Four-part mini-series ‘Anne’ has been written by Kevin Sampson

THE story of Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams has been written in a new television drama to be screened on ITV.  Award-winning actor Maxine Peake takes the leading role in Anne as the inspirational mother who dedicated her life to campaigning for justice.

Anne and her family’s story really is inspirational. She was a magnificent role model

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

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Hillsborough memorial service at St George's Hall, Liverpool Image: Confidentials

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, tracked down 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 other parents and relatives. 

Anne died in 2013 after a battle with cancer. Tragically, the Hillsborough activist did not live to see the day on 26 April 2016 when the inquest jury ruled that 96 people who died at the football stadium disaster in 1989 were unlawfully killed. 

Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster died on 27 July 2021, 32 years after being hurt at the semi-final. Last week, Andrew posthumously received the Freedom of the City of Liverpool.

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Maxine Peake plays Anne Williams in the new TV drama Image: ITV

The four-part mini-series Anne 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.

“From the first time I spoke to Anne I was struck by her steely determination,” said Kevin.

“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.”

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Mural in memory of Anne Williams by artist Paul Curtis Image: Confidentials

The television series has been developed with the support of Anne’s daughter, Sara, who was aged nine when her brother died.  Sara has carried on her Mum’s work and has assisted Kevin in the writing process.

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

“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.”

Speaking about her role as Anne Williams, Maxine Peake 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.”

Stephen Walters (Little Boy Blue, Shetland) plays Anne’s husband, Steve Williams. Also joining the stellar cast are Lily Shepard (Waterside), Bobby Schofield (Time, Anthony) and Clare Calbraith (Unforgotten, Baptiste).

'Anne' will launch on ITV on Sunday 2 January at 9pm. The series will be shown across four consecutive nights with the new documentary 'The Real Anne: Unfinished Business' broadcast on 6 January at 9pm.

Read next: Liverpool hosts world leaders at G7 summit

Read again: Hillsborough 96 awarded Liverpool's top honour

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