What is the 62 Group? Jewish anti-fascism group featured in new London-based BBC drama Ridley Road explained

The group emerged in the 1960s in London, with its values and principles mirroring those of the post-war ‘43 Group’.

<p>A riot breaks out between Group 62 and the extremist right-wing British union movement, during a march in July 29, 1962</p>

A riot breaks out between Group 62 and the extremist right-wing British union movement, during a march in July 29, 1962

BBC’s new period drama Ridley Road has thrown viewers back in time to London’s swinging sixties, but with a far less glamorous outlook.

The drama is based in east London in 1962 and tells the story of members of the 62 Group, and anti-fascist and largely Jewish group which worked to stop the rise of neo-nazism.

While the characters are fictional, the series is inspired by true events and screenwriter Sarah Solemani said she hopes the series will help raise awareness on why people are drawn to the far right today.

Solemani told the BBC: “What is it about that ideology and rhetoric that is still appealing, so many years on? Not just in England, but in America, Eastern Europe, India, Brazil, it’s something that has had a surge of popularity.

“It isn’t enough to identify these people as monsters or stupid.

“We have to work a bit harder in understanding the logic behind this worldview.”

So, what was 62 group, what did it stand for and what did it achieve?

This is everything you need to know about the people and values that inspired the BBC series.

What was 62 Group?

The 62 Group was an anti-fascist coalition founded in Soho, London, in 1962.

The group was founded by Jewish Nightclub Manager Harry Bidney, who based it on the earlier, post-war ‘43 group’.

The 43 Group was formed in the immediate aftermath of World War II and continued into the 1950s with the aims of dispelling antisemitism and protecting minority communities.

Rallies between the two groups of political protesters broke out on Ridley Road, Hackney (Picture: Hackney Museum)

The initial group had disbanded after sensing that an immediate threat to the Jewish community has passed, but a resurgence emerged soon after and grew from far-right politicians and rallies of supporters.

62 Group grew into one of the largest Jewish militant groups of its’ time

Who did the 62 Group protest against?

The group was formed in 1962, as Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and the then-emerging white-supremacist movement the National Front.

These groups believed only white British-born people should be eligible for UK citizenship, which threatened the livelihoods, right to live and work in the country for many WWII refugees.

The 62 Group would take direct action against groups like these.

Who made up the membership of 62 Group?

Although the group had a strict rule of only permitting Jewish people to be official members, it worked closely with other minority groups in London such as the Irish and Black communities.

The group attracted support from many Londoners who feared the growing resurgence of right-wing politics and ideologies.

In July 1962, the 62 Group rallied against neo-fascists including far-right leader Colin Jordan, who was attempting to make a speech in front of a banner which read: "Free Britain from Jewish Control".

Rory Kinnear plays the role of Colin Jordan in the period-drama Ridley Road (Picture: BBC)

Ridley Road was also the place where Sir Oswald Mosley attempted to hold a meeting of his supporters, it also turned into a riot and within three minutes of the meeting beginning 54 people were arrested and Mosley had been assaulted.

Does the 62 Group still exist?

The group no longer exists, but a magazine which was founded by Gerry Gable, a member of the 1962 Group, still exists. The magazine is called Searchlight and is available via online subscription.

The magazine focuses on exposing far-right groups, neo-Nazism and antisemitism and other forms of bigotry in the UK and around the world.

The group faded and disbanded after the 1977 founding of The Anti Nazi League.

Ridley Road is on tonight at 9pm.