The network premiere of Mike Leigh’s shocking historical drama, Peterloo, recounts the infamous 1819 massacre at St Peter’s Field in Manchester, when the British cavalry, sabres drawn, were ordered to crush thousands of people peacefully protesting for workers’ rights.
In this Film4 co-production, Maxine Peake and Pearce Quigley star alongside David Moorst in a working family – their son (Moorst) returns home from the Napoleonic Wars only to be caught up in industrial conflict closer to home.
While spies and agitators move among the workers’ gatherings, secretly listening to their speeches, soldiers return to an exploited life in which their sacrifice and achievement goes unrewarded while the spoils and glory of victory at Waterloo fall on the feted shoulders of the Duke of Wellington.
Into this bitter crucible enters the radical political reformer and workers’ champion Henry Hunt (Rory Kinnear), who is there to address workers at a rally at St Peter’s Field. As time goes on however, things become heated and the rest, as they say, is history.
Peterloo – Monday at 9:00pm on Film4.