Doreen and Neville Lawrence’s long, difficult struggle to get justice for their murdered son, Stephen, is to be made in to a three-part television drama.
ITV announced on Monday it had commissioned a sequel to its Bafta-winning 1999 single drama, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, which was written and directed by Paul Greengrass.
Both parents are supporting the project, saying it has added importance because of institutional racism concerns raised by the Black Lives Matter campaigns.
The series will be set in 2006, 13 years after Stephen was murdered by a gang of racists while he was waiting for a bus in Eltham, south-east London.
Even though the Lawrences knew the identity of their son’s killers, the original investigation failed to convict anybody. Their campaign for justice led to a public inquiry that branded the Metropolitan police racist and brought sweeping changes to law and police practices.
The drama will tell the story of the Lawrences’ struggle and how a detective, DCI Clive Driscoll, put together an investigation that finally – 18 years after Stephen’s murder – secured the conviction of two members of the gang.
The Greengrass drama will be repeated by ITV on 16 July, preceded by a live discussion entitled Stephen Lawrence: Has Britain Changed? presented by Rageh Omaar and Anushka Asthana of the Guardian.
Lady Doreen Lawrence said she was pleased the original drama was being shown again as the events they portrayed were even more relevant today.
“I am aware that the experience of police racism that we suffered as a family has been the experience of many in the UK. I hope that the film and the drama which has been commissioned will provide some insight into what we went through and give some hope to others that justice can eventually prevail.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Neville Lawrence. “That first film was important in telling Stephen’s story,” he said. “It is important that the next part of the story is told, particularly at a time when, thanks to the Black Lives Matter campaign, concerns around institutional racism are so prominent.
“The recent BLM protests have served to remind people that black men and women continue to be subjected to racially motivated attacks. It was true when Stephen was killed and it still happens.
“It has always been my view that the most powerful response to racism is non-violent resistance and I am heartened to see people from all backgrounds who have come together peacefully across the country to show they will not tolerate racist attitudes. I hope this new film will further help raise awareness.”
The new drama has been written by father and son Frank and Joe Cottrell Boyce. It will be directed by Alrick Riley and includes as executive producers Greengrass and the Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio. Casting will be announced closer to filming, ITV said.
It has been commissioned by ITV’s head of drama, Polly Hill. She said the original film could only take the story so far.
“It’s important to remember just how long it took Doreen and Neville to get a conviction for two of the men responsible for the death of their son Stephen. Frank and Joe have written beautiful scripts and I am delighted to have Alrick on board to direct this important drama.”