‘Ridley Road’ recap: What happened in Episode 1?

The BBC’s adaptation of Ridley Road premiered in the UK tonight.

From the executive producer of Downton Abbey and the makers of Last Tango in Halifax, the new four-part mini-series is based on Jo Bloom’s hit novel.

Ridley Road is a four-part 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.

Joining newcomers Aggi O’Casey and Tom Varey in the cast are Rory Kinnear (Penny Dreadful), Tracy-Ann Oberman (It’s a Sin), Eddie Marsan (The Pact), Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders), Samantha Spiro (Game of Thrones), Danny Hatchard (EastEnders), and Rita Tushingham (Doctor Zhivago).

Watch the trailer:


The official synopsis for Ridley Road reads: “Inspired by the struggle of the 62 Group, a coalition from the Jewish community who stood up against rising neo-Nazism in post-war Britain, Ridley Road tells the story of Vivien Epstein, a young Jewish woman (played by Agnes O’Casey).

“When Vivien starts to work with them and realises that Jack, her missing boyfriend (played by Tom Varey) has been badly injured, she infiltrates the NSM, a neo-Nazi movement which is becoming increasingly prominent in London, risking everything for her beliefs and for the man she loves.”

Ridley Road will air on PBS in the US in 2022.

Here’s a plot recap for the first episode, which aired on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday 3rd October 2021:

In 1962 Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey), a Jewish hairdresser from Manchester, runs away from her protective parents David (Will Keen) and Liza Epstein (Samantha Spiro) and her upcoming marriage, and heads to London in pursuit of her true love, Jack Morris (Tom Varey).

She follows Jack to his last known address on the iconic Ridley Road, but she is warned off by her uncle, the gruff Soly Malinovsky (Eddie Marsan) and Soly’s wife Nancy (Tracy-Ann Oberman).

Determined to stay on in London, Vivien takes up lodgings with the very traditional Nettie Jones (Rita Tushingham) and finds a job at a trendy Soho hair salon run by Barbara (Tamzin Outhwaite).

But her world is turned upside down when she discovers that Jack has gone missing while working undercover to infiltrate the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, led by Colin Jordan (Rory Kinnear).

With the backing of the anti-fascist 62 Group led by Soly and Nancy, Vivien decides to go undercover herself to discover what happened to Jack.

Will she have the courage to do what is necessary to save Jack and protect her community?

Jo Bloom’s novel is available on Amazon.