)

The 1960s soundtrack you'll hear in Ridley Road

Ridley Road has a great Sixties soundtrack. Here are all the songs you'll hear while watching the four-part drama.

The Hucklebuck by Chubby Checker
To Be Loved by Ronnie Carroll 
Sweet Dreams by Dave Sampson & The Hunters
Steam Train Comin by Allen Crockett Glover 
Image of a Girl by The Safaris 
I Wanna Be Loved By You by Helen Kane
Top Teen Baby by Garry Mills
Walkin‘ Back to Happiness by Helen Shapiro
Alley-Oop by The Hollywood Argyles
Tequila by The Champs
Marvelous Lie by Helen Shapiro
I Don’t Care by Helen Shapiro

More related Ridley Road content

Elaine Reilly
Elaine Reilly

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and (opens in new tab)www.whattowatch.com (opens in new tab) covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.

 

As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 


After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.