'Ridley Road': Episode 3 Recap

Jack Morris (Tom Varey). Credit: Courtesy of RED Production Company and MASTERPIECE

As the third installment of Ridley Road begins, Vivien is woken by Elise and finds the house is in an uproar with the arrival of Colin Jordan’s glamorous wife, Francoise Dior (Romane Portail), and George Lincoln Rockwell (Stephen Hogan), leader of the American Nazi Party. Although her night with Colin was just one of talking politics, Francoise is verbally and physically aggressive. It’s clear she should return to London. Vivien is shocked when she finds their son Paul taking a gun out of a chest of weapons, and takes him upstairs. She briefly sees Jack from the window.

On the way to the car, Lee, who is married to Elise, confides in Vivien:

I don’t care about the spotlight, swigging champagne with all the lah-di-dahs. I got a baby on the way, haven’t I. When the uprising comes and the leader’s in charge, he promised to buy us a house each, a big house with a garden and that, for our loyalty. Never had nothing that that before, me and Elise.

“Lucky baby,” Vivien comments and deflects his question about where she grew up by admiring the Jaguar in which he’s to drive her to London.

She’s late to work. Stevie has been injured, attacked by some white men who also stole his books. When Nancy comes to the shop, Vivien draws her aside, ostensibly to look at wigs, but confesses how overwhelmed she’s feeling, and her concern about Elise’s discovery of the hairdresser’s card in her pocket.

Back at her lodgings, Vivien finds her prayer book on her bed, and she and Nettie confront each other. Surprisingly, Nettie, despite her friendship with the local right-wing community group, is hurt that Vivien lied to her. Yet as Vivien leaves for a night out, Nettie warns her about white slavery activity in dance halls, a favorite myth of the Right

Nettie (Rita Tushingham). Credit: Courtesy of RED Production Company and MASTERPIECE
Nettie (Rita Tushingham) prepares to leave the house where she brought up her two sons. Credit: Courtesy of RED Production Company and MASTERPIEC

But Vivien’s off to the headquarters of the National Socialist Movement, where a major meeting is taking place, and Jeff (James Craze), who along with Lee is one of Colin Jordan’s top men, grudgingly lets her into the building. She has ink refills for the linotype which Jack is using to run off leaflets. Vivien asks Jeff to take something—she paws through her purse—a lady thing to Francoise, and he backs away in horror, allowing her upstairs. There, Colin Jordan and Rockwell are engaged in a lively debate about tactics, Colin advocating an approach to educate his followers, while Rockwell insists that force should be used to satisfy the movement’s international investors. Colin is determined to stick to his plan and Rockwell concedes, hailing him as the Leader, Sieg Heils all around.

Francoise is relatively friendly to Vivien, muttering to her as the women are sent out of the room, “I’m nothing to these men but a courier in a skirt.” Vivien lingers, pretending to clean up Francoise’s smeared mascara, and hears that the plan is to march on the Ridley Road Synagogue. Vivien offers to fetch Francoise a drink and encounters Jeff and Lee on the stairs. Jeff is suspicious of her because the linotype was not running out of ink; she tells him Colin had invited her but asked her to be discreet because of Francoise. Jeff asks about her subscription—five shillings a week—and also for documents to prove her identity. Colin joins them on the staircase, confirms she’s a verified member, and dismisses both Jeff and Lee. Things are not straightforward with his wife, he tells Vivien, but their conversation ends as Francoise herself appears, demanding the drink Vivien is supposed to be fetching.

Vivien is picked up by Soley’s cab, with her father David aboard. He admits he’s been training anti-fascist resisters for years, but he’s adamant that she return to Manchester. She refuses. Hasn’t he taught her that a Jew protects life above all? At the synagogue, where the Rabbi is coaching Bar Mitzvah readings, Soley, David, and Vivien try to warn him of the danger his congregation faces. Soley’s owed a favor by some dockworkers and wants to bring them in for protection. The Rabbi won’t cancel services and will only consider calling in the police, even though many of them, according to Soley, have neo-Nazi sympathies.

