Review: ITV's Hillsborough drama Anne was a moving, devastating tribute to a mother driven by grief and trauma

I lost count of the number of times I had a quiet weep while watching Anne (ITV, Sun-Weds, 9pm), the story of Anne Williams, whose son Kevin died in the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 5:00 pm

Kevin, aged just 15, was among 97 Liverpool fans who died as a result of the disaster, which happened as their team played Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

Anne took her grief and her rage and not being able to find out exactly what happened to her son in his final moments, and turned them into a long-running campaign for justice.

Played by Maxine Peake with a fierce, quivering intensity, Anne comes across as a woman transformed by trauma into an avenging angel, unwilling to be fobbed off, and determined to ferret out the truth of what happened that day, almost regardless of the cost.

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Maxine Peake starred as Anne Wiliams in an emotional new ITV drama about the campaign to find justice for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster

And the toll this took on her and her family wasn’t sugar-coated – her marriage to husband Steve breaks down, relationships with fellow Hillsborough activists are sometimes shaky, and her own health suffers.

As she and Steve drive to Sheffield in the hours after the disaster, they run out of petrol, and a local farmer helps them out with a jerrycan. “People are good, Anne, most people are good,” Steve tells her. And people, individuals, are good. It’s when institutions close ranks, defend the indefensible, lie and dissemble that events like Hillsborough can occur.

Anne was a drama filled with quiet moments – of grief, rage, despair – that shouted its message from the rooftops; no-one has been found guilty in a criminal court for what happened, lessons are not being learned, institutions are still closing ranks. And that alone is enough to make you weep.

The BBC kicked off the new year with The Tourist (BBC1, Sun, 9pm). This thriller is good knockabout Outback fun, with a strong hint of Fargo’s black humour mixed with bursts of violence.

Another week, another true crime documentary, but The Hunt for Bible John (BBC2, Tues, 9pm and iPlayer) is a cut above the rest. A flashback to pre-computer policing and hacks who never left the street.