The Gallows Pole – aka the new star-studded BBC drama from the director of This Is England – needs to be on to your must-watch list. Here’s why.
As our never ending obsession with the likes of Downton Abbey and Bridgerton has proven over the years, there’s nothing we love more than a period drama – except, of course, a meaty true crime thriller. Obviously.
Imagine our glee, then, when we learned that critically acclaimed director Shane Meadows has taken it upon himself to blend both genres with a must-watch adaptation of The Gallows Pole.
Here’s what you need to know.
What’s the plot of The Gallows Pole?
The Gallows Pole, based on the novel of the same name by Benjamin Myers, tells the story of “an England divided” as it fictionalises the “remarkable true story of the rise and fall of David Hartley and the Cragg Vale Coiners”.
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“Set against the backdrop of the coming industrial revolution in 18th century Yorkshire, the compelling drama follows the enigmatic David Hartley 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,” promises the synopsis.
Considering Hartley was notably prone to self-delusion and strange visions of mythical creatures, we have a feeling this will make for intense viewing.
Who stars in The Gallows Pole?
The Gallows Pole looks set to be an incredibly starry affair, with the likes of Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera and Cara Theobold along for the ride – not to mention 1917’s George MacKay and Peaky Blinders star Samuel Edward-Cook.
As if that weren’t enough, though, the series also boasts the talents of Yusra Warsama, Michael Socha, Thomas Turgoose, Tom Burke, Eve Burley, Nicole Barber Lane, Anthony Welsh, Joe Sproulle, Adam Fogerty, and Fine Time Fontayne, as well as an ensemble of first-time actors.
What are people saying about The Gallows Pole?
Speaking about the glittering cast of his first-ever period drama, Meadows says: “Putting this cast together with the undying support of casting director Shaheen Baig and her amazing team has been an absolute joy.
“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!”
Meadows continues: “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 – much like my previous work – have a soundtrack that fits the mood like a psychedelic glove, rather than historical expectations.”
Piers Wenger, aka the director of BBC Drama, adds: “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 Element, and our partners at A24, to see this amazing story start to come to life.”
When and where can we watch The Gallows Pole?
The six-part series for the BBC is currently filming in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, so we’re predicting it will drop at some point in 2022.
Watch this space.
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.