Elise (Hannah Onslow). Credit: Courtesy of RED Production Company and MASTERPIECE
Elise (Hannah Onslow) is on to Vivien, and shares her information with her husband Lee. Credit: Courtesy of RED Production Company and MASTERPIECE

At the hairdressers, Stevie finds one of Jack’s leaflets announcing the Ridley Road Synagogue march in Vivien’s coat pocket. Elise is snooping too, arriving at the hairdresser's, and finding that they don’t have a Jane Carpenter working there. But she spots Vivien’s coat with its distinctive appliqué flower, and although Vivien isn’t visible, it’s enough to send Elise home to Lee to voice her suspicions. Is Vivien undercover police? She suspects Jack, too. She’s afraid that Lee with be arrested and imprisoned, and her baby will be taken into care, something that’s already happened with another child.

Soley, meanwhile, has received tapes of Colin Jordan’s conversations, and takes them to his contact at the police, Detective McCracken (David Ganly). Surely this will justify an escalation to Special Branch? But the Detective says it’s not enough. They need physical evidence, not illegally recorded tapes. Besides, the march to the synagogue is legal—the National Socialist Movement has a permit. It’s an issue of free speech.

Back in Manchester, Liza and Roza talk again. Liza is still in denial, but Roza insists she open the envelope this time. Liza is mystified. Why would her husband have other strangers' birth certificates and bank accounts? What is going on?

Vivien Epstein (Agnes O’Casey) marches with Colin Jordan (Rory Kinnear) and fascist sympathizers. Credit: Courtesy of RED Production Company and MASTERPIECE
The march falls into chaos as anti-fascist supporters attack National Socialist Movement marchers. Vivien is caught in the melee. Credit: Courtesy of RED Production Company and MASTERPIECE

Shouting anti-Semitic slogans, Vivien marches next to Colin and you can see her horror at what she has to do made all the more vivid by the use of inserted newsreel footage. Inside the Synagogue, David, Soley, and Ronnie push furniture against the bolted doors. The congregation is frightened, and the Rabbi instructs them to leave by the side door.

Colin makes a short speech and is then surprised to see the arrival of Spearhead, the trained militia who, he’d argued to Rockwell, were not yet ready for action. Rockwell encourages them while Colin tries to get back control, and then counter-protestors, including Stevie arrive. Chaos ensues. Rockwell is intimidated by Stevie, who is promptly arrested.

Lee, who’s been keeping a close eye on Jack, follows him to the side door of the synagogue and realizes where Jack’s loyalties lie as he sees him helping people leave and giving them reassurance. Jack attacks Lee, and beats him savagely, leaves him unconscious. When he returns to the demonstration, Jeff tells him that Lee is badly injured, and is in danger of being killed. Jack accompanies him to the side entrance but we don’t know what happens between them.

Colin Jordan drags Vivien away and takes her back to the house where he confronts Francoise. She, with or without Rockwell’s urging, made the decision to launch Spearhead. He sends her back to Europe but insists on taking a suitcase that clearly contains essential materials. He tells Vivien to go with Jack but agrees when she offers to help with Paul, who is distressed at the change of routine and tense atmosphere. Jack and another man are to ransack and burn the house and make it appear that Jewish activists are responsible. As Jack throws kerosene around, he comes across a copy of the Jewish Chronicle, opened to the page where Vivien’s engagement is announced. Does Colin Jordan know who she really is?

At the country house, Vivien goes into Colin Jordan’s room, searching for the suitcase. The first thing she finds is a bill of sale for weapon purchases, but she only has time for a quick look before Colin comes into the room. This time, his intentions are obvious. The time for talking is over. Vivien has seen his march descend into chaos and watched him lose control over both Spearhead and his wife. He will now use her to restore his prowess as a leader.

Janet Mullany

Writer Janet Mullany is from England, drinks a lot of tea, and likes Jane Austen, reading, and gasping in shock at costumes in historical TV dramas. Her household near Washington DC includes two badly-behaved cats about whom she frequently boasts on Facebook.

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