BBC One is set to adapt Jo Bloom's novel Ridley Road into a four part thriller.
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2015, Bloom's novel tells the story of the rise of fascism in Sixties London and one young woman who risked everything to fight it.
The new drama has been written and adapted for television by award-winning writer Sarah Solemani. BBC Content director Charlotte Moore and BBC Drama controller Piers Wenger commissioned the four-part thriller. "Ridley Road" will be produced by RED Production Company and BAFTA-award-winning executive producer Nicola Shindler (Years and Years, Happy Valley, Trust Me, Safe). Lucy Richer for BBC will join Schindler as executive producer with Betsan Morris Evans on board as series producer. Casting will be announced in due course.
Solemani, who won the Writers Guild America Award for her work on HBO’s Barry and is known for her roles in the BAFTA award-wining series "Him & Her", "No Offence'" and "Bridget Jones’ Baby", undertook extensive research into the period while adapting and writing the drama. In the US she is currently writing an original comedy drama with Sarah Jessica Parker's company Pretty Matches Productions.
She said: “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."
Set against the backdrop of 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, Vivienne finds herself going undercover with the fascists, not only for him but for the sake of her country.
BBC Drama controller Piers Wenger said: “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.”
Shindler added: “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.”