'A story that needed to be told' – Little Boy Blue cast praised by ITV viewers

'Incredible, powerful, insightful, honest storytelling'

ITV viewers have heaped praise over the cast of Little Boy Blue, the dramatisation of 11-year-old Rhys Jones’ murder.

The programme, which ended its four-part run on Monday night, followed the story of the schoolboy who was gunned down by 16-year-old Sean Mercer on his way home from football practice in Croxteth, Liverpool in 2007.

Sinead Keenan and Brian F O'Byrne (Melanie and Steve Jones)

Actors Sinead Keenan, Brian F O'Byrne and Stephen Graham, who portrayed Rhys’ mum and dad, and Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly who headed the investigation, were applauded for the sensitivity and respect they showed the Jones’ family in how they portrayed them on screen.

One Twitter user said: “I bow down to all those that acted the light and the darkness in #littleboyblue a story that needed to be told.”

Another said: "Stephen Graham is immense in Little Boy Blue. My favourite actor by a country mile."

Another: "Such a powerful piece. Everything done with the utmost respect and dignity while being honest and true."

And: “Still reeling from final ep of #littleboyblue last night. Incredible, powerful, insightful and honest storytelling.”

Stephen Graham (Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly)

The last episode saw Mercer (Paddy Rowan) and his accomplices in the dock after brave testimonies by two witnesses that helped prove their guilt.

Many viewers were left heartbroken by the courtroom scenes where the defendants could be seen laughing, joking and messing about while the case was being heard.

One tweeted: “Absolutely heartbreaking, bunch of scumbags laughing and joking in court.”

Another said: "The disrespect to act like that in court after taking that family's little boys life is beyond low."

Stephen Graham (Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly)

Viewers were also left angry after hearing that Melanie was told indirectly by the judge to "stop crying" in court – or stay out.

One tweeted: "'Stop crying or leave the court room'. Programmes like this just show how horrendous the British Justice System is."

Once the jury offered a guilty verdict to all three, perhaps the most shocking line was delivered by James Yates (James Nelson-Joyce), showing no remorse and utter contempt for Rhys’ life: “All this fuss over a kid.

Sinead Keenan (Melanie Jones)

Mercer was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, serving a minimum of 22 years.

Yates, who supplied the gun that murdered Rhys, Nathan Quinn, who helped hide the weapon, and Dean Kelly, who provided Mercer with an alibi, also received sentences.

Sinead Keenan and Brian F O'Byrne (Melanie and Steve Jones)

The grief and anguish felt by parents Melanie and Steve Jones, and their strength and dignity throughout, touched the hearts of the audience, with many saying they were in tears from the start. 

The drama, written by Jeff Pope (The Moorside), had been given its blessing by Rhys’s parents, Melanie and Steve Jones, before it aired.


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