BBC2 boss Patrick Holland and BBC drama controller Piers Wenger have commissioned a feature-length drama about England’s minimum age of criminal responsibility from Kudos and 72 Films.
Based on real events, Responsible Child is the story of Ray, a 12-year-old boy on trial for murder. 12-year-old Billy Barratt (Blinded by the Light, The White Princess) takes the titular role and is joined by Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones, Suits), Tom Burke (Souvenir, Strike) and Stephen Campbell Moore (The History Boys, The Last Post).
Also starring is Owen McDonnell (Killing Eve), Shaun Dingwall (Noughts and Crosses, Topboy), Debbie Honeywood (Sorry We Missed You, Vera), Angela Wynter (Le Miserables) and James Tarpey (Our Robot Overlords).
Told in two time frames, Responsible Child follows both the events that led up to the murder and the unfolding drama of the trial.
Ray (Barratt) and his 23-year-old brother Nathan (Tarpey) are arrested after stabbing their mother’s partner. Whatever the circumstances that have led a child to kill, the law is clear: the age of criminal responsibility is 10, and at 12 years-old, Ray must stand trial in adult court.
Written by Sean Buckley (Skins), Responsible Child takes the audience inside a young boy’s experience of the legal system, asking powerful questions about responsibility and redemption.
Responsible Child is directed by BAFTA award-winning documentary maker Nick Holt (Between Life and Death, The Murder Trial), who makes his drama directorial debut. Elinor Day (Killing Eve) produces, with Karen Wilson (Deep Water, Utopia) and Katie McAleese (The Living and The Dead) serving as Executive Producers for Kudos, Lucy Richer and Ayela Butt for the BBC and Mark Raphael for 72 Films.
Nick Holt, Director, says “Whilst making The Murder Trial I discovered that in England, we put children as young as 10 on trial for murder. It’s an extraordinary and little-known aspect of our justice system. 10 is one of the lowest ages in the world and breaches our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time, since I attended the trial on which our film is based, and I’m delighted to be working with Kudos and the BBC.”
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says “Responsible Child raises one of the most complex and challenging questions of our time. Nick and Sean’s extraordinary film explores the age of criminal responsibility in England and takes us to the heart of the legal question: in the most severe of cases, “should a child be tried as an adult or child?” We are hugely indebted to them for the sensitive, nuanced and empathetic approach to telling this harrowing true story on BBC Two.”
Karen Wilson, Managing Director and Executive Producer for Kudos, says “With Responsible Child, we try to explore the multiple shades of grey involved in such complicated cases of criminal responsibility, where the law is seemingly so black and white. We are delighted to bring Sean’s incredible scripts to life, with the brilliantly talented Nick Holt, on his scripted directorial debut, and that we have such a fabulous cast to help us tell the story of Ray and his family.”
Responsible Child is a 1×90’ film for BBC Two by Kudos and 72 Films. Commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, and Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, the Executive producers are Karen Wilson and Katie McAleese for Kudos, Mark Raphael for 72 Films and Lucy Richer and Ayela Butt for the BBC.
It will be distributed globally by Endemol Shine International.
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