‘Its embarrassing’ Ridley Road’s Vivien Epstein star shares ‘huge shock’ from BBC series

Ridley Road: BBC release trailer for new drama series

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BBC One’s brand new drama adaptation is set to provide viewers with insight into a fascist organisation during the ’60s through the lens of an undercover young Jewish woman. Actress Agnes O’Casey who stars as the lead character Vivien Epstein opened up about what she found embarrassing and why Ridley Road was also a huge shock for her.

Speaking to the BBC, the rising star confessed: “I had no idea about this period in history – I knew about Oswald Mosley to a lesser extent.”

Agnes stated: “This whole period totally blanked me, so it was a huge shock to see the archive footage of swastikas and people ‘heil’ing in such recent history.

“It’s embarrassing to say but when I first read the script, I thought it was fictional,” she added.

“That’s one of the many reasons why it is so brilliant Sarah is writing about this now, this period of our history has been forgotten about,” Agnes concluded

The upcoming BBC show will be a four-part adaptation series from the 2015 novel series of the same, written by Joe Bloom.

The network released a suspenseful trailer which showed 23-year-old Vivien, as she went undercover to gain insight into a neo-Nazi organisation.

Agnes gave more insight into her character and revealed she was on the hunt for more after being seemingly bored of her lifestyle.

She shared: “Vivien is 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,” Agnes added.

Vivien was also bored at work, as a proud hairdresser and she had a passion for the job but didn’t feel as though she was being pushed.

This led her to take a leap of faith and run away to London, initially following after a boy she had an affair with named Jack.

After she lands a job at a hair salon in Soho, Vivien gets involved in London’s anti-fascist movement and is selected to infiltrate the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi group set up by Colin Jordan (played by Rory Kinnear).

However, according to Agnes, this is where Vivien’s life took a dramatic turn: “She ends up discovering so much more about her own beliefs, her own determination and her own capability.”

After researching more into the history of Ridley Road, Agnes revealed the things that took her by surprise.

She stated: “I think the biggest shock for me was realising how smart and calculated people like Oswald Mosely and Colin Jordan were.”

Agnes explained: “Oswald Mosely is on record – he knew that there was going to be an economic depression after the war, so he waited until that happened before he started spreading his anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric.”

The actress went on to say: “He knew that if people were desperate, they would be more likely to cling onto what he was saying, we see this time and time again.”

While the love story featured in Ridley Road is primarily fiction, the history of the neo-Nazi movement is drawn from real history.

Colin Jordan existed in real life, who used hate to fuel his campaign to become a leading figure of far-right circles in East London during the 1960s.

History remembers him as the person who created a race war in 1962 at Trafalgar Square, where Colin’s attempt to hold a fascist and anti-semitic rally led to an actual riot.

The BBC synopsis described the series: “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.”

Ridley Road will premiere on BBC One on Sunday 3rd October 2021

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