Murdered For Being Different is the story of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was kicked to death ten years ago by a gang in a park while trying to protect her boyfriend from them.
It’s a story embedded in the psyche of the alternative scene and beyond, not least through the work of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
TRIBUTE: Sophie Lancaster (photo: Rob Maltby)
Sophie (Abigail Lawrie) and boyfriend Rob Maltby (Nico Mirallegro) were gentle goths whose uncon-ventional appearance was the sole reason for a violent assault on them by a bunch of young thugs. It put both of them in comas, from which only Rob recovered.
The story has been told in different media and from different angles down the years.
This latest version, created by writer Nick Leather for BBC3 and first screened yesterday on iPlayer, is from the team behind other well-regarded films about socially significant murders such as Murdered by My Boyfriend and Murdered by My Father.
The film shows us the role played by a detective, Steph Farley (Chanel Cresswell), in bringing the perpetrators to justice — though I was a little taken aback to discover that ‘witness’ Michael Gorman (Reiss Jarvis), eventually persuaded by Farley to shop his guilty friends, was a dramatic invention of the writer.
Murdered For Being Different manages to be a nailbiting, tearjerking drama even though it must be assumed the fact of Sophie’s non-survival is already known to the viewer.
Her fate is withheld from the narrative until Rob wakes from his coma and can be taken to see her on her life support machine.
His gradual realisation that he is there to say goodbye before the machine is turned off is one of the film’s most poignant moments.
With its first screening close to the tenth anniversary of Sophie’s death (on August 24), Murdered For Being Different is a worthy addition to BBC3’s strand of serious social commentary programmes.
These days, due to greater mainstream understanding and acceptance, a lot more goths and fetish folk undoubtedly feel safer looking and dressing how they want to in public than they would have ten years ago.
But it’s worth remembering that this is a luxury not yet afforded to all those who embrace difference around the world.
And — as the end credits of this powerful film remind us via the statistic of 70,000 hate crime incidents recorded in the UK just last year — even with our supposedly admirable tolerance of ‘eccentricity’, we Brits are evidently still some considerable way short of being a truly civilised society.
Published June 19, 2017