The fatal 1989 Hillsborough disaster is a devastating tragedy many of us remember watching unfold. Now, 32 years later, ITV’s new drama Anne painfully brings to life the horrifying reality of that fatal day and the years that followed.
Across four beautifully made but brutal episodes, the show tells the story of the collective pain of the families of the 97 victims, and the fight for justice through the eyes of the Williams family.
Anne Williams (Silk and Three Girls actress Maxine Peake) and her husband Steve ( Little Boy Blue star Stephen Walters) lived in Formby, near Liverpool, with their children, including 15-year-old, football-mad son Kevin.
After Kevin begged them to let him go to the FA cup semi-final match between his home team Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, Anne and Steve eventually gave in.
But as Anne waved goodbye to her young son as he excitedly made his way to join the crowds, she had no idea it would be the last time that she would see him, after he found himself caught in the horrific crush.
“Anne was living a happy family life with husband Steve and the kids. They were a really happy family,” award-winning actress Maxine explains. “And then Hillsborough happens and everything changes…”
The hard-hitting drama relives these moments, before continuing to capture the agonising hours that followed as Anne, Steve and the rest of the nation crumbled as they watched the events on TV.
But worse was to come when they were told their son had lost his life on the pitch and they were forced to identify him.
After Kevin’s passing, Anne became determined to prove that her son had not died in vain and somehow found the strength to seek justice for not only her boy, but everyone else who so unjustly lost their lives.
Refusing to accept the coroner’s original verdict of accidental death, Anne set about exposing the truth about what happened at Hillsborough – and left no stone unturned in her mission.
The series documents her tireless efforts against all odds, even when it brought more pain to her and her family, including the breakdown of her marriage to Steve.
Speaking about taking on the role of the late campaigner, who passed away in 2013, Maxine said it was an honour to shine a light on her and her late son.
Maxine, who met Anne’s daughter Sara in preparation for the role, explained, “I feel very lucky and honoured to have played Anne.”
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“These roles are real gifts because they are bigger than just a job and the time you are on set, or the drama being screened afterwards.”
She added, “I’ve done a few of these roles, where I’ve got to meet brilliant people through them.”
“And those relationships are something you take with you. It’s not a case of just switching them off after you finish. Somebody gave me that gift of being able to step into Anne’s shoes and represent her.”
And even though it’s more than three decades since the tragedy, Maxine firmly believes it’s important that the victims’ legacies live on.
“We must remind people of what happened. We must never forget. Because it isn’t over,” Maxine concludes. “I have had people say to me, ‘Oh, it’s 30 years ago. People need to move on.’
“But it feels to me the trauma just goes through generation to generation. There are some extraordinary human beings in the story of Hillsborough.”
“Anne’s story was chosen for this drama. But it’s not just Anne. She was one of many, many men and women who dedicated their life to this and did so much to fight for justice.”
For more about upcoming TV dramas, sign up to our daily OK! newsletter. Anne airs on ITV from 2nd January at 9pm
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