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TV: Story of Hillsborough mum’s 20-year fight for truth behind tragedy

© Justin SleeMaxine Peake as inspirational Hillsborough campaigner Anne in harrowing drama.
Maxine Peake as inspirational Hillsborough campaigner Anne in harrowing drama.

January is traditionally when we all try to start afresh but Maxine Peake is aiming to keep on as she has. With stellar work in her back catalogue including Shameless, Silk and The Village behind her, there’s no need for a change in direction for the Mancunian actor.

She’s set to star in four-part thriller Rules Of The Game on BBC1 next week; first she’s taking the lead role in powerful drama Anne on ITV.

The award-winning actress and writer plays Anne Williams, an inspirational mother who dedicated her life to campaigning for justice following her son Kevin’s death in the Hillsborough disaster.

Campaigner Anne, from Formby, near Liverpool, was devastated by the loss of 15-year-old football fan Kevin, who died in the tragedy at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989.

Refusing to accept the Coroner’s original verdict of accidental death, Anne was determined to unearth the truth about what happened. She sought out new medical opinions, tracked down witnesses who had tried to revive Kevin on the pitch and lobbied ministers for new inquests.

Her battle came at a cost, mainly to 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.

“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,” said Peake.

“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.”

The series has been developed with the support of Anne’s daughter, Sara, who was nine when her brother died. Sara has carried on her mum’s work and has assisted writer Kevin Sampson in creating Anne.

“I thought very carefully before deciding to go ahead with the ITV drama,” she said.

“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.

“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.”

Anne, ITV, tonight, 9pm