What is Ridley Road About?


Ben Blackall


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

This Sunday, May 1, Nine PBS here in St. Louis will begin airing a spellbinding miniseries called “Ridley Road.”

The show centers on the fictional character of Vivien Epstein, who goes from humdrum hairdresser to amateur spy after following ex-boyfriend Jack to London. She discovers Jack is embedded within an extreme right-wing political movement and covertly feeding intelligence to Jewish activists. When Jack suddenly goes silent, Vivien boldly charms her way into the fascist group’s upper ranks to learn what’s happened to him. “It’s a hugely important story because of the idea of people becoming actively involved…and the rise of extreme right-wing politics [that is] absolutely prevalent today,” says executive producer Nicola Shindler.

What is “Ridley Road” About?

Expect four, adrenalin-filled episodes right out of the gate, with sudden turns, narrow squeaks, and a love story to root for—all set in a carefully reconstructed 1960s London. “Ridley Road” “is a serious piece of work that also manages to hit all the spy-movie and thriller buttons,” says the UK’s Condé Nast Traveler.

Inspired by true events, Ridley Road stars newcomer Agnes O’Casey as Vivien Epstein, a young Jewish hairdresser who fits right into London’s mod scene, while secretly infiltrating the British neo-Nazi hierarchy on behalf of Jewish antifascists.

Politics is the last thing on Vivien’s mind when she flees a proposed arranged marriage in Manchester to find Jack, whom her parents deplore. Little does she know that Jack has been recruited by the 62 Group in London as a mole to infiltrate the National Socialist Movement, a fascist party promoting violent antisemitism and racism.

Before she knows it, Vivien is also recruited—with the mission of finding out what has happened to Jack. The assignment requires her to change her look, her name, and her personality, becoming an apparent Nazi and ardent admirer of the movement’s charismatic leader, Jordan. She is far more successful than anyone dreamed possible, which pulls her deeper and deeper into a vicious lion’s den of intrigue.

London is famous for its swinging era in the early sixties that launched a worldwide, youth-centered cultural revolution. Largely forgotten is the concurrent rise of extreme nationalist politics that seemed poised to take over the county—the movement portrayed in Ridley Road.

Watch a preview or “Ridley Road”