Irish Examiner view: ITV's Hillsborough drama is about ordinary people rising up

Dramatic retelling of the aftermath of the Hillsborough soccer stadium disaster will seek to inspire viewers
Irish Examiner view: ITV's Hillsborough drama is about ordinary people rising up

Anne Williams (left) who lost her son in the Hillsborough disaster at an FA Cup semi-final in 1989 is portrayed by Maxine Peake in 'Anne', a four-part series on ITV starting at 9pm on Thursday. Picture montage: ITV/PA

The ramifications and reverberations from the Hillsborough football stadium disaster 33 years ago this April continue to provide a testament to the human determination to achieve both justice and truth.

This will be writ large in a new TV series, which starts next Thursday, when Maxine Peake, one of the grittiest and most highly political of actors, undertakes the role of Anne Williams, the shopkeeper from Formby in Lancashire whose teenage son Kevin was among the 97 victims of the crush at the Sheffield Wednesday ground when it hosted an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. A further 766 people were injured, while 79 of those killed were aged between 10 and 29.

Inspirational story

Anne, to be screened over four nights, is the inspirational story of the 20-year campaign of an unassuming mother against misdirection, lies, and cover-up. Its scriptwriter, Kevin Sampson, who was at the ground that day, told Williams that, “compared to what she had been through, Erin Brockovich was light entertainment”. 

Williams did not live to see the production, nor the ramifications of more recent attempts to allocate responsibility when three police officers were all found not guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice on the direction of a judge in May because, he ruled, the original Taylor Inquiry of 1990 was “not a court of law”. 

The leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, called the lack of accountability over Hillsborough “the greatest scandal of British policing of our lifetimes”.

Williams died prematurely from cancer in 2013. She sought to know what had happened to her “little boy”. As for the writer, he hopes that viewers will be inspired by “seeing the little people rise up in adversity to become mighty”. 

No one who watches Anne will argue with that expectation.

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