Broadchurch’s final season has gripped viewers for the last eight weeks, so it’ll be a hard act to follow. New drama Little Boy Blue is taking its place for the next few weeks.

We find out all you need to know about it.

What is Little Boy Blue about?

Little Boy Blue recounts the true story of the investigation into 2007 murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones.

Rhys was shot as he walked home from football practice in Croxteth, Liverpool. His murder shocked the city of Liverpool and the country as a whole, with the young boy a tragic random target.

Little Boy Blue focuses on the aftermath of the horrendous crime, including Rhys’s parents Melanie and Steve’s ordeal and the investigation into Rhys’s murder – focusing on the work of Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly and his team.  

Following the police investigation into Rhys’s murder, Sean Mercer, a gang member was found guilty of the crime. He had ridden past Rhys on a bike and shot him as he crossed the Fir Tree Pub car park in Croxteth. A further six gang members were convicted of charges relating to the crime.

Rhys Jones

Murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones (REX/Shutterstock)

When is Little Boy Blue on?

The first episode airs on Monday April 24 at 9pm and the following three Mondays.

How many Little Boy Blue episodes are there?

Little Boy Blue is a four-part series.

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Who is in the Little Boy Blue cast?

Stephen Graham, who you might know from This is England, Decline and Fall and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, plays Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly. He was born about 10 minutes away from where Rhys grew up. Detective Superintendent Kelly used to take a pickaxe handle – called The Persuader - into morning meetings. After he retired he kept it at home with him and Graham borrowed it to use during filming of Little Boy Blue instead of a replica.

“We have a duty to honour the spirit and memory of Rhys. As a society we should never let this happen again,” says Graham.

“Hopefully Little Boy Blue will make people stop and think for a little bit. The only way things are going to change is if we make changes ourselves.” 

Sinead Keenan from Being Human plays Rhys’s mother Melanie and Brian F O’Byrne from Million Dollar Baby plays his father Steve.

“There is always a certain amount of trepidation when you are asked to play a real person who is still alive. It was a bit daunting,” says Keenan.

“You have to be very respectful of the fact this is somebody’s life and their very worst and darkest moments. You just hope to God you get it right for them.”

Where was Little Boy Blue filmed?

Little Boy Blue was filmed as much as possible on location throughout Liverpool and the north west of England.

One key real moment reconstructed by the programme-makers took place at Goodison Park, the home of Everton football team. Rhys was a huge Everton fan. A touching tribute was paid to Rhys before Everton’s match against Blackburn just after the murder in August 2007 – with his parents in attendance. Programme-makers recreated this tribute for Little Boy Blue with the help of fans during an Everton match against West Ham in October 2016.

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“There’s a sequence in the first episode where we film a minute’s applause for Rhys at Goodison Park, home of Everton Football Club,” says producer Kwadjo Dajan.

“We advertised this in the week leading up to the shoot, and were stunned when all 39,000 in the crowd gave up their half-time break to participate in our film. They clapped us on to the pitch and perfectly observed the minute’s applause.

“And then applauded us going off the pitch. It was a truly special experience. I still get goosebumps thinking about it now.  

Production also had permission to film in the specific courtroom at Liverpool Crown Court used for the original trial, as well as Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, where Rhys’s funeral took place. However, the Fir Tree pub car park was not used as a filming location.

Why did parents Melanie and Steve Jones want the series made?

"Our decision to get involved with 'Little Boy Blue' stemmed principally from a desire to honour our son, Rhys, whom we lost ten years ago this year. It is very important to us, and our other son, Owen, to keep his memory alive and for people to understand how important he was to us.

"But beyond this we saw this as an opportunity to let the public see what happens to a family like ours in a situation like this.

"We wanted to show how the pressures we were placed under, the huge weight of grief thrust upon us, the endless waiting, not knowing if we would get justice for Rhys, can tear a family apart. We spoke very openly to the programme makers about what we went through because we wanted to let Sean Mercer and the others involved in Rhys's murder know that our sentence never ends. 

"Our pain will only fade, it will never go away. And that by trying to avoid the consequences of their actions they only increased that pain. We wanted them to know that there is no 'closure' for us - even from a guilty verdict, because it cannot give us what we want, our son back. But if we can get people to understand this, and if by showing what we went through we can help other people who might find themselves in the future put in the same, horrendous, position that we were, then this will have all been worthwhile.  

"Lastly, we would like people to know what a magnificent job our friend, retired Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly, and his whole team did with this complex and emotional investigation."

Mel and Steve Jones, April 2017              

The first episode of Little Boy Blue airs Monday April 24 at 9pm, ITV.

Photo credit: ITV.

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