Screenwriter Jimmy McGovern dedicates Freedom of Liverpool nomination to Hillsborough victims

Screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has been nominated along with Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough football disaster.

Time is written by UK screenwriter Jimmy McGovern (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: Matt Squire and James Stack

Award-winning screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has said he is “overwhelmed” after being nominated for the Freedom of Liverpool alongside Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough tragedy.

Speaking about the nomination, Mr McGovern said that his drama about Hillsborough is his greatest play and that to be recognised “by my home city means more to me than any award”.

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Mr Devine passed away in July this year due to complications resulting from life-changing injuries following the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in April 1989.

Andrew Devine, died aged 55 in July this year, 32 years after the Hillsborough disaster

His name will join the other 96 victims unlawfully killed in the tragedy, who were posthumously awarded the city’s freedom in September 2016.

Mr McGovern and Mr Devine’s nomination, along with one for the YMCA, will be heard in Liverpool Town Hall at a council meeting on Wednesday, 8 December.

Once the nomination is accepted, Mr McGovern will then be invited to receive the Freedom of Liverpool next year.

Why was Jimmy McGovern nominated?

Liverpool City Council said the screenwriter’s nomination is in tribute to his multi award-winning career, with TV dramas such as Hillsborough, Cracker, The Lakes, The Street, The Accused and Moving On.

In June this year, his drama Time, starring Stephen Graham and Sean Bean, was supported by the Liverpool City Region Film Production Fund.

Jimmy McGovern.

His contribution to British TV, film and theatre over the past 40 years has been wide-ranging, as a writer, co-writer and producer, that also includes the launch of the Channel 4 soap Brookside in 1982, the 1994 film Priest, and the 2007 slavery play, King Cotton, which was commissioned for Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture.

The 72-year-old and lifelong Liverpool FC fan, is also cited for placing the pursuit of truth and justice at the heart of his writing, most famously 25 years ago in the 1996 docu-drama Hillsborough.

The ITV BAFTA-winning drama has been heralded as the catalyst to overturn the findings of the original inquest.

His work has also explored the Liverpool dockers’ strike and the life of murdered black Liverpool teenager Anthony Walker, who was killed in a racist attack in 2005.

Mr McGovern, a former pupil of St Francis Xavier’s College, Woolton, once worked as a bus conductor and English teacher and his work has seen him receive multiple awards, including four BAFTAs, two Edgar awards, two international Emmy awards and a Lifetime Achievement award from the Royal Television Society.

He said: “Oh wow, wow, wow! What can I say? I’m overwhelmed. To be recognised by my home city means more to me than any award.

“I’ve always tried throughout my career to give something back to Liverpool and have had to fight, at times, to have my work filmed there. To receive this nomination at a time when the city’s TV and film industry is on the rise, gives me immense pleasure.

“I’ve also worked very hard to give a voice to those who society choose to ignore, especially victims of injustice, so for my nomination to celebrate that is hugely vindicating.

“For me, Hillsborough is my greatest play. It may not be my best written, but it’s the one that I hold closest to my heart and the only script I’ve kept a copy of in a safe.

“To be nominated along with Andrew, and to join the other 96 men, women and children whose lives were unlawfully taken away that day at Hillsborough, on that roll of honour is truly humbling.

“Of course to be seen alongside icons and heroes such as The Beatles, the Mersey poets, Sir Kenny and Bob Paisley gives me a huge thrill, but it’s the 97 that I feel the most honour to be next to and to whose memory I dedicate my nomination.”

‘One of Liverpool’s greatest sons’

Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Mary Rasmussen, said: “There is something wonderful and poetic that Full Council will receive the nomination for Freedom of Liverpool for Jimmy McGovern on the same day as Andrew Devine, the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster.

“We all know how much Hillsborough means to Jimmy, not just professionally, but on a human level too, and we all know how much happiness it will bring him to see that his nomination will be forever connected with all those that were unlawfully killed that day. I’m sure their families and the survivors, whose story he strove so hard to tell when no-one wanted to listen, will be delighted too.

“Jimmy writes from the heart, and what a heart! And what makes him stand out is that his unique gifts for compassion, listening and storytelling are not something that he has kept to himself. There’s a huge cast of writers whose careers he has generously mentored and developed, helping to make Liverpool what it is today - a city of storytellers and film-makers.

“To coin his latest hit, it’s time Jimmy McGovern was recognised for what he is - one of Liverpool’s greatest sons.”

Lynn Saunders, Head of Liverpool Film Office and who nominated Mr McGovern, said: “As a writer and story-teller Jimmy McGovern has no equal in British TV drama.

“Jimmy has had his finger on the pulse of our country for almost 40 years and has consistently put a mirror up to many of the issues we often don’t want to look at, or hear about, asking the most difficult questions and thanks to his genius making us want to find the answer long after the credits have rolled.

“Liverpool is very fortunate to have Jimmy and I can think of no better way of celebrating our Year of Writing than thanking him for all the stories he has championed, all the careers he has helped launch and support, and all the productions he has brought to our door than to make him a Freeman of the city he so dearly loves.”