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Hillsborough (1996 film)

Hillsborough is a television film written by Jimmy McGovern and starring Christopher Eccleston and Ricky Tomlinson.[1] Set between 1989 and 1991, the film is a dramatization of the Hillsborough disaster, which saw 96 football supporters lose their lives at Hillsborough in Sheffield.

Hillsborough film title screen
Written byJimmy McGovern
Directed byCharles McDougall
Theme music composerRob Lane
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)
  • Ian McBride
  • Gub Neal
Producer(s)Nicola Shindler
CinematographyBarry Ackroyd
Running time101 minutes
Production company(s)Granada Television
Budget£2 million
Original networkITV
Picture formatPAL (576i)
Audio formatStereo
Original release
  • 5 December 1996 (1996-12-05)


In April 1989, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest met in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. The match was played at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield but was abandoned shortly after the match had started when it became clear that the fans packed in to the Leppings Lane end of the ground were being crushed against fencing. 94 fans died that day, with a 95th victim dying a few days later, and the final death toll reaching 96 in 1993.[2]


In 1995, two women who had lost children in the disaster asked McGovern if he would write their story. He began by interviewing the families of the victims, and became so angry at the unfolding story that he brought in writer Katy Jones to verify that his writing was not skewed in any way.[3]

The film was produced by Granada Television for ITV and aired for the first time on 5 December 1996.[4] Since then, it has been repeated four times: 10 years after the disaster (15 April 1999), 20 years after the disaster (17 April 2009), on 14 September 2012 after the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel was published, and on 1 May 2016 after the conclusion of the second inquest which ruled that the 96 victims were unlawfully killed.[5][6]

Though filmed after the death of the final victim (Tony Bland) who died in March 1993, after being in a coma for nearly four years, the time setting of the film concluded in 1991 when the death toll stood at 95.[7][5]



The film was generally well received by the public and television critics.[8] The Independent Television Commission praised Granada for the drama in its annual programme review, describing it as 'arguably the most powerful drama on the screen in 1996'.[9] It won the BAFTA Television Award in 1997 for Best Single Drama, Best Editing and Best Sound.[10][11] In 2000, the British Film Industry placed Hillsborough at number 54 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes.[12]

Home mediaEdit

Five months after the twentieth anniversary of the tragedy, on 7 September 2009, the Hillsborough docu-drama was released on DVD.[13]


  1. ^ McGovern, Jimmy (2004-06-10). "The power of truth". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  2. ^ Bilefsky, Dan (2017-06-28). "Six Are Charged in 1989 Hillsborough Stadium Disaster in England". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  3. ^ McGovern, Jimmy (2004-06-10). "The power of truth". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  4. ^ Shennan, Paddy (2010-11-30). "Christopher Eccleston says Jimmy McGovern's Hillsborough is most important work he's ever done". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  5. ^ a b Fitzsimmons, Francesca (2016-04-30). "Jimmy McGovern's Hillsborough documentary to be broadcast this weekend". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  6. ^ "How the Hillsborough disaster unfolded". BBC News. 2016-04-26. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  7. ^ Echo, Liverpool (2009-04-14). "Tony Bland, 22". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  8. ^ "TV Review: Hillsborough (ITV)". The Independent. 1996-12-06. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  9. ^ Fitzwalter, Raymond (2008). The Dream That Died: The Rise and Fall of ITV. Troubador Publishing Ltd. p. 286. ISBN 1-906221-83-9.
  10. ^ "BAFTA Awards". Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  11. ^ "Television Craft in 1997 | BAFTA Awards". Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  12. ^ "BFI | Features | TV 100 List of Lists". 2011-09-11. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
  13. ^ "Hillsborough". Network DVD. Retrieved 7 May 2011.

External linksEdit