Based on a true story that shocked a nation, this powerful four-part factual drama, from BAFTA winning writer and executive producer Jeff Pope (Appropriate Adult, The Widower), centres on the devastating impact on a city of an innocent child’s murder amid a wave of gang violence.
Little Boy Blue focuses on the murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones in Croxteth, Liverpool, in 2007. It explores Melanie’s and Steve’s ordeal, and tells the story of how Rhys’s murderer and associates were eventually brought to justice.
Melanie and Steve Jones support the making of this drama, which is based on careful research.
Stephen Graham (Taboo, This is England) takes the role of Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly who led the investigation into Rhys’s murder on behalf of Merseyside Police, while Sinead Keenan (Being Human) and Brian F. O’Byrne (Million Dollar Baby, Prime Suspect) play Melanie and Steve Jones.
Stephen Graham tells us more…
Q: How did you become involved in Li#le Boy Blue?
“My agent sent it to me. She said, ‘I think you would like this project.’ I read it and I literally couldn’t stop crying. I thought it was amazing and felt Jeff Pope had handled the sensi*vity of the story incredibly well. “Then I went to meet Jeff, the producer Kwadjo Dajan and the director Paul WhiHngton. I knew straight away I wanted to be a part of it. I was born in Kirkby, which is 10 minutes down the road from where liele Rhys lived. I remember when the shoo*ng happened. I haven’t lived in Liverpool for over 20 years but I remember the impact it had on the city. “This story is not just specific to Liverpool. It’s universal. The incident happened in Liverpool so it’s about that togetherness and coming together as a community and as people. But these kind of things were happening in London, in Birmingham, Manchester. “At that *me it was like a post code war. That gang mentality. That someone was in the ‘wrong’ place trespassing on other people’s territory. Which, to us, is ridiculous, but to those people involved that was everything to them. It’s moronic. I can’t understand it and I’ll never be able to understand it.”
Q: Did you meet Dave Kelly?
“Kwadjo asked me if I would like to meet Dave Kelly and I said, ‘Of course, I’d love to.’ Just to meet the man and shake his hand. Because I think his dedica*on, convic*on and willingness to want to get to the truth and make these people be responsible for what they had done was amazing. “We went to his house and had a cup of tea. What I wanted to know was why this meant so much to him? What was it about this that gave him that desire and drive to wake up every morning and just keep going? No maeer what barriers were in his way he just kept on going. “That tenacity I found astonishing. For someone to have that much convic*on. To want to not just do the right thing but want everybody to pay for what they had done. “I asked him, ‘What was it that drove you?’ For me the key point in the script was the moment when he saw liele Rhys’s body at the post mortem in the pathology lab. I asked him about that. That’s when I saw the chink in Dave’s armour and the tears that came there. That’s when he showed me what it was that truly drove him. The fact this young boy was dead for no reason at all.”
Q: What are your thoughts about those involved in the shoo:ng?
“What I tried to do was not to chas*se these young people. This drama makes a great social comment. Why is this happening? And if it is a genera*onal thing, don’t we have an obliga*on to look at the backgrounds of these children and where they’re from? And look at why these things are happening? It’s very easy to chas*se. Well, I’m from that area but I hope I turned out OK. You can’t just paint everything with the one colour. You have to look at it socially. “I was lucky when I was a kid. We had the youth centres and football clubs. But predominantly it was the youth centre which was the core for us. That’s where we all used to go. I’d come home, do my homework, have my tea, watch Neighbours and I’d be in the youth club for ten past six. Then I’d be there un*l 9pm and then I’d go home. “It was a place where young people could talk to somebody if they found they couldn’t talk to their parents. There were people there who you could communicate with and you could explain what was going on in your head. Because it’s not easy growing up at *mes. There are things you need to talk about. And, for me, that was the hub of where I grew up. It wasn’t gangs for us. “We had hope. And the fact I used to go to the Everyman Theatre and I was geHng into the ac*ng. All right, there were a lot of lads who used to go, ‘What are you doing that ac*ng thing for? But they understood it was something I wanted to do. “My mother and father and all of my family gave me that support. I’m not lucky. It’s just the way I was raised and where I was from. But there were kids who were going down a certain route and the youth centre kept them on the straight and narrow.”
Q: Li#le Boy Blue was filmed at some of the original loca:ons. That must have been emo:onal at :mes?
“We filmed Rhys’s funeral at Liverpool Cathedral, where it actually took place. It was a big day. A very heavy day. The coffin was a replica of the actual coffin. “I’m a firm believer in truth. As actors, we have to put ourselves in that situa*on. To the best of our ability. I use my children in those circumstances. Hopefully it’s something that would never happen. But you have to be able to put your mind in that posi*on and you have to go to those places in yourself to try and pull out the truth in the scene. “For me, it was the poem that was read out at the funeral that got me. I said to Jeff, ‘That poem you’ve wrieen was amazing. I just couldn’t stop crying.’ And Jeff said, ‘I’d love to take the credit for that. But I can’t. They were Steve’s actual words.’ Which then made it hit home even more”.
Watch Little Boy Blue now via itv hub.