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BBC Two announce new factual drama, Floodlights

The new 80-minute single drama tells the impactful and important story of Andy Woodward, who will be played by Gerard Kearns.

Photo credit: BBC/Expectation TV/Matt Squire

Andy Woodward is a former professional footballer whose brave revelations about the sexual abuse he suffered as a youth player sent shockwaves throughout the industry and across the globe.

In November 2016, Andy found the strength to go public about horrific sexual abuse by his youth coach, Barry Bennell. After doing so, hundreds more men, many also victims of Bennell, found the courage to speak up about their harrowing experiences of abuse, lifting the lid on a national scandal in the country’s most popular sport.

Floodlights is written by Matt Greenhalgh, directed by Nick Rowland and has been made with the full cooperation of Andy Woodward, who speaking about his story being turned into a drama, said "Since speaking out in 2016 I wanted to continue to encourage people to talk without fear, to make a change. Floodlights tells my story, which no child should ever have to go through. I hope this film helps to stop abuse in football and in all areas of life."

The 80-minute drama depicts Andy’s life, from a boy with a passion for the game to a successful professional footballer who seemingly has the world at his feet, until, no longer able to ignore the haunting memories of the abuse he was subject to by his youth coach, his career is cut short.

It examines the power and control held by Bennell, grooming young players and their families with the promise of making their dreams come true.

Starring alongside Gerard Kearns as Andy Woodward will be Jonas Armstrong, Morven Christie and Steve Edge. On playing Andy, Gerard said, "I am honoured to be playing Andrew Woodward and hope that we have done his story justice."

Writer Matt Greenhalgh said "I was in the crowd at Maine Road when Bury FC beat my team, Manchester City, 0-1 in 1998. Andy Woodward was playing for Bury.. and was outstanding."

"When his brutal story broke I remember being stunned not only by the magnanimity of his courage, but by how this could happen in our national sport. His horrific revelations were undoubtedly a pivotal moment for football… but also for many, many men."

"Andy’s story more than deserves telling as drama, so that it can keep on telling, and informing the next generation of parents and kids. And I am very proud to be part of his honourable fight to expose those who prey on children in any walk of life."

Floodlights will be executive produced by Colin Barr for Expectation, Lucy Richer and Clare Sillery for the BBC and Sue Horth and Grant Best.

Speaking about the new drama, Creative Director, Factual and Factual Drama for Expectation said "Andy Woodward didn’t set out to be a hero, but he certainly became one. Growing up in the world of youth football in the eighties I witnessed first-hand the power coaches had over teenage players, and I can only imagine the courage it took for Andy to speak up, even years later."

"People didn’t see – or didn’t want to see – the shadow of abuse in the game, and only now are we beginning to understand the full horror of what happened. I hope this film is one more step towards acknowledging that and making sure it can never happen again."

Floodlights will air this spring on BBC Two


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