Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Nicholas Cannon

This Town: release date, cast, plot, trailer, interviews and all about the 1980s ska music drama by the Peaky Blinders' writer

This Town on BBC1 goes back to the 1980s to follow troubled souls in Birmingham who find an outlet in ska music. .

'This Town is coming like a ghost town' is the epic line from the 1981 pop song Ghost Town by British band The Specials, and it's now the title of a new BBC drama about the style of music of behind that hit record — namely Ska and Two Tone! 

Peaky Blinders’ creator Steven Knight is once again drawing from his past as he offers up his latest drama This Town, set in the Birmingham and Coventry areas of the UK, and focusing on the world of ska and two-tone music which he grew up with. 

"This is the area where I grew up,’ explains Steven, who turns 65 who is also the co-creator of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. "There was this period in Coventry and Birmingham when people who were opposites suddenly came together, and I thought it would be interesting to tell this story of poor people in very different circumstances."

Starring Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery, Nicholas Pinnock (Marcella) and David Dawson, who recently starred alongside Harry Styles in My Policeman, the series opens in 1981 and focuses on four young people and their families who seek a second chance through music. And it’s against the backdrop of the ska scene, which united black, white and Asian youths, that we see the youngsters trying to forge their own paths in life. 

Here’s everything we know about BBC1 drama This Town so far…

Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. (Image credit: Getty)

This Town release date 

This Town is a six-part series that starts on BBC1 on  Sunday 31 March 2024 at 9pm, with the second episode showing the next evening on Monday 1 April at 9pm. All episodes of This Town will be available on BBC iPlayer from 6am Sunday 31 March.

Keep an eye on this page for any international or US air dates. The drama should be available on BBCiPlayer too.

Is there a trailer for This Town?

Yes there is a trailer for This Town which sets out what happens in the British midlands in the 1980s. The ska music scenes is taking off but there's social unrest. Take a look below..

This Town plot

This Town tells the story of a band’s formation against a backdrop of violence, capturing how creative genius can emerge from a time of madness.  It's both a thriller and a family saga and while the plot details are still very much under wraps, we do know it follows four young people, and their extended families, as they turn to the burgeoning ska and two-tone scene for redemption. 

It’s a scene that helps fight the racism that was so prevalent in the late 1970s and early 1980s and we see the youngsters rail against the social tension and unrest of the time to carve out their own futures. 

Episode one starts with lovestruck Birmingham poet Dante, who has been brought up by his protective father Deuce (Nicholas Pinnock), unwittingly stumbling into the 1981 Handsworth riots. Running from the cops, he hides in an outside toilet with young musician Jeannie (Eve Austin). 

Meanwhile, over in Belfast, his soldier brother Gregory (Jordan Bolger) is caught up in the Troubles, and in Coventry, their cousin Bardon (Ben Rose) is reluctantly helping his Irish father Eamonn (Peter McDonald) raise funds for the Republican cause, to the dismay of the boys’ grandmother, Marie. 

Neither Dante nor Bardon has a clear plan for the future, but circumstances conspire to bring them together, along with Jeannie and record shop employee Fiona (Freya Parks), who has caught Dante’s eye, on a musical odyssey. 

What follows is a love letter to the sights and sounds of working-class life in the Midlands in the early 1980s, with a soundtrack featuring songs from the time as well as reworkings of classic tracks by contemporary artists, and original songs that the newly formed band write and perform. 

This Town shows the Handsworth riots with young Dante Williams caughter up in it. (Image credit: BBC)
 Bardon Quinn (Ben Rose)  with his kooky mum Estella (Michelle Dockery). (Image credit: BBC)

This Town cast — Michelle Dockery, David Dawson and Nicholas Pinnock

At present the This Town roles and character haven’t been announced but we do know which actors will be starring in the series. 

Michelle Dockery on playing Estella 
Michelle Dockery play's Bardon Quinn's mother Estella (see her first look This Town picture below). 

"She’s kind of an outsider," Michelle explains. "She’s a struggling alcoholic, and not spending as much time with her son Bardon as she would like to. She’s also a singer, so that kind of gives you a clue as to how she gets involved. As soon as I read the scripts for the first time, I just loved her."

Music looms large in the lives of the characters, from Estella recalling her days as a performer to Dante turning his poems into lyrics and singer and dancer Bardon tiring of hearing his father’s rebel songs. 

"The music helps all of these characters in some way to express how they feel,’ says Michelle, 42. "For instance, Estella, who has been exiled from her estate for talking too much [about the IRA],  is carrying a lot of guilt, and beats herself up."

She adds that the nostalgic series brings back happy memories for her. "It takes you right back to your childhood," she says. "At the time, I was listening to a lot of the songs that have been used in the show, and I’ve loved being back in the 1980s, with the clothes and the shop windows and the advertising."

