Yorkshire is providing the backdrop for another BBC period drama that is set to grip viewers with its intriguing plot and stunning setting.

The Gallows Pole is set in the county in the 18th century, when the country was about to change forever, and it follows a criminal enterprise trying to make a living during the Industrial Revolution.

What can we expect from The Gallows Pole?

Writer-director Shane Meadows (This Is England, The Virtues) has fictionalised the true story of the Cragg Vale Coiners, a group of 18th-century weavers turned counterfeiters in Yorkshire – their cottage-based livelihood threatened by the Industrial Revolution.

The BBC writes: “The Gallows Pole, based on the novel of the same name by Benjamin Myers, 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, played by Michael 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.”

In the first of three episodes, Hartley returns to his family’s moor-top dwelling after seven years in Birmingham to find the area has declined in the time he was away. But he has cash and a cunning plan.

Where was The Gallows Pole filmed?

Most of the exterior scenes were filed in Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall, where the real David Hartley is buried. You can still find his gravestone, which reads: “Here was interr’d the body of Grace Hartley of Lodge in Erringden who departed this life Sept 2nd 1802 in the 61 year of her life.

“Also of David Hartley her Grandson who departed this life Feb 23rd 1845 aged 25 years.”

Its streets were transformed into the 18th century back in 2021, and a former museum, which was closed three years ago, was turned into the gang’s drinking den.

Writer Shane Meadows told the BBC: “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.”

He continued: “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.”

Samuel Edward-Cook described the show as “a real love letter to the area as well”.

But it was also filmed in Nottinghamshire, and the crew was spotted across the county in 2021.

Who stars in The Gallows Pole?

In This is England‘s Michael Socha stars as David Hartley, the series’ protagonist.

Speaking about how he prepared for the role, he told the BBC: “I worked on a farm for a week and learnt how to shear sheep, I did lots of walking around the area… I learnt to clip coins, which I enjoyed doing, it was very satisfying.

In This is England, I wasn’t in it half as much as I am in this and there’s also a bit more of a character attached to this role. I’m playing somebody who existed, so I’ve also got a back story that was half made for me.

“Whereas the character I played in This is England was, I suppose, a version of me, I think there are definitely elements of myself here, but in terms of back story, it’s already written.”

The full cast list is below:

  • Michael Socha as David Hartley
  • Sophie McShera as Grace Hartley
  • Thomas Turgoose as William Hartley
  • Yusra Warsama as Bethsheba
  • Anthony Welsh as Abe Oldfield
  • Samuel Edward-Cook as Isaac Hartley
  • Joe Sproulle as Joe
  • Adam Fogerty as James Broadbent
  • Nicole Barber-Lane as Susie
  • Fine Time Fontayne as Joseph Broadbent
  • Ralph Ineson as The Clothier
  • Stevie Binns as Mand
  • Jennifer Reid as Barb
  • Soraya Jane Nabipour as Darya Hartley
  • Olivia Pentelow as Hannah
  • Charlotte Ockelton as Gwen Hartley
  • Dave Perkins as Tom Hartley

How can I watch The Gallows Pole?

The Gallows Pole premieres on BBC Two on Wednesday 31 May at 9pm.

It will also be available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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