Jeff Pope offered a masterclass in true crime television at a North West Centre event held at the Lowry, Salford in late April.
Interviewed by journalist Mark Lawson, Pope discussed his career, which, as a writer and producer, has seen him win BAFTAs for See No Evil: The Moors Murderers and the film, Philomena. His credits also include Appropriate Adult about serial killers Fred and Rose West.
Pope’s latest project is the heart-rending Little Boy Blue, which tells the story of the murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones, an innocent victim of gang conflict in Liverpool.
A key scene from Little Boy Blue features the family on the pitch at Goodison Park, the home ground of Rhys’s beloved team, Everton. The scene was filmed during the half-time break of a match.
“I don’t know if it will happen again in my career, but we had 39,000 extras that day,” said Pope, who wrote the four-part ITV drama. “It was the city, so many thousands of people, saying, ‘This is Liverpool and we’re not having this.”
At the “True Crime Stories” RTS event, Pope also spoke about the sensitivity of using highly personal information in true-life dramas and, in particular, on Little Boy Blue. “It’s not a copyright issue; it’s not a libel issue. It’s a moral issue; an ethical one,” he said. “It’s too private, if [the family] don’t want it to be used.”
All images taken by Claire Harrison.