Maxine Peake takes the leading role in new ITV drama, Anne, which will air on ITV in 2022.
Peake plays Anne Williams, an inspirational mother who dedicated her life to campaigning for justice following her son Kevin’s tragic death at Hillsborough.
Anne has been produced by World Productions (The Pembrokeshire Murders, Line of Duty, Vigil) and commissioned by ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill. The drama was filmed on location in and around Liverpool and directed by BAFTA award winning director, Bruce Goodison (Murdered by My Father, Born to Kill, Home Fires).
Campaigner Anne, from Formby, near Liverpool, was devastated by the loss of 15-year-old Kevin, who died at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest played at Hillsborough in April 1989.
Refusing to accept the Coroner’s original verdict of accidental death, Anne was determined to unearth the truth about what happened at Hillsborough. She sought out new medical opinions, trackeddown witnesses who had tried to revive Kevin on the pitch and lobbied ministers for new inquests.
At times to the cost of her own family and health, Anne stood defiant for over 20 years alongside the parents and relatives who fought to prove that their loved ones had been unlawfully killed at a football match.
Stephen Walters (Little Boy Blue, Shetland) joins Maxine Peake (Three Girls, Hamlet) to play Anne’s husband, Steve Williams. Also joining the cast are Lily Shepherd (Waterside), Bobby Schofield (Time, Anthony) and Clare Calbraith (Unforgotten, Baptiste).
Produced by Julia Stannard (Trigger Point, Vanity Fair, War & Peace, Great Train Robbery), the four-part mini-series is written by Kevin Sampson, author of the book Hillsborough Voices, which depicts the tragic events of the day, and what unfolded in the days and years after the disaster. Sampson attended the 1989 semi-final as a fan and interviewed Anne Williams on several occasions for Hillsborough Voices.
Commented Kevin Sampson: “From the first time I spoke to Anne I was struck by her steely determination. Nothing and nobody were going to deter her from her ultimate aim – justice for Kevin and the 95 who died with him at Hillsborough. Anne’s is a story of a mother’s love being stronger than any opponent or obstacle. She refused to lie down, and it’s an honour that her family has entrusted us with telling her inspirational story.”
Speaking about her role as Anne Williams, Maxine said: “Anne Williams was an extraordinary woman who spent half her life campaigning for the truth of her son’s death and the other 95 victims who were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough. Anne and her family’s story really is inspirational. She was a magnificent role model. Her fearlessness and drive to take on the British Establishment is mind blowing. I hope we can go some way to bringing the story of Anne, the families, victims and survivors of Hillsborough to an even wider audience.”
On commissioning the drama Polly Hill said: “This drama is dedicated to Anne Williams and her diligent and tireless campaign for truth and justice. She was an inspiration and I am so proud that ITV can tell her story and tell it so powerfully thanks to World Productions and this incredible team, with a special thanks to Maxine Peake for her phenomenal performance as Anne.”
The series has been developed with the support of Anne’s daughter, Sara, who was aged 9 when her brother died. Sara has carried on her Mum’s work and has assisted Kevin in the writing process.
Sara Williams said: “I thought very carefully before deciding to go ahead with the ITV drama, Anne.
“Mum’s story was such a powerful and inspiring one, and we all remember how important she felt it was to get the message out there and bang the drum for justice.
“Over the years there has been a number of expressions of interest in dramatising her story, but the key factor for me was the involvement of people I knew personally, and who also have a deep understanding of Hillsborough, our story and all the elements around that.
“I am excited, as well as a little bit scared, for viewers to see my Mum’s story, but I just felt it was the right thing to do. Alongside some very talented people, we have given everything to ensure we produce a series that does justice to my mum, our Kev, the 97 and everyone involved with Hillsborough.”
CEO of World Productions and Creative Director Simon Heath is the drama’s executive producer. He said: “We were honoured to be given the opportunity by Sara and the Williams family to bring to the screen Anne’s extraordinary and inspiring story.”
ITV Studios will be responsible for the international distribution of the drama.
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