First-look imagery has been released from Shane Meadows’ three-part series The Gallows Pole, starring Michael Socha and Sophie McShera, and coming soon to BBC Two and iPlayer.
Based on the book by Benjamin Myers, Shane Meadows fictionalises the remarkable true story of the rise of David Hartley and the Cragg Vale Coiners. Set in the moorland hills of 18th Century Yorkshire, the drama follows the enigmatic David Hartley played by Michael Socha (This Is England, Papillon), 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.
Also starring in The Gallows Pole are Sophie McShera (Cinderella, Downton Abbey) who plays Grace, with Thomas Turgoose (This Is England, Looted) as William Hartley, Yusra Warsama (Castle Rock) as Bethsheba, Anthony Welsh (Master Of None, The Flatshare) as Abe Oldfield, Samuel Edward-Cook (Peaky Blinders, Better) as Isaac Hartley, Joe Sproulle (The A Word) as Joe, and Adam Fogerty (Legend, Snatch) as James Broadbent, Nicole Barber-Lane (Hollyoaks) as Susie, Fine Time Fontayne (Peterloo) as Joseph Broadbent, with Ralph Ineson (Peaky Blinders) as The Clothier.
The Gallows Pole also sees the screen debuts of an ensemble of first-time actors, including Stevie Binns as Mand, Jennifer Reid as Barb, Soraya Jane Nabipour as Darya Hartley, Olivia Pentelow as Hannah, Charlotte Ockelton as Gwen Hartley and Dave Perkins as Tom Hartley.
Shane Meadows says: “I really wanted to delve into the history of this story and the circumstances that lead to an entire West Yorkshire community risking their lives to put food in their children’s bellies.
“It was during the workshopping process with the actors I realised there was also a story to tell leading up to Ben’s incredible book. A prequel that not only allowed us to understand ‘why’ the Cragg Vale Coiners did what they did, but maybe fall in love with them a smidge while they did it. It may have turned into one of the biggest crimes in British history, but it was pulled off by a bunch of destitute farmers and weavers doing what they had to to survive, and I think people will resonate with that.
“You can tell a story in any century if you care about the characters, but there was something so attractive about this period in British history. Large mouthfuls of West Yorkshire were about to be inhaled by the Industrial Revolution and our country and its unspoilt sides set to change forever. So it was an honour to be able to go back and hold up a magnifying glass to some of dudes that were living through it.
“Marry that with a cast that pitches some of the UK’s finest actors alongside an awesome array of brand spanking new Yorkshire talent and you have a series unlike anything else I’ve made before.”
Benjamin Myers adds: “Shane has retained the feel of The Gallows Pole and shot it in the very same landscapes that I have been exploring for many years now, and where the true events happened. So it looks, sounds and smells right. Shane is a true auteur, he has a singular vision, and he has taken it off in a new direction. Also, credit should be given to the cast, who range from experienced life-long actors to first timers. He’s a digital alchemist!”
The Gallows Pole is produced by Element Pictures in association with Big Arty for the BBC in association with A24. Nickie Sault, a long-time collaborator of Shane Meadows is producer. Executive producers for Element Pictures are Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Rachel Dargavel, Emma Norton, with Jo McClellan for the BBC. International sales are handled by A24. Element Pictures is a Fremantle company.