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Jimmy McGovern-penned Anthony Walker drama announced for BBC1


Story by Jack Foley

A NEW BBC1 drama based on the life of Liverpool teenager Anthony Walker has been written for BBC1 by Jimmy McGovern.

Anthony was a Liverpool teenager with a devout Christian faith and a love of basketball. Known to his family and friends for his humour, intelligence and compassion, Anthony was halfway through college with dreams of visiting America and studying Law at university.

On July 29, 2005 in Huyton, Merseyside, Anthony was murdered in a racist attack. He was 18 years old.

Anthony, a one-off 90-minute drama, is the story of the life he could have lived.

Inspired by conversations with Gee Walker, Anthony’s mother, about the boy Anthony was and the man he was to become, Anthony has been written by multi-BAFTA winner Jimmy McGovern (Broken, The Street, Cracker) and made by LA Productions for BBC One.

Anthony will be played by Toheeb Jimoh (The Power, Ted Lasso), while Rakie Ayola (Shetland, Noughts + Crosses) will portray Gee Walker.

The ensemble cast also includes Julia Brown (World On Fire), Bobby Schofield (Knightfall), Stephanie Hyam (Bodyguard), Gbemisola Ikumelo (Sex Education), Robinah Kironde (The Widow), Dominique Moore (A Confession), Phina Oruche (Taken Down), Siobhan McSweeney (Derry Girls), Shaniqua Okwok (Small Axe), Wesley Bozonga (Sliced), Leo Wringer (Black Earth Rising), Lorna Gayle (Carmilla), Jay Lycurgo (I May Destroy You), Josh Bolt (Last Tango In Halifax) and James Ledsham (Levelling The Score), who all play key roles in the film.

Gee Walker, Anthony Walker’s mother, commented: “I went to Jimmy because I couldn’t think of anyone more suited who could depict, highlight and draw attention to the hard messages of a life not lived – Anthony’s unfilled dreams, his potentials and the many lives he would have impacted on – which now will never be realised.”

McGovern added: “I’d known Gee Walker for many years and every time I had needed to write about loss or grief I had gone to her and she had always been generous with her time and her profound wisdom. But one day SHE came to ME and asked me to write about her beloved Anthony. I said, “Gee, if you’re asking such a thing, I feel I have a God-given duty to do it.” And so I did it.”

Toheeb Jimoh, who plays Anthony Walker, said: “Anthony’s story is a painfully tragic one but it’s also full of hope, joy, promise and love. Jimmy’s script captures that perfectly. I hope this film will serve as a tribute to Anthony and I feel truly honoured to have been asked to play him.”

And Rakie Ayola, who plays Gee Walker, said: “I’m so grateful we’ve been able to shine a light on Anthony Walker’s story with the blessing and generosity of his mother Gee Walker.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, commented: “When commissioning drama linked to real life, we consider carefully the individual lives at the heart of the drama but also the wider societal story it might tell. Anthony is a case in point.

“A unique blend of fiction and reality, steered by Jimmy McGovern’s conversations with Anthony’s mother Gee Walker, it is the story of a young man who tragically lost his life but also of a life he might have led. We are honoured to be telling it on BBC One.”

Anthony will be directed by Terry McDonough (Cold Feet, An Adventure In Space And Time, The Street) and produced by Donna Molloy and Colin McKeown. The film will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios.

Anthony was filmed in and around Liverpool, and will air on BBC1 later this year.

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