‘Little Boy Blue’, the ITV drama telling the real-life tragedy of how schoolboy Rhys Jones was fatally shot on his way home from football training, began last night, with the beginning of the four-parter leaving viewers both weeping for the family, and praising the stunning impressive on display.
Melanie and Stephen Jones’ lives were changed forever a decade ago when their son Rhys went about his normal business after school, and found himself caught between two warring gang members, one with a gun and one his intended victim. Now, writer Jeff Pope - who previously penned ‘The Moorside’ - has brought their story to screen.
Sinead Kineen plays distraught Melanie, with Brían F O’Byrne as his more stiff upper-lipped father Steve. Stephen Graham put in another committed performance as Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly, who promised Rhys’s parents he would find justice for their son.
The first part of the four-parter found the family going about a normal day - Melanie doing the ironing, Steve at work, Rhys off at football - until a knock at the front door summoned Mel to her dying son’s side, just around the corner from their house. Minutes later, the Jones family were in hospital, watching as medics fought to save Rhys’s life. When they failed, a kind hospital porter brought the little boy an Everton duvet set so that when his parents went to see him, “he looks just like he’s sleeping”.
It was properly heartbreaking stuff, made all the more raw by the stunning performances all round, and the knowledge every minute of the story was true...
“I hope that she and Steve are happy, if you can say happy, with the piece. They’ve been so closely involved, there won’t be any surprises for them.”
She also admitted she’d been nervous to meet the family:
“I was a little bit nervous, I’d never played a real life person before, and one we know about because of the worst possible situation you could find yourself in. With that comes a lot of responsibility. No doubt it was odd for her as well.”
‘Little Boy Blue’ continues on ITV next Monday. Catch up on ITV Player.