EXCLUSIVE: BBC Two has ordered Responsible Child, a one-off drama inspired by real life events that explores the criminal age of responsibility under English law.
Responsible Child tells the story of Ray, a 12-year-old boy on trial for murder. The story is told in two time-frames, following both the events that led up to the murder and the unfolding drama of the trial itself. Ray and his 23-year-old brother Nathan are arrested after stabbing their mother’s partner.
Whatever the circumstances that have led a child to kill, the law is clear: the age of criminal responsibility is 10, and at 12 years-old, Ray must stand trial in adult court. The cast assembled for the factual drama includes Billy Barratt (The White Princess), Michelle Fairley (Game Of Thrones), Tom Burke (Strike), Stephen Campbell Moore (The Last Post), Owen McDonnell (Killing Eve), Shaun Dingwall (Topboy), Debbie Honeywood (Vera), Angela Wynter (Le Miserables) and James Tarpey (Our Robot Overlords).
Sean Buckley penned the script for Responsible Child, which earned a spot on the inaugural Brit List of unproduced TV scripts back in 2018 before it ultimately landed at the BBC. Kudos and 72 Films are producing, with Elinor Day serving as the producer. The executive producers are Karen Wilson, Katie McAleese, Lucy Richer, Ayela Butt and Mark Raphael. Nick Holt is the director. Production on the drama has already wrapped. It is set to air on BBC Two later this year. Endemol Shine International will handle global sales.
“Responsible Child raises one of the most complex and challenging questions of our time”, said the BBC’s Controller of Drama Piers Wenger, who commissioned the one-off alongside BBC Two Controller Patrick Holland. “Nick and Sean’s extraordinary film explores the age of criminal responsibility in England and takes us to the heart of the legal question: in the most severe of cases, “should a child be tried as an adult or child?” We are hugely indebted to them for the sensitive, nuanced and empathetic approach to telling this harrowing true story on BBC Two.”
“Whilst making The Murder Trial I discovered that in England, we put children as young as 10 on trial for murder. It’s an extraordinary and little-known aspect of our justice system”, commented director Nick Holt. “10 is one of the lowest ages in the world and breaches our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time, since I attended the trial on which our film is based, and I’m delighted to be working with Kudos and the BBC.”
While Karen Wilson, Managing Director and Executive Producer for Kudos, added: “With Responsible Child, we try to explore the multiple shades of grey involved in such complicated cases of criminal responsibility, where the law is seemingly so black and white. We are delighted to bring Sean’s incredible scripts to life, with the brilliantly talented Nick Holt, on his scripted directorial debut, and that we have such a fabulous cast to help us tell the story of Ray and his family.”