Five years ago, former Crewe Alexandra FC defender Andy Woodward made the courageous decision to break his silence on the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of one of his coaches during the early stages of his football career. Now, that story will be immortalised in a new one-off BBC Two drama entitled Floodlights.

Gerard Kearns as Andy Woodward in Floodlights / Image credit: BBC Two

Gerard Kearns as Andy Woodward in Floodlights / Image credit: BBC Two

After that shocking revelation, there followed a massive nationwide investigation into a number of coaches and scouts, in particular those involved with the clubs Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City and Newcastle United.

Woodward claimed that he was abused by former football coach Barry Bennell in the 80s from the age of 11-years-old, and Bennell - along with thirteen other coaches - were convicted for their crimes against what came out to be multiple victims. By 2018, there were 849 alleged victims, which truly shone a light on the lack of protection surrounding young football stars in the making.

A drama based on Andy’s 2020 autobiography Position of Trust is set to air on BBC Two this Spring, with the first trailer having just been unveiled. In it we see how Bennell’s attention became so important to Andy as a child, as well as his supportive parents, that it’s abundantly clear how people like Bennell used their power to abuse young boys. We also get a hint of Andy’s realisation at just many others could’ve been in his very position over the course of time.

Directed by Nick Rowland (Calm with Horses) and written by the BAFTA nominated Matt Greenhalgh (Control, Nowhere Boy), Floodlights is a one-off drama starring Gerard Kearns (Shameless, The English Game) as Andy Woodward, with Morven Christie (Grantchester, The Bay), Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood, The Bay) and Steve Edge (Benidorm, Starlings) also among the cast. 

“Since speaking out in 2016 I've wanted to continue to encourage people to talk without fear, to make a change,” the real Andy Woodward said in a statement. “Floodlights tells my story, which no child should ever have to go through. I hope this film helps to stop abuse in football and in all areas of life.”

Meanwhile, Gerard Kearns said: “I am honoured to be playing Andrew Woodward and hope that we have done his story justice.”

MORE: NSPCC’s launch book to protect children from sexual abuse

Floodlights is set to air on BBC Two this Spring.

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