What is The Walk-In based on? The true story behind the Stephen Graham drama

This is an incredibly important watch

Stephen Graham as Matthew Collins in The Walk-In
(Image credit: ITV/Future)

The king of TV drama takes on the most incredible storyline in The Walk-In - but did it really happen?

When you hear the name Stephen Graham, you know you'll be in for a television treat, because everything he touches turns to acting gold. In The Walk-In, Graham takes on the role of Matthew Collins, who works for a charity attempting to stop the radicalisation of young white men. Collins does this by sending moles into far-right organisations, with the moles being known as walk-ins. Read on for how to watch the drama, and to find out what the incredible storyline is based on. 

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What is The Walk-In based on? The true story

Yes, The Walk-In is a true story based on a former neo-Nazi who raised the alarm over the planned murder of a Labour MP. He did this while acting as an informant for counter-extremism organisation Hope Not Hate.

According to The Independent, on July 1, 2017, 22-year-old Jack Renshaw walked into a Warrington Wetherspoons and told his friends of plans to assassinate an MP. He was part of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action and was looking for fellow members’ opinions on his actions - he planned to murder his local MP Rosie Cooper with a machete, and take hostages. 

Renshaw was wanted for child sex offences, and also planned to lure the officer investigating him to the scene. He wanted to murder her out of revenge, and let armed police to shoot him dead in the aftermath. Unknown to Renshaw, National Action member Robbie Mullen had turned informant for counter-extremism organisation Hope Not Hate.

Renshaw had begun researching Rosie Cooper’s itinerary, seeing the previous year’s murder of Jo Cox as easy due to her lack of security - he assumed Cooper would be as easy to get to. He had purchased a sword online, and researched how to kill people - specifically how long it would take for someone to die after having their throat slit.

Mullen reported nobody at the table attempted to talk Renshaw out of his plan, even suggesting alternative targets. Luckily acting as an informant, Mullen alerted Hope Not Hate. In turn, they contacted Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, and counterterror police immediately put Cooper under protection.

Events leading up to, and the foiling of the plot, form the basis of The Walk-In. Stephen Graham plays Matthew Collins, who was Mullen’s contact at Hope Not Hate. Collins has penned a book of the same name to accompany the series, with the only minor change to the story being Graham keeping his scouse accent, while Collins has a south London accent. 

The Walk In - Fascists, Spies & Lies by Matthew Collins £12.00 | Amazon

The Walk In - Fascists, Spies & Lies by Matthew Collins £12.00 | Amazon

Read about the real life events now a major dramatisation starring Stephen Graham

The Walk-In: Cast

  • Stephen Graham (Peaky Blinders, Help) as Matthew Collins
  • Leanne Best (Young Wallander, Cold Feet) as Alison
  • Jason Flemyng (Boiling Point, Save Me) as Nick Lowles
  • Andrew Ellis (This Is England, Clink) as Robbie Mullen
  • Dean-Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones, 1917) as Jack Renshaw
  • Bobby Schofield (The Suspect, Anne) as Matt Hankinson
  • Christopher Coghill (Home Fires, Eastenders) as Chris Lythgoe
  • Ezra Watson as Garron Helm
  • Shvorne Marks (The Baby, Breeders) as Brenda
  • Danny Cunningham (Emmerdale, Coronation Street) as Dean
  • Bryony Corrigan (The Goes Wrong Show) as Jo Cox
  • Samson Cox-Vinell (Young Wallander) as Zack Davies
  • David Nellist (A Confession) as Peter Fuller
  • Kate Robbins (After Life, EastEnders) as Robbie's mum
  • Molly McGlynn (Bridgerton, Coronation Street) as Robbie's sister
  • Ryan McKen (DI Ray, Bancroft) as DS Donker
  • Jodie Prenger (Coronation Street) as DC Buckley

Stephen Graham as Matthew Collins in The Walk-In

(Image credit: ITV)

Actor Jason Isaacs took to his Twitter account to share support for the Hope Not Hate organisation, and for the importance of the series. 

He said "I'll be glued to this. is an incredible organisation doing essential work to uncover and fight fascism in the UK. This is a true story of remarkable heroism and honour. You'll be gripped, moved and maybe even inclined to drop them a donation. #TheWalkIn @hopenothate".

How many episodes of The Walk-in?

There is a total of 5 episodes of The Walk-In, each one lasting one hour each. Episodes air weekly on Mondays at 9pm on ITV. You can catch up with the first episode now on ITV Hub.

In an official statement, the synopsis outlines the basis of the show, stating “Written by Oscar nominated and BAFTA multi award-winning screenwriter, Jeff Pope, the drama is an explosive state-of-the-world series that explores some of the most critical and relevant issues of modern times including racism, freedom of speech and terrorism.

It’s a thought-provoking, conscience stirring drama which poses timeless questions - What makes people fear and hate those who are different from themselves? Can someone’s view of the world be fundamentally changed?

Forced to flee the UK and go into hiding in the 1990’s when he became a mole from within the BNP, Michael Collins returned to Britain to make a new life for himself. The drama focuses upon Collins and his work to stop the radicalisation of young white men before it begins. 

We’ll see him identify a Far Right Neo-Nazi group marking itself out with a youthful clean-cut image, hell bent on creating race war. His modus operandi is to infiltrate such organisations by running moles, or walk-ins, with the goal of publishing information online about their activities to expose and fracture them.”

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.