Viewers were left sobbing as they watched the life Anthony Walker could have had unfold on screen – had he not been brutally murdered.
Last night’s BBC drama told the story of devout Christian Anthony Walker, a black teenager who was slain with an ice axe and killed in a racist attack on 29th July 2005 in the Huyton area of Merseyside aged 18, and how his life could have been.
His life was imagined in reverse chronology – and he was seen realising his dreams and enjoying the life he had a right to live, before fate – and hate – took it all away.
And those who tuned in were quick to take to Twitter to reveal how they had been reduced to tears by seeing the cruel attack play out.
‘Crying my eyes out watching Jimmy McGoverns, #Anthony. Absolutely heartbreaking,’ wrote one, while a second penned:
‘Heart wrenching. A lovely ,kind, young, innocent lad with his whole life ahead of him taken in the most cruel way.’
During the episode, viewers saw a love story that Anthony, played by Toheeb Jimoh, never had the opportunity to have, the birth of his first child and a career in civil rights.
As he reached the age of 18, it imagined the racial tensions that he would likely have encountered – including an argument with a group of white men in a club.
Then came the fatal night when he walked his girlfriend Louise to the bus stop with his cousin.
It wasn’t long before the group encountered racial abuse, with one man shouting: ‘We’re coming after you, we’re going to catch you.’
As the group were chased and then followed in a car by two men – Paul Taylor and Michael Barton – they ran to the park.
The men then exited the car, grabbed a pickaxe from the back seat and ambushed the group.
But while Louise and Marcus managed to escape, they captured Anthony and hit him in the head with the axe.
As Anthony’s mother Gee rushed to Whiston Hospital to be with her son, Paul Taylor and Michael Barton run away. Later, Anthony died in hospital surrounded by his family.
Paul Taylor, 20, was sentenced to at least 23 years in jail – he is the cousin of Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton.
Michael Barton, the brother of Barton, was sentenced to 17 years and eight months for the murder.
Taking to Twitter, one viewer wrote; ‘Bawling watching Anthony on BBC1. Heartbreaking watch.’
A second commented: ‘Crying hysterically at the powerful Jimmy McGovern drama #Anthony. Rest in peace Anthony Walker. You deserved so much better than this,’ while a third added: ‘I am in absolute bits after watching that. So powerful.’
Meanwhile, a fourth agreed: ‘Absolutely heartbreaking watching #jimmymcgoverns film #Anthony on BBC one which is based on a true story, it portrays how real racism is in the UK and is really insightful on how young black people go through struggles in life! People need to be educated.’