Maxine Peake plays Anne Williams in the ITV drama Anne. Image: ITV
Anne’s 15-year-old son Kevin was one of the 97 Liverpool supporters unlawfully killed during the disaster in 1989. She fought for justice for more than two decades and died aged 60 of cancer in 2013.
The campaigner, who was from Formby, is being played by actress Maxine Peake, who portrays Anne’s determination to uncover the truth about what happened at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in April 1989.
Anne’s ‘steely determination’
The drama was filmed on location in and around Liverpool and directed by BAFTA award winning director, Bruce Goodison.
The four-part mini-series is written by Kevin Sampson, author of Hillsborough Voices, which depicts the tragic events of the day, and what unfolded in the days and years after the disaster.
Mr Sampson, a Liverpool fan and former commissioner at Channel 4 who went on to become a successful novelist and screenwriter, attended the 1989 semi-final as a fan and interviewed Anne Williams on several occasions for Hillsborough Voices.
He said: “From the first time I spoke to Anne I was struck by her steely determination. 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.”
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.”
‘Mum’s story was such a powerful and inspiring one’
Anne’s daughter Sara Williams explained that she thought very carefully before deciding to give the go ahead for the drama.
She said: “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.”
An accompanying documentary called The Real Anne - Unfinished Business, contains interviews with people who helped with the drama, including some conducted by Maxine Peake herself. It will be broadcast on January 6.
Anne will be shown on ITV from January 2 to January 5 at 21:00.