Longtime readers will know that we at Empire are big Shane Meadows fans. So it’s always exciting when he has a new project in the works. Such is the case with his new BBC series The Gallows Pole, which has a stacked cast including Michael Socha, Thomas Turgoose, George MacKay, Tom Burke, Sophie McShera, Cara Theobold and Samuel Edward-Cook.
Meadows is at work on the show now in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire and it adapts Benjamin Myers’ novel. Like the eponymous tome, The Gallows Pole fictionalises the remarkable 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 18th century Yorkshire, the compelling drama follows the enigmatic David Hartley (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.
Yusra Warsama, Eve Burley, Nicole Barber Lane, Anthony Welsh, Joe Sproulle, Adam Fogerty and Fine Time Fontayne are all part of the ensemble, along with a group of first-time performers, which is par for the course for Meadows, who usually works with a blend of repeat collaborators, new faces and unknowns.
“Putting this cast together with the undying support of [casting director] Shaheen Baig and her amazing team has been an absolute joy,” Meadows says in a statement. “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!
“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.”
There’s no date for this one yet, but the series can’t hit our screens fast enough.