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New Rhys Jones drama set to break hearts

The schoolboy was shot dead in a gang turf war

Actress Sinead Keenan has revealed how “tough” it was to film new drama Little Boy Blue, about the murder of schoolboy Rhys Jones, that begins tonight.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain alongside hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, Sinead confided the story is horrific, but that the family are “happy” with the outcome of the dramatisation.

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Rhys was just 11 years old when he was shot in his hometown of Liverpool back in 2007. He was an entirely innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of a feud between rival gangs.

As paramedics battled to save him, he eventually lost his life. His murderer, 16-year-old Sean Mercer was well-known in the area, but police faced a battle to get enough evidence to convict him as those around Sean clubbed together to protect him.

It was in 2009 when Sean and his helpers were brought to justice at last and he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 22 year minimum.

The new ITV drama is in four parts and has been filmed with the complete cooperation of the Rhys’s family. But it’s set to be an emotional watch.

Sinead plays Melanie Jones, Rhys’s mum, in the drama alongside Stephen Graham as Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly, who fought to bring Rhys’s killer to justice, and she told Piers and Susanna how hard it was to film something that is such a sad true story.

“It’s not easy, I’d be lying if I said it was.

“If this was just a story that was made up, you’d think ‘god, that’s horrific enough’, but the fact that this is real and this is something that a family are living through and still are day in, day out, it brings an awful lot of responsibility to bear on the whole cast, just getting it right.”

She also went on to reveal how she and Brian F. O’Byrne, who plays Rhys’s dad, Steve, met the family during research for the drama.

“Myself and Brian F. O’Byrne who plays Steve, Rhys’s dad, and Jeff [Pope] the writer, we went to Liverpool and spent a couple of hours with them,” she said.

“They were very kind, welcoming people with their time. Very generous and honest. As far as I could see there was very little censorship in terms of when they spoke about Rhys and what they went through.”

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Piers then questioned if the family were happy with the way the drama has portrayed the story.

Sinead said: “They have seen all four episodes. Happy probably isn’t the right word, but they are.”

She also spoke about filming on the football pitch after an Everton and West Ham game. Rhys was a massive Everton fan. They only had three minutes to film the scene, but people were very respectful and it all went according to plan.

“Three minutes is nothing in filming, we didn’t know if people would stay, but Steve did an appeal to ask people if they could stay in their seats, and extraordinarily, 36,000 people were all in their seats.”

We think we’ll need the tissues to watch this one when it starts tonight at 9pm.