* Michelle is best known for her turn as Lady Mary Crawley in the hit series Downton Abbey plus the movie spin-offs. She’s also had roles in Defending Jacob, Anatomy of a Scandal, The Gentlemen, The Hollow Crown, Waking the Dead and Good Behavior

This Town sees Michelle Dockery play mum Estella. (Image credit: BBC)
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in the movie Downton Abbey: A New Era. (Image credit: Ben Blackall / © 2022 Focus Features LLC)

David Dawson 
David Dawson plays a gangster character in This Town. Last year David starred in Prime Video's My Policeman playing Patrick, the gay lover of Harry Styles’ character Tom. He also played King Alfred in the Netflix series The Last Kingdom and has had roles in Peaky Blinders, Ripper Street, Year of the Rabbit, All the Old Knives, Banished, Luther and The Hollow Crown

David Dawson at the mic in This Town. (Image credit: BBC)
David Dawson (on left), Harry Styles, Emma Corrin in My Policeman. (Image credit: Prime Video)

Nicholas Pinnock as Deuce Williams
Nicholas Pinncock plays Dante's father Deuce Williams. Previously he's played Jason Backland in the series Marcella and has also starred in EastEnders, Grange Hill, The Bill, Footballer’s Wives and Dalziel and Pascoe. More recently he’s been in Top Boy, Fortitude and Criminal: UK and he’ll be appearing in the upcoming projects Django, Drones and Black Dog

Nicholas Pinnock in Django. (Image credit: Sky Atlantic)

Meet Jordan Bolger, Ben Rose, Eve Austin and Levi Brown —the lead stars on starring in This Town

This Town's lead stars are Jordan Bolger (The Book of Boba Fett) as Gregory Williams, Ben Rose (Line of Duty) as Bardon Quinn, Eve Austin (YOU) as Jeannie and Levi Brown (the upcoming Loss and Return) as Dante Williams.

"My first impression of Dante was: 'I like this guy, he’s instinctive,'" says Levi Brown of his character who, as well as being a sensitive soul, is pretty handy with his fists. "Why is he doing and saying these things? I was intrigued that he can go from being in front of the area’s most dangerous gangster to being a romantic who goes the extra mile. He does things a bit differently, and he can't express the way he feels unless it’s through poetry or a song."

Ben Rose adds: "Bardon has such an interesting relationship with his dad Eamonn and his mum Estella. But he’s also struggling with his relationship with himself, and how to navigate that."

This Town stars Ben Rose, Levi Brown and Eve Austin. (Image credit: BBC)
Ben Rose as Bardon Quinn, with his father Eamonn (Peter McDonald) (Image credit: BBC)
Levi Brown as Dante Williams. (Image credit: BBC )
Gregory Williams as Jordan Bolger. (Image credit: BBC)

Who else is starring in This Town?

This Town also stars Geraldine James (Anne with an E), Peter McDonald (Dublin Murders), Freya Parks (Here We Go), Shyvonne Ahmmad (Annika), John Heffernan (Dracula), Stefan Asante-Boateng (Coronation Street), Séainín Brennan (The Fall), George Somner (This Is Going To Hurt), Geraldine James and Brendan Gibson (Peaky Blinders) round out the cast for the series.

Geraldine James in This Town. (Image credit: BBC)

Is there a trailer for This Town? 

There's no trailer for This Town yet but we can’t wait to see the 1980s ska scene come to life. In the meantime here's a clip below for The Specials famous 1981 song Ghost Town...

Behind the scenes, filming locations and more on This Town

This Town writer Steven Knight is of course famous for creating Peaky Blinders, but he's also adapted two Charles Dickens novels for BBC1 and Hulu —  A Christmas Carol in 2019 and Great Expectations in 2023.

Filming for This Town has been taking place in the Midlands in early 2023. In Wolverhampton dramatic riot scenes were shot involving overturned cars and a burnt-out van. Casting agents put out a call for 'skinheads and people with shaved heads' from in and around West Bromwich.

The series is co-produced with Mercury Studios (part of the Universal Music Group) who will bring in an exciting range of high profile musical artists to help lay the backdrop for Knight’s incredible story. Acclaimed producer Dan Carey, and Brit and Mercury nominated musician, novelist and poet Kae Tempest, have written the songs performed by the band in the series.

This Town is directed by Paul Whittington and produced by Charlotte Surtees and Tim Whitby. Executive Producers are Karen Wilson, Martin Haines and Katie McAleese for Kudos, and Jo McClellan for the BBC. Laura Conway (Kudos North), Matthew James Wilkinson (Stigma Films) and Nick Angel serve as Co-Executive Producers. Banijay Rights will handle international distribution for the series.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.