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Series / Summer of Rockets

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Written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff, the 2019 BBC2 miniseries Summer of Rockets is set in the UK during the tumultuous summer of 1958 and follows Samuel Petrukhin (Toby Stephens), a Russian-born Jewish inventor and businessman who specialises in manufacturing hearing aids.

Following the Soviet Union's launch of the first intercontinental ballistic missile and the start of the Space Race, fear permeates the lives of Samuel and his family. He becomes increasingly close to MP Richard Shaw (Linus Roache) and his wife Kathleen (Keeley Hawes), who are both traumatised by the disappearance of their son several years ago, which results in them growing close with Samuel's son, Sasha (Toby Woolf). At the same time, Samuel's daughter (Lily Sacofsky) rebels against her participation in The Season.



  • Author Appeal: A BBC comedy manages to derail an entire plot for Communists to invade Britain, through the power of laughter.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three main women in Samuel's wife: his daughter Hannah (blonde), his wife Miriam (brunette), and his almost lover Kathleen (redhead).
  • Chummy Commies: There's a very distinct possibility that they've infiltrated the English government. And they have.
  • Disability Superpower: The fact that Esther is deaf and can lipread helps her and Hannah out numerous times, especially when they run into Anthony's old friends at a party and find out what secret they're keeping from Kathleen.
  • End of an Age: Hannah is part of the last group of debutantes to be presented to the Queen, the practice having been abolished after the 1958 season as British society and the monarchy modernized.
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  • Heroic Russian Émigré: Russia is presented as disturbing, mysterious, and suspicious, while Samuel is totally loyal to England, although he never quite knows how to express it.
  • Informed Judaism: Invoked and Played for Drama. The Petrukhins are all known to be Jewish, but they aren't shown celebrating Jewish customs for the very fact that Samuel wishes them to be English gentlemen.
  • Laughably Evil: The conspiracy find their plot averted after the BBC paints them this way via a comedy sketch.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Samuel's daughter, Hannah, is being unwillingly presented to the Queen for the last ever season, but she's obsessed with the Cold War and wants to go partying with her new friend Esther.
  • Stepford Smiler: Kathleen is the clearest example due to her devastation about her son's disappearance, though her husband Richard, Samuel, and Courtney count.
  • Wham Line: In a surprising crossover with Make the Dog Testify, Samuel curses to himself in Russian — which the Team Pet, the "MI-5" dog, somehow recognises.
  • Wham Shot: In Episode 5, after being reassured that an anti-Semitic army major has nothing to do with them, he leaves and finds a photograph of Richard with the army general, looking very cosy.