Former Coronation Street actress Sally Lindsay stars in a drama based on the murder of 20-year-old student Sophie Lancaster in 2007
On a balmy summer’s evening in August 2007, 20-year-old student Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Robert Maltby, 21, were walking through Stubbylee Park in Bacup, Lancashire, when they were attacked by a gang of teenagers.
Targeted because they were dressed as Goths, the couple were savagely beaten, kicked and stamped on. Tragically, Sophie later died in hospital. Robert, however, survived, but faced a long and painful recovery.
As the 10th anniversary of Sophie’s death approaches, their harrowing story is told in a one-off BBC Three drama from the team behind the Bafta-winning Murdered By My Boyfriend and Don’t Take My Baby.
Nico Mirallegro (The Village) and Abigail Lawrie (The Casual Vacancy) play the young couple, while former Coronation Street star Sally Lindsay stars as Robert’s heartbroken mother, Tracy Maltby. Here, Sally tells us more…
What do you remember about the tragedy?
"It was 10 years ago but I remember it so well. Just the horror of it all, and the fact that Robert and Sophie were attacked because they looked different was so shocking. It was such a big story, and I remember Julie Hesmondhalgh [Sally’s former Corrie co-star who starred in BBC4’s Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster] was involved in the campaign afterwards against hate crimes. This drama will tell you things you didn’t know, though, and hopefully we’ve given the story the justice it deserves."
It’s a tough role, why did you want to do it?
"I was so pleased when I got the part because it’s completely different from anything I’ve done before. But when I read the script, I was like, “Right, I’ve got to do this properly. The drama is told from Robert’s perspective but I didn’t meet the Maltbys myself, so I’ve been really conscious about portraying Tracy. I just tried to imagine what she must have gone through, being told her son might not pull through, or that he might never be the same again, and asking myself how would I react?"
Did you draw on your own experiences of being a mum?
"I did draw on my own emotional memories. I’m 43 now and I’ve got twin boys as well as two amazing stepchildren, and while I don’t think you need to be a mother to play this part, I think it helped. So I tried to imagine my sons when they’re older and what I would feel if one of them was lying there in hospital… It makes me upset just thinking about it."
Will we see you in more hard-hitting dramas now?
"I hope so because I want to flex that muscle again, but I’ve also recently filmed the last-ever Mount Pleasant, which is coming up very soon. I’m not sure what I’ll do next, apart from cleaning out my shed! For some people, though, I will be Corrie’s Shelley Unwin till the end of time. But that’s fine with me."
Murdered For Being Different premieres on BBC Three on Sunday 18 June, from 10am
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