Award-winning screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has been awarded the Freedom of Liverpool.
r McGovern, who was born into a large, working-class Catholic family in Liverpool in 1949, had described it as one of the ‘most extraordinary and fascinating things that have happened to me’ when the award was announced at the end of last year.
The long-time Liverpool FC fan, who has been recognized for his 40 years of contribution to British TV, film and theatre, said it was ‘really humbling’ to be nominated alongside the 97th victim of the Hillsborough football disaster in 1989, Andrew Devine, who died in July 2021 from life-changing injuries.
Mr McGovern, whose screen credits include Brookside, Cracker, Hillsborough, The Lakes, Moving On, The Street, Anthony and recent BBC prison drama Time, received his award at a ceremony in 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 brought honor to your profession, to your family and to the Hillsborough families in particular”.
Sir Kenny said: “It is (Liverpool) a city close to your heart and which you have served brilliantly well over the years. Not just in your day-to-day work, but especially for the people who were involved in Hillsborough.
“The way you looked after them, the time and effort you put into them, the comfort you gave them was absolutely fantastic.”
Mr McGovern’s extensive career as a writer, co-screenwriter 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, who was commissioned for Liverpool. year as European Capital of Culture.
He has been cited for placing the search for truth and justice at the heart of his writing, including 25 years ago in the 1996 docu-drama Hillsborough.
The program looked at the build-up and fallout from Britain’s footballing worst 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 families of the victims’ battle to successfully overturn the findings of the initial inquest.
The freedom ceremony culminated with a rendition of the Liverpool FC anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Stephen Graham, who starred in the drama Time, later described Mr McGovern as ‘simply gorgeous’ and ‘such an inspiration’.
In a tribute posted online after the ceremony, he 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. To be able to play one of them is a gift for me.
“All I ever wanted to do was be in a Jimmy McGovern play and I did.
“I am very, very grateful. Keep breaking it. Continue to be brilliant.
Mr Devine, 55, had suffered life-changing injuries in the Hillsborough crash.
The other 96 victims received this distinction posthumously in 2016.
Mr McGovern, who has been a bus driver and an English teacher, has also been credited with generating tens of millions of pounds for the film industry in Liverpool and the North West of England.
He counts four Baftas, two Edgars, two International Emmys and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Royal Television Society among the honors he has received.