Ridley Highway is the gripping new BBC drama concerning the struggle in opposition to far-right facism that we're obsessive about
Ridley Highway spoilers forward.
Ridley Highway is the gripping new BBC drama that exposes the UK's little-known facist previous, set to the backdrop of the swinging 60s. Glamour's Editor-in-Chief, Deborah Joseph, talks to actor Aggi O'Casey, about filming in Manchester throughout lockdown, antisemitism and why she feels fortunate to be working in a submit #MeToo period.
I’ve been gripped by the brand new BBC four-part drama Ridley Highway, set within the 60s (it’s price anticipating the costumes alone), concerning the little-talked-about rise of proper wing fascism that pervaded London – and the 62 Group (a militant coalition of anti-facists arrange in 1962 in response, specifically, to the creation of professional Nazi Colin Jordan’s Nationwide Socialist Motion) that fought it.
The drama follows a younger Jewish hairdresser referred to as Vivien Epstein, who goes from Manchester to London to chase after her secret lover Jack, (performed by Sport of Thrones actor, Tom Varey,) solely to find he’s residing undercover as a part of NSM. Earlier than lengthy, she too infiltrates the group and finds herself dangerously up shut and private with Colin Jordan. It’s edge-of-your-seat TV.
Vivien is performed by 25-year-old London-born, Devon-bred actor Aggi O’Casey, who was actually plucked from drama college in Eire to play the lead position. Though Aggi’s character Vivien is fictional, “there are a whole lot of issues that occur in Ridley Highway which are based mostly on reality,” she tells me after we meet within the backyard of her favorite North London artisan cafe. “I had to take action a lot analysis as I had no concept about this era. It’s been completely buried. We don’t like to consider ourselves as facists, we expect ‘good previous Churchill.’ You’d suppose this story would have been informed extra, particularly with the success of the 62 Group, nevertheless it doesn’t slot in with our British narrative concerning the battle.”
Was Colin Jordon an actual individual or a fictional character?
Like many, Aggi thought Colin Jordan was a fictional character. “Once I was first requested to audition, I referred to as the producer and requested what the actor who performed Colin Jordan would appear to be, so I may get a way and he or she stated, “No he’s actual. Go and analysis him.” I assumed, There’s no approach I’ll get the half as a result of I used to be so ignorant. However when you do a deep dive there’s a lot about him and his spouse, French socialite, Francoise Dior, (she was the niece of designer Christian Dior, who publicly distanced himself from her when she married Jordan). You’ll be able to watch their wedding ceremony, they really acquired married over a replica of Mein Kampf. You’ll be able to see them doing the Nazi salute.” Within the present Francois is gleeful concerning the struggling and homicide of Jewish kids. “My buddy watched the present and stated, Francoise couldn’t be that evil.’ ‘No, she truly was.”
The place was Ridley Highway filmed?
The present was primarily filmed in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, together with the scenes depicting London’s Soho and Aggi filmed there for 3 months from final September. Did she get to occasion a lot? No, as a result of we had been in lockdown the entire time…we went to Federal as soon as. However principally me and Tom went for lengthy walks across the metropolis.” They turned such good mates that they moved in collectively in London together with Hannah Onslow (a facist's spouse) as soon as the present had completed filming. “It’s been so good to be with Tom and Hannah for the lead up, and be capable to say to one another, Have you ever learn this text, have you ever learn that one? A great deal of the crew came visiting to look at the present when it aired final week, James Craze, Danny Hatchard, Hannah Traylen, Preston Nyman (Jeremy), Hanna Trailer – all of us watched it collectively. I acquired to see the present by means of their eyes as a substitute of simply freaking out about myself. I’m so glad it’s had such an important response. I cry each time I watch the ultimate episode. It was embarrassing watching it with the crew, they had been like, ‘you alright Aggi?’ But it surely was so good to see what occurred to Vivien ultimately…” I inform her I believe it’s been left open for a sequel. She smiles, however is giving nothing away: “We’re all hoping they’ll be one, to see what occurs subsequent…”
The present additionally has a stellar lineup of veteran actors together with Tracy-Ann Oberman, Tamzin Outhwaite, Intercourse Schooling’s Samantha Sprio (who performs her mum) additionally starring. I ponder how she felt going from school to working alongside British appearing royalty?
