Shane Meadows’ new BBC One drama The Gallows Pole has revealed its starry cast, reuniting the director with a pair of This Is England veterans.
Michael Socha and Thomas Turgoose, who appear in Meadows’ 2006 film This Is England and its Channel 4 TV spin-offs, will both appear in the period drama, alongside Tom Burke (Strike) and George MacKay (1917).
Completing the cast will be Sophie McShera (Downton Abbey), Cara Theobold (Crazyhead), Yusra Warsama (Castle Rock), Eve Burley (Secret State), Nicole Barber Lane (Hollyoaks), Samuel Edward-Cook (Peaky Blinders), Anthony Welsh (Master of None), Joe Sproulle (The A Word), Adam Fogerty (Legend), and Fine Time Fontayne (How We Used to Live) – as well as a number of actors making their screen debuts.
The Gallows Pole is based on the novel of the same name by Benjamin Myers and fictionalises the true story of the rise and fall of David Hartley and the Cragg Vale Coiners.
Set against the backdrop of the coming industrial revolution in eighteenth century Yorkshire, the drama will follow the enigmatic David Hartley (played by Socha), as he assembles a gang of weavers and land-workers to embark upon a revolutionary criminal enterprise that will capsize the economy and become the biggest fraud in British history.
The series will also see Meadows reunite with director Shaheen Baig, after the pair collaborated on award-winning Channel 4 drama The Virtues.
“Putting this cast together (with the undying support of Shaheen Baig and her amazing team) has been an absolute joy,” said Meadows. “To be working with actors I’ve grown up with and/or have been desperate to work with, alongside oodles of incredible ‘as yet’ undiscovered (Yorkshire based) talent, is an absolute honour and I’ve not been this passionate about shooting a project in years!
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“After some initial rehearsals back in spring, me and the team went on an ‘open casting’ odyssey, watching over 6,500 self-tapes from unrepresented actors and actresses and were blown away by the quality of tapes that were submitted. We went from hoping to find one or two new faces to making up half of the entire cast from those tapes and I believe it’s going to create a series quite unlike anything else I’ve ever worked on.
“This is the 18th century yes, but viewed through a slightly more anarchic lens and will (like my previous work) have a soundtrack that fits the mood like a psychedelic glove, rather than historical expectations.”
Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, added: Shane’s talent for spotting and working with the newest and most authentic talent is second to none and will play a key role in setting this drama apart. It’s an honour to be working with Shane, our friends at [production company] Element, and our partners at A24, to see this amazing story start to come to life.”
The six-part series is currently filming in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.