'Anne' — Hillsborough factual drama cast, the true story behind it, and everything we know

Maxine Peake plays Anne Williams in this four-part drama. (Image credit: ITV)

Maxine Peake stars as Anne Williams, a mother who spent years fighting for justice following the tragic death of her 15-year-old son Kevin at the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989. 

Filmed on location around Liverpool, Anne is directed by BAFTA-winning director Bruce Goodison and produced by World Productions, whose previous hits include The Pembrokeshire Murders, Line of Duty, and Vigil

Here's everything we know about the upcoming four-part miniseries...

'Anne' release date

This four-part drama will start on Sunday, Jan. 2nd, 2022 at 9pm. The second episode will follow on Monday, Jan. 3rd, also at 9pm on ITV. It is thought all four episodes will air on consecutive evenings. 

There's no news yet on if it will be released in the United States. 

What's the plot of 'Anne'? 

A synopsis from ITV reads... 

"Campaigner Anne, from Formby, near Liverpool, was devastated by the loss of 15-year-old Kevin, who died at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest played at Hillsborough in April 1989.

"Refusing to accept the Coroner’s original verdict of accidental death, Anne was determined to unearth the truth about what happened at Hillsborough. She sought out new medical opinions, tracked down witnesses who had tried to revive Kevin on the pitch, and lobbied ministers for new inquests.

"At times to the cost of her own family and health, Anne stood defiant for over 20 years alongside the parents and relatives who fought to prove that their loved ones had been unlawfully killed at a football match."

What happens in episode 1 of 'Anne'?

The ITV synopsis for the first episode in the drama says: "It is April 15, 1989, and Anne Williams says goodbye to her son as he heads to Hillsborough in Sheffield to watch Liverpool take on Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final, but she will never see him alive again. This is a fact-based drama about the woman who dedicated her life to campaigning for justice following her 15-year-old son Kevin's death in the Hillsborough disaster."

What happens in episode 2 of 'Anne'?

The official synopsis from ITV for the second episode says: "Disgusted with the verdict of accidental death at the inquest into the disaster, Anne is determined to find out what really happened to her son at Hillsborough."

Who's in the cast of 'Anne'? 

Maxine Peake (Silk, Three Girls) stars as Anne, while Stephen Walters (Little Boy Blue, Shetland) plays her husband Steve Williams. 

Lily Shepherd (Waterside), Bobby Schofield (Time, Anthony), and Clare Calbraith (Unforgotten, Baptiste) will also star. 

Speaking about her role as Anne Williams, Maxine 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.”

Who's written 'Anne'? 

Kevin Sampson, who wrote the book Hillsborough Voices, which traces the tragic events of the day, and what unfolded in the days and years after the disaster, has penned the four-part miniseries. Sampson attended the 1989 semi-final as a fan and interviewed Anne Williams on several occasions for Hillsborough Voices.

“From the first time I spoke to Anne I was struck by her steely determination," he says. "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.”

What else do we know about 'Anne'? 

The ITV series has been developed with the support of Anne’s daughter, Sara, who was just nine years old when her brother died.  Sara has carried on her Mum’s work and has assisted Kevin in the writing process.

“I thought very carefully before deciding to go ahead with the ITV drama, Anne," says Sara. “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.”

Is there a trailer? 

The official trailer has been available to view on ITV, and you can watch it during a This Morning interview with Maxine Peake and Stephen Walters. 

The heartbreaking clip below shows Anne waving her son off as he goes to watch Liverpool take on Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final, not realizing that it is the last time she will see him alive. 

Sean Marland
Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV, TV & Satellite Week and whattowatch.com

Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are The Great British Bake-Off, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.