The BBC has commissioned Expectation to make Floodlights, a new feature-length single drama for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It tells the story of Andy Woodward, the former professional footballer whose  revelations about the sexual abuse he suffered as a youth player sent shockwaves throughout the industry.

Floodlights is written by screenwriter, Matt Greenhalgh (Control, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) and directed by Nick Rowland (Calm With Horses, Hard Sun). It is produced by Expectation in association with Only the Best.

Gerard Kearns (The Last Kingdom, Shameless) portrays Andy Woodward, with Jonas Armstrong (Hollington Drive, The Bay), Morven Christie (Lockwood & Co, The A Word), and Steve Edge (Benidorm, The Madame Blanc Mysteries) also starring.

In November 2016, Andy found the strength to go public about sexual abuse by his youth coach, Barry Bennell. After doing so, hundreds more men, many also victims of Bennell, found the courage to speak up about their harrowing experiences of abuse, lifting the lid on a national scandal in the country’s most popular sport.

The factual drama depicts Andy’s life, from a boy with a passion for the game to a successful professional footballer who seemingly has the world at his feet, until, no longer able to ignore the haunting memories of the abuse he was subject to by his youth coach, his career is cut short. It examines the power and control held by Bennell, grooming young players and their families with the promise of making their dreams come true.

Floodlights is made with the full cooperation of Andy Woodward.

Andy Woodward said: “Since speaking out in 2016 I wanted to continue to encourage people to talk without fear, to make a change. Floodlights tells my story, which no child should ever have to go through. I hope this film helps to stop abuse in football and in all areas of life.”

Gerard Kearns, said: “I am honoured to be playing Andrew Woodward and hope that we have done his story justice.”

Matt Greenhalgh, said: “I was in the crowd at Maine Road when Bury FC beat my team, Manchester City, 0-1 in 1998. Andy Woodward was playing for Bury.. and was outstanding. When his brutal story broke I remember being stunned not only by the magnanimity of his courage, but by how this could happen in our national sport. His horrific revelations were undoubtedly a pivotal moment for football… but also for many, many men. Andy’s story more than deserves telling as drama, so that it can keep on telling, and informing the next generation of parents and kids. And I am very proud to be part of his honourable fight to expose those who prey on children in any walk of life.”

Colin Barr, creative director, factual and factual drama at Expectation and executive producer said: “Andy Woodward didn’t set out to be a hero, but he certainly became one. Growing up in the world of youth football in the eighties I witnessed first-hand the power coaches had over teenage players, and I can only imagine the courage it took for Andy to speak up, even years later. People didn’t see – or didn’t want to see – the shadow of abuse in the game, and only now are we beginning to understand the full horror of what happened. I hope this film is one more step towards acknowledging that and making sure it can never happen again.”

Floodlights (1×80’) was commissioned by Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama and Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer. Executive producers are Colin Barr for Expectation, Lucy Richer and Clare Sillery for the BBC and Sue Horth and Grant Best.

Expectation is part of BBC Studios portfolio of invested indie production companies with whom they hold a minority share. BBC Studios will distribute the 1 x 80 single drama internationally.

Floodlights will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer this Spring.

Pippa Considine

Share this story

Share Televisual stories within your social media posts.
Be inclusive: is open access without the need to register.
Anyone and everyone can access this post with minimum fuss.