“I used to be completely starstruck in the beginning” she laughs. “Rory Kinnear (who performs Colin Jordan) should have discovered me so boring. He’s truly so humorous. We’d sit round earlier than scenes and provides captions to all of the work on the partitions…I informed him about all my ex boyfriends… we’d talked about every part by the tip..Tracy-Ann was superb to me, so supportive. She was all the time on the cellphone, speaking about her personal Jewish household historical past of the place she would have come from and the Japanese European Jewish ladies, the facility of the matriarch.” She has additionally had nice assist from her fellow drama college students. “One in every of my finest mates is actress Alison Oliver who’s filming the a part of Francis in Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Buddies. We’ve been in a position to giggle concerning the weirdness of being on set, the truth that everybody talks about you whilst you’re there. You go to the john and other people say, ‘Aggi’s within the lavatory’…it’s been nice to have the ability to giggle about that along with her.”
Is Aggi O’Casey Jewish herself?
Though Aggi herself isn’t Jewish, she had a Jewish grandfather. “I didn’t know something about my heritage as a result of my grandad had died when my dad was fairly younger and we hadn’t talked concerning the household historical past a lot. Once I acquired the half it gave my dad an actual cause to speak to me about it. My Jewish household had been from Russia and moved to Connecticut within the early 1900’s. Dad confirmed me letters from one in every of his US cousins who’d traced again our household historical past. My grandad was an actor, we discovered his previous handwritten CV. It was superb however unhappy that there was a complete factor of our historical past that’s been misplaced.”
With dialog raging round whether or not actors ought to be enjoying elements representing different races and peoples, I ask if she was frightened about enjoying such a Jewish position? “Sure, very,” she admits. “A number of Jewish folks I converse to really feel otherwise. It's a dialog that must be had and to be correctly listened to. Sarah and Nicola solid me not as a result of I used to be a reputation however as a result of I care deeply about this story. I'm positive my heritage was a part of this cause too. The extra analysis I did the extra I assumed, That is so necessary to the Jewish neighborhood, if we're inflicting hurt with my casting then what are we doing? I can't personally say, it's not my place. I do imagine folks ought to be capable to inform their very own tales authenticity – it's actually necessary. Lots of thought went into the present by a Jewish manufacturing crew and I might by no means need my casting to overshadow their stunning work."
In truth, the response to her portrayal of Vivien – together with from the Jewish neighborhood – has been vastly constructive. “I actually averted trying on Twitter,” she says, “However I’ve been blown away by the constructive response, and love the very fact individuals are speaking about facism and antisemitism round it.”
Has she ever witnessed antisemitism in her personal life? “Sure, I’ve been round antisemitic sentiment” she says, telling me about a cocktail party she attended when somebody repeated well-trodden antisemitic tropes: “Nicely, everyone knows he Jews management the media and the banks.’ “I stated to them, actually, what banks do they management? And what media corporations are owned by Jews?’ They couldn’t reply me, so I stated, ‘Why are you simply repeating this antisemitism if you don’t also have a clue whether or not it’s true or not.”
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Aggi is fortunately a part of a brand new era of feminine actors who feels very snug expressing their ideas. She says she feels lucky to be getting into the appearing occupation in a post-#MeToo world. “I’ve been so fortunate. Each director I’ve labored for therefore far has been a lady. You probably have ladies in positions in energy it modifications lives.”So what’s subsequent for Aggi? “Nicely I’m enjoying a component with horses subsequent, however I’m actually allergic to animals in order that’s going to be attention-grabbing,” she giggles. She’s auditioning for different roles and has a brand new half that’s ready to be green-lit. Her dream position can be to play Amy Winehouse. “I cherished Amy Winehouse so a lot. She was unimaginable…” Watch this area.
Ridley Highway is on BBC One tonight at 9pm.
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