Anthony star says racism isn’t just an ‘American problem’

The star of BBC One drama Anthony has said racism is not only an “American problem” and the UK must work to rid itself of discrimination.

Toheeb Jimoh, who plays Anthony Walker in the programme about the black teenager murdered in Liverpool, said racism exists in “covert” and “overt” forms.

Mr Walker, 18, was a devout Christian known for a love of basketball and was halfway through his A-levels when he was attacked by two men in a racially motivated killing in July 2005.

The 90-minute programme was inspired by conversations with Walker’s mother Gee, and tells the story of the life he could have lived.

Jimoh said: “I think the main message of the show is the role racism plays in our society – whether it’s overt or covert, it’s there.

“It’s not an American problem, we in the UK have just as much to do to rid ourselves of it.

“It’s being the only black applicant you see at a job interview, constantly seeing images of people who look like you being murdered in the UK and US and, of course, being attacked in a park while walking your friend home because you are black.

“Just some of the instances we touch on in the show.”

He said the programme also highlighted the consequences of “leaving your house with a weapon”.

He added: “Many people who carry weapons don’t understand the gravity of that decision – the ripple effect of taking a life is immeasurable.

“The grief caused is immeasurable and lasts a lifetime. We hope showing what was lost might help people understand that and also, maybe even for a second, give those moments back to Anthony’s loved ones.”

Written by Jimmy McGovern, Anthony also stars former Holby City actress Rakie Ayola as Mr Walker’s mother.

Sandford St Martin Awards
Jimmy McGovern (Peter Byrne/PA)

Referring to the Black Lives Matter movement, Jimoh added: “I think this story has the capacity to change people and especially now, at a time where we are re-examining our relationship with racism in this country, stories like this are vital.

“It’s a part of our history and we have to look at it and talk about it.

“But also it’s a celebration of life – Anthony’s story didn’t end when he died – he lives on in his loved ones and also now with this show.

“It’s brilliantly written and beautifully executed and I hope it’s a fitting tribute to the real Anthony Walker.”

Anthony was filmed on location in Liverpool and was made by LA Productions for BBC One.

The drama was directed by Terry McDonough, known for his work on The Street.

Two men, Michael Barton and Paul Taylor, were sentenced to life in prison for Mr Walker’s murder.

Anthony airs on BBC One on Monday July 27 at 8.30pm.

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