BBC orders 1960s love story ‘Ridley Road’ set in East End of London

The makers of Happy Valley will produce a new romantic spy thriller series for the BBC.

Ridley Road is based on the critically acclaimed novel by Jo Bloom.

The official 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, Vivien finds herself going undercover with the fascists, not only for him but for the sake of her country.”

The four-part mini-series has been adapted for TV by writer and actress Sarah Solemani (Him & Her, Bridget Jones’ Baby).

Solemani commented: “Britain’s relationship with fascism is closer and more alive than we like to think. Luckily, so is our rich heritage of fighting it.

“Jo Bloom’s gripping book revealed a darker side of sixties London and the staggering contribution the Jewish community made in the battle against racism. I am thrilled to be working with RED and the BBC to bring this little-known slice of British history to the screen.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, added: “Sarah’s brilliant scripts tell a unique story of doomed love and undercover espionage against a backdrop of a fascist uprising in 1960s London. This story couldn’t feel more timely and we are hugely indebted Sarah for bringing this story to life in her own style.”

Executive producer Nicola Shindler (Happy Valley) said: “It’s hugely exciting to adapt this story into a drama. I loved the book, and Sarah’s script has brilliantly captured the passionate love story coupled with the social tensions amid the rise of fascism and the vivid wonderment of the swinging sixties.

“While it’s set during a relatively unknown part of British history, Ridley Road echoes what is happening today with the growing rhetoric against people of a different race or nationality, and it feels like a really timely drama to bring to audiences.”

Produced by Endeavour producer Betsan Morris Evans, Ridley Road will air in the UK on BBC One in 2020.

Jo Bloom’s novel is available on Amazon.