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27 July 2020 12:37

Liverpool Lord Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson

Jimmy McGovern has created a fictionalised drama around the unprovoked killing of black teenager Anthony Walker in Liverpool in 2005. He is now a free man, and in this film explains how he made the confessions to gain attention at a time he was extremely lonely. Powerful and poignant new BBC drama Anthony follows Killing Eve by using The Big Issue as shorthand for hope, redemption and fairness The new drama by Jimmy McGovern is tough to watch though a lot of it is, in an odd way, steeped in joy. We witness a young man falling in love, helping others, becoming a powerhouse in his community, starting a family, and preparing to embark on a career as a civil rights lawyer. However, Anthony, which airs on BBC1 on Monday 27 July and can be seen on iPlayer is the story of a life that may have been lived had Anthony Walker not been murdered aged 18 in a racist attack by two white men in Huyton, Merseyside in 2005.

The power and poignancy of the film lies in the fact that all this joy we witness, all this potential achievement, died with Anthony 15 years ago this summer. McGovern was asked to write the one-off film by Walker's mother, Gee. In this week's Big Issue, the writer says: "I didn't want to tell Anthony's story. I'm an old white man and Gee Walker (Anthony's mother) was asking me to write about her son, a young black man. Nobody in Liverpool can say no to Gee Walker. I am bloody certain that, like me, Anthony would have considered The Big Issue to be a wonderful initiative In a long and pivotal early scene, with the fictional Anthony aged 25, we see him engage with a young man selling The Big Issue.

He comes back to this young man experiencing homelessness and issues with addiction and, true to his deep-held Christian beliefs, refuses to pass by on the other side of the street. So why, when McGovern needed to show Anthony's strong principles and unswerving faith in the possibility of hope and redemption, did he instinctively reach to our magazine. "There's now no way of knowing what Anthony thought of The Big Issue but he had a deep sense of social justice and dreams of becoming a lawyer and working in civil rights," McGovern tells us. "So I am bloody certain that, like me, he would have considered The Big Issue to be a wonderful initiative." The Big Issue, in this context, represents something important – hope and faith and the potential for redemption. This is not the first time The Big Issue has been invoked as shorthand in a piece of high quality popular culture this year.

In the most recent series of Killing Eve, we watched in horror as Eve Polastri (played by Sandra Oh) confessed to having never bought The Big Issue. As well as being a good deed and a great read, The Big Issue is, these days, a powerful cultural signifier. Only this summer, actor Daniel Mays referred to The Big Issue as "the lifeblood of our high streets". And on the high street, for the cost of a fancy coffee, readers and buyers of The Big Issue can signal their determination to do good, their empathy towards those in need by buying a magazine and, pro-actively joining the fight against poverty by offering someone a hand-up, not a hand-out. Gee Walker, appeared on Good Morning Britain from her Merseyside home to speak about BBC One film Anthony which will document how the devout Christian was brutally killed on 29th July 2005 in Huyton.

The mother, who was directly involved in making the drama, told how Anthony was 'the son every mother dreamed of' and called the teenager 'the epitome of goodness'. She then urged viewers to watch the 90-minute film, which envisages the life he could have lived, with an 'open heart' and told how it will detail 'moments of racism' encountered by Anthony throughout his life. The mother of Anthony Walker, who was murdered in a racist attack in Liverpool aged 18, has called racism a 'disease' which causes 'pain and suffering' Devout Christian Anthony (pictured) was brutally killed at the age of 18 in a racist attack on 29th July 2005 in Huyton, Merseyside Speaking of the film, Gee said: 'It has been in the making for two years, but things happen, Covid and George Floyd and I just hope people watch it with an open heart. 'There are moments of racism throughout, so welcome to the school of Anthony Walker. Gee Walker, appeared on Good Morning Britain from her Merseyside home, where she hailed her son 'caring and sensitive' and 'wise beyond his years' Anthony was a Liverpool teenager with a devout Christian faith and a love of basketball. Gee called her son 'every mother's dream' and hailed the 'caring and sensitive' teen, who was 'wise beyond his years'. Every mother's dream,' said Gee. BBC programme Anthony will tell the story of the life devout Christian Anthony could have lived. Anthony will be played by Toheeb Jimoh (pictured) Speaking of the incident, Gee said: 'In brief, they were walking to the bus stop to catch a bus and started to get racially abused from across the road. 'Being Anthony, caring and protective, he said "Let's walk away and go to the next bus stop" And they drove ahead and waited for him and took him out'. 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. (Pictured, actor Toheeb Jimoh as Anthony in Jimmy McGovern's latest work) The film was made by award-winning screenwriterJimmy McGovern, from Liverpool, following in-depth conversations with Gee, about the boy Anthony was and the man it was hoped he would become. Anthony will be played by Toheeb Jimoh, and Gee explained that after the read-through for the show, she knew the actor was the right person to portray her son. He reached out to me as Anthony would, because we are a huggy family, so I knew the deal was sealed.' BBC drama Anthony airs on BBC One on Monday July 27th at 8.30pm Jimmy McGovern's powerful drama imagines what Anthony Walker's life could have been if he had not been murdered at 18. Plus: Secrets from EastEnders. A deeply moving feature-length drama from the writer Jimmy McGovern and the director Terry McDonough, imagining life as it might have been for Liverpudlian Anthony Walker, who was murdered in a racist attack at the age of 18 in 2005. In this fictional alternate universe, Anthony (played by Toheeb Jimoh) is a young man intent on helping others, namely his now-homeless schoolmate Mick. Based on conversations McGovern had with Walker's mother, it is a powerful testimony to what could have, and should have, been. EastEnders: Secrets from the Square