BBC First sets Summer of Rockets for September

BBC First will premiere the semi-autobiographical drama Summer of Rockets from BAFTA and Emmy award-winning writer and director Stephen Poliakoff (Close to the Enemy, Dancing on the Edge) next month

 The six episode first season stars Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard, Line of Duty) and Toby Stephens (Lost in Space) alongside Linus Roache (Vikings, Homeland) and Timothy Spall (Mr Turner).

Set in the UK during the Cold War period and tumultuous year of 1958, fear and excitement of the future permeates the lives of all.  As a Russian émigré, businessman Samuel Petrukin is determined to integrate his young family into the establishment. So when Samuel meets the captivating Kathleen Shaw and her husband Richard – a war-hero and Member of Parliament – he’s dazzled by their upper-class glamour. Then MI5 agents blackmail Samuel into spying on the Shaws, and he’s drawn into a dark web of deception. These shadowy government operatives could be tempting him into a deadly trap. Are the Shaws really involved in a plot to betray their nation? The country’s future is shrouded in doubt. Who can Samuel trust? Anyone?

Stephen Poliakoff said: “1958 was an extraordinary year. It saw the end of the debs [debutantes] being presented to the Queen. It was also a time of great fear of nuclear war. The Cold War was at its’ absolute height and it ended with the Notting Hill riots – a reminder of the racial tensions that were bubbling up. All these things came together within a few weeks in the summer of 1958, that’s why I’ve always been fascinated by that time and thought it was a great setting for a drama.

“Summer of Rockets centres around a family – modelled closely on my own – that gradually gets caught up in the tensions of the Cold War. The story is fiction, but it has many elements that are true. Sascha, the little boy, is sent off to an austere and frightening boarding school, just as I was. Samuel’s firm, the invention of the pager, the use of deaf workers and, most surreally, being suspected by the Secret Service of bugging Winston Churchill’s hearing aid, that’s all true.”

Summer of Rockets will screen on  BBC First from 8.30pm, Thursday 19 September.