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Little Boy Blue might be criticised for being too soon - but the message it holds is essential

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Rhys Jones, an 11-year-old from Liverpool, was killed in a gang related shooting-gone-wrong in 2007. Now his story is being aired in ITV's heart-breaking drama Little Boy Blue.

Some call it Liverpool’s answer to the recently aired BBC drama Moorside, which depicted the 2008 case of missing nine-year-old Shannon Matthews, who it ultimately transpired was kidnapped with the help of her own mother.

But aren't dramas for entertainment, documentaries for knowledge, and isn't there something unsettling about taking the painful truth of a documentary and forming it into something to entertain the nation? There are people who knew Rhys, who knew the murderers, who lived in the area, are still do. I can't be the only one who, gripped by the storyline and eager to see the ending to a story I already know, turns on the TV for the next episode only to feel saddened and angry by what I see?

Not only is Little Boy Blue very close to home, the fact is that this happened only ten years ago. For a city like Liverpool, which has suffered and come back stronger on many occasions, what affect does it really have?

But maybe that's the point. Perhaps turning these heart-renching events into something accessible to everyone in turn makes people stand up and say something.

Gun crime in Liverpool has in fact risen in 2016/2017, with incidents previously having fallen for numerous years before that. What better way to campaign against it than on prime time TV on a Tuesday night? 

Most of the Little Boy Blue actors were born in Merseyside, many look eerily similar to their true-life counterparts, and a lot of the filming was done in situ, although certain scenes, deemed too delicate, had to be shot elsewhere. Authenticity of the series seems to be of high priority, and in this way this new breed of docu-drama is not only acceptable, but in fact powerful.

To display the facts, so true to life, in a way that makes people stop and think, is to make something positive from something utterly devastating. It's highly admirable of the family of Rhys Jones, as not only must it have been unimaginably hard to relive these events, but it is astoundingly brave to do so.

Little Boy Blue was coined from Rhys' love for Everton FC, and one particularly heart-renching scene was depicted at Everton’s ground. The real-life event was one which displayed Liverpool's amazing ability to unite in the face of devastation. Rhys Jones’ family stand on the pitch at Goodison Park, as football fans deliver a minute’s applause in Rhys' honour. Whether you think it's 'too soon' or not, the feeling of solidarity, warmth and heartache in this scene is unmistakable and unforgettable.

The fourth episode of Little Boy Blue airs on Monday 15th May. Catch up on the ITV Hub.

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