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Screenwriter Jimmy McGovern receives the Freedom of Liverpool

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Award-winning screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has received the Freedom of Liverpool.

McGovern, who was born in 1949 into a large Catholic working-class family in Liverpool, described it as one of “the most extraordinary and fascinating things that have ever happened to me” when the award was announced late last year.

The lifelong Liverpool FC fan, who was recognized for his 40-year contribution to British television, film and theatre, said it was “truly sobering” to be nominated alongside the 97th victim of the Liverpool football disaster. Hillsborough in 1989, Andrew Devine, who died in July 2021 as a result of life-changing injuries.

McGovern, whose film credits include Brookside, Cracker, Hillsborough, The Lakes, Moving On, The Street, Anthony and the recent BBC prison drama Time, received his award at a ceremony at Liverpool Town Hall.

A video message from Sir Kenny Dalglish, who was Liverpool manager at the time of the Hillsborough tragedy, told him: “You have been an absolute credit to your profession, to your family and especially to the families of Hillsborough.”

Sir Kenny said: “(Liverpool) is a city that is very close to your heart and one that you have served brilliantly over the years. Not just in his day job, but more especially for the people involved in Hillsborough.

“The way you took care of them, the time and effort you put into them, the sole you put into them was absolutely fantastic.”

Mr. McGovern’s extensive career, as a writer, co-writer and producer, also includes the launch of the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside in 1982, the 1994 film Priest and the 2007 slavery play King Cotton, which was commissioned for the Liverpool theatre. year as European Capital of Culture.

He was cited for placing the search for truth and justice at the center of his writing, most famously 25 years ago in the 1996 docu-drama Hillsborough.

The program examined the buildup and aftermath of Britain’s worst footballing tragedy in which 97 people were wrongfully killed in the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

The Bafta-winning drama is heralded as the catalyst for the victims’ families’ battle to successfully overturn the findings of the original investigation.

The freedom ceremony came to an emotional climax with a performance of Liverpool FC’s anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Jimmy McGovern attends a hearing at Preston Crown Court with Jenni Hicks, whose two daughters died in Hillsborough. (Peter Byrne/PA)

Stephen Graham, who starred in the drama Time, later described McGovern as “just magnificent” and a “huge inspiration”.

In a tribute posted online after the ceremony, she said, “I want to say what an honor it is to be one of the people who can speak your words and these characters that you create. Being able to play one of them is a gift for me.

“All I ever wanted to do was be in a Jimmy McGovern piece and I’ve done it.

“I am very very grateful. Keep breaking it. It’s still brilliant.”

Mr. Devine, 55, had suffered life-changing injuries in the Hillsborough crush.

The other 96 victims received the award posthumously in 2016.

Mr. McGovern, who has been a bus driver and English teacher, has also been recognized for generating tens of millions of pounds for the Liverpool and North West England film industry.

He has four Baftas, two Edgars, two International Emmy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Royal Television Society among the honors he has received.

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