The BBC is back with another period drama that is set to grip viewers.

The Gallows Pole is set in Yorkshire in the 18th century, and follows a criminal enterprise trying to carve a path 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.

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.”

Shane Meadows says of his cast: “Putting this cast together, with the undying support of 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.

The Gallows Pole,31-05-2023,1,The Stagmen, David Hartley (MICHAEL SOCHA),Element Pictures (GP) Limited/Objective Feedback LLC,Dean Rogers The Gallows Pole TV Still BBC
Michael Socha as David Hartley in The Gallows Pole (Photo: BBC/Element Pictures/Objective Feedback/Dean Rogers)

“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.”

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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