Fash: everything you need to know about the drama showing the tragic story of gay footballer Justin Fashanu

Fash on ITV1 will follow the difficulties faced by footballer Justin Fashanu when he came out as gay.
Fash on ITV1 will follow the difficulties faced by footballer Justin Fashanu when he came out as gay. (Image credit: Getty)

Fash on ITV1 is a drama that will delve into the life of former Norwich City and Nottingham Forest footballer Justin Fashanu, often nicknamed 'Fash' by his team mates, who was the first openly gay player in the men’s sport. Unvarnished and searingly honest, and made with his brother John’s help, it explores the relationship between Justin ‘Fash’ Fashanu and John and shows how they came to be estranged by the time Justin committed suicide in 1998. 

Fash will show how the pair grew up in Dr Barnardo’s care homes and were then fostered by a white family. We see how they relied upon one another in a society that made them feel ‘other’ and how they both managed to make a success of themselves on the pitch. The series also shows how, against a background of institutionalised racism and homophobia, Justin was persecuted when he decided to come out as gay in 1990, with even John turning against him, and how their irreconcilable estrangement became fodder for the national media. John has since told of his regret that he failed to support his brother and has sanctioned this powerful deep-dive into their relationship and the culture of toxic masculinity that drove them apart.

John Fashanu, who is a consultant on the series, says: “Much has been said and written about the relationship Justin and I shared over the years, but drama of this type has an ability to delve right to the beating heart and truth of events in a way other media can’t. I feel privileged to play a part in bringing it to the screen.” 

Here's everything we know so far about ITV1 drama Fash...

John Fashanu is a consultant on Fash which shows the life of his brother Justin.

John Fashanu is a consultant on Fash, the ITV drama which shows the life of his brother Justin. (Image credit: Getty)

Fash release date

Fash will premiere on ITV1 and will then be available as a box set on ITVX once the first episode has aired. We will update with the release date as soon as we hear so do check back.

Fash plot

Fash follows brothers Justin and John Fashanu as they grow up in a children’s home in the 1970s and are fostered by a white family. It shows the deeply entrenched racism they were forced to endure and the toxic prejudices that were common in Britain at the time. It follows Justin as he signed for Nottingham Forest in 1981, aged 20, and how he came out as gay to the public nine years later in 1990. His younger brother John signed for Norwich City in 1981, the club where Justin made his name, and as Justin’s star started to fade at Nottingham Forest, John’s began to shine brighter and he eclipsed his brother as the more famous Fashanu. As Justin’s reputation was dragged through the mud by the tabloid press, John and his family turned their backs on him and in 1998, with his career in tatters, Justin committed suicide. 

Justin Fashanu came out in 1990.

Justin Fashanu came out as gay in 1990. (Image credit: Getty)

John Fashanu when he played for Millwall.

John Fashanu when he played for Millwall. (Image credit: Getty)

Fash cast 

The cast for Fash has yet to be announced but keep an eye on this page and we’ll keep you updated. We're expecting the actors who lay Justin Fashanu and brother John Fashanu to be announced by ITV first.

Is there a trailer for Fash?

There's no Fash trailer just yet, but keep checking this page and we’ll update it as we hear more. 

Behind the scenes on Fash

John Fashanu is closely involved in the drama Fash, serving as consultant on the series alongside Peter Tatchell and a number of other contributors. The series will be produced by Happy Prince (part of ITV Studios). ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill, will oversee the commission of Fash on behalf of the channel.

The drama Fash is written by former Casualty star Kwame Kwei-Armah, who says: “I grew up watching the Fashanu brothers. I was fascinated by them. Inspired by them. As an adult, my heart breaks for them. ‘The past is a foreign land’, the saying goes, ‘they do things differently there’. In Fash, I wanted to dive into that past, particularly one that has so many resonances with today.”

Political campaigner Peter Tatchell adds: “This is a powerful, moving life story that needs to be told. I am very honoured to act as a consultant to the production team, based on my friendship with Justin Fashanu in the 1980s.”

Polly Hill adds: “Kwame’s scripts are brilliant and tell a story that is heart-breaking and sadly still relevant today. It is always a huge responsibility telling a true story, and Kwame and the team at Happy Prince tell Justin and John’s story with all the truth, passion and sensitivity it deserves. I’m delighted it’s found a home on ITV.” 

More about Justin Fashanu

Justin Fashanu, or 'Fash' as he was known to his football team mate and fans, was part of Norwich City’s apprenticeship scheme and turned professional in 1978. He was also played for the England national side in 1980. When he signed for Nottingham Forest in 1981 he became the first black British player to be sold for £1 million. As a result he became one the sport’s most celebrated players. He was loaned to Southampton in 1982, amid rumours that Notts Forest manager Brian Clough had become fed up with the tabloid rumours about him going to gay nightclubs and bars and had forced him to train separately to the rest of the squad. He then played for other teams, including Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, and came out as gay in 1990, becoming the first prominent player in English football to do so. He faced blatant homophobia from some of his teammates and the crowds in general, plus his brother publically slated him in the press. Fash retired in 1997 and moved to the US for a coaching role, where a year later a 17-year-old boy accused him of sexual assault. Fearing homophobia would ruin his chances of a fair trial, he fled to Britain and in May 1998 he committed suicide. John has since expressed his regret at not supporting his brother when he came out. 

Justin Fashanu was capped for England in 1980.

(Image credit: Getty)
Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.