Murdered for Being Different

Murdered for Being Different, is a 2017 British crime drama film directed by Paul Andrew Williams.[3] It is based on the 2007 murder of Sophie Lancaster in the United Kingdom.

Murdered for Being Different
Directed byPaul Andrew Williams
Produced byScott Bassett[1]
Written byNick Leather[2]
Music byNavid Asghari[2]
CinematographyVanessa Whyte[1]
Edited byJohnny Rayner[1]
BBC Studios
Distributed byBBC Three (2017) (UK) (video) (VOD)

BBC One (2017) (UK) (TV)

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Television (2017) (UK)
Release date
  • 18 June 2017 (2017-06-18) (United Kingdom)
Running time
1h 2min[2]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£600,000 (estimated)[1]

The film is about two people from the goth subculture who are assaulted by drunken youths in a skateboard park, and the subsequent police investigation. The attack itself is shown in detail. Flashbacks of the couple's loving relationship contrast with the brutal violence and the stark investigation.

Murdered for Being Different was first released on BBC3 on Sunday 18 June 2017. It won the BAFTA television award for best single drama the following year.[4]


A young couple, Rob and Sophie, purchase alcohol at a convenience store late at night. They are friendly to people, despite wearing exaggerated gothic clothes. Sophie wears black and red dreadlocks, earrings, nose rings, and lip rings; her boyfriend, Rob, is similar with dark curly hair, thick eyeliner, lip rings, heavy chains, and big skull rings on his hands. Their attire attracts the attention of two teenagers. One teenager, called Michael, asks Sophie if he can touch her hair and she agrees joyfully, joking that she will have to charge him next time. Michael invites them to the park.

In the park, there is a crowd of young people. Most of them, especially the girls, find their dress interesting and one girl asks to have a picture with them. The gothic couple and the street teenagers get along well with each other. However, less than half an hour later, Rob and Sophie are shown beaten in a bloody scene, and Sophie is unconscious.

Detective Constable Farley is in charge of the investigation. She interviews Michael, who had called an ambulance to the scene, and he states that he was passing by when he happened to see the injured couple and that there was no one else there. Farley is informed that the CCTV cameras in the neighbourhood were out of service and captured nothing that night. Without any witness or evidence, the case appears to have reached a dead end. The teenagers lie about the incident, though Michael expresses sympathy and regret, and reflects on what happened to Sophie and Rob. He witnessed the entire incident, and although he did not dare to stop the beating, he called for an ambulance. Later, when he meets with a partner who refers to Rob and Sophie as "moshies", a slang term for Goths, Michael responds immediately and sensitively to cease this.

Rob awakens in hospital with serious injuries and no recollection of what happened. Sophie is in a coma for two weeks before her life support is switched off. Michael learns of this and comes forward to police with his testimony, despite fearing the threats of the gang leader.

Flashbacks throughout reveal Rob and Sophie's relationship. Rob falls in love with Sophie at first sight at a pub and takes her to his secret base. As an art student, he paints wings on Sophie's back because he thinks she is an angel, and regards her as his Mona Lisa. Sophie likes Harry Potter, so Rob reads with her, enjoying their romance on a freezing rooftop. To buy Sophie the Harry Potter book, Rob waits until midnight for a discount.

Before this case, Rob and Sophie were once threatened because of their appearance. Traumatized by the beating and Sophie's death, Rob becomes afraid to go outside. However, at the end of the film, Rob decides to wear Goth clothes and make-up again, in memory of Sophie and also standing up for their beliefs.


Role Actor[3][5]
Sophie Lancaster Abigail Lawrie
Rob Maltby Nico Mirallegro
Danny Hulme Lewis Brown
DC Mark Green Dominic Carter
Sam Gorman Amelia Clarke
Dave Maltby Chris Coghill
DC Steph Farley Chanel Creswell
Michelle Sturry Mia Crossley
Natalie Morley Kirsty Fanning
Jo Hulme Macauley Fogarty
Alyssa Bean Jodi Grensinger
Danny Mallett Callum Harrison
Michael Gorman Reiss Jarvis
Gang Member Evan Jones
Christine Herbert Lolly Jones
Paramedic David Keeling
Tracey Maltby Sally Lindsay
Mandy Gorman Sophie McShera
DI Dean Holden Jason Milligan
Ryan 'Peanut' Herbert Connor Mullen
Gang Member Coral Mulligan
Steven Thorner Gino Nicholson
Doctor Woodyatt Gary Oliver
Gang Member Connor Pilkington
Sean Mcdonagh Jack Smith
Gang Member Leigha Unsworth
Brendan Harris Ezra Watson



The story is based on the murder of Sophie Lancaster in Lancashire in 2007. BBC channel controller Damian Kavanagh noted that the network sought true stories through which the audience could "understand themselves and their place in the world". Executive producer Aysha Rafaele noted the "impact" of having a "true story". Marco Crivellari was tasked with dramatizing the real events.[6] The only fictionalised element in the film is Michael Gorman, the witness to the attack who is threatened by the gang but ultimately brave enough to come forward. The character is a composite of different people, partly to protect individuals who live in Bacup, but also as a young character which can embody the possibility of hope. "We want there to be a rallying cry," Rafaele stated. "You don't have to be part of the mob. You can stand up and make your voice heard and make a difference."[6]

The production was supported by the victim's relatives. During consultations, they showed sorrow and struggled to continue. Sophie's mother said: "It's brutal. I had to watch it to make sure it did justice to Sophie. It was very, very difficult. I don't think I've cried as much in 10 years. It absolutely broke my heart. It's very graphic, but I don't think it's gratuitous. We have to get that message out there that this is unacceptable behaviour."[6] Rob, on the other hand, said he thought he "finally got something positive come out of something so utterly negative".[7]


Abigail Lawrie, who plays Sophie, received the endorsement of Sophie's mother. "I felt she was very, very good," she said. "There is one scene where she's sat on the couch and Rob comes in with a Harry Potter book. That took my breath away because that was Sophie. That looked like her, it felt like her."[6]


London's Will Coker graded the show using the Nucoda Film Master. Generally, he kept it natural, for example, he lets the story unfold smoothly, choosing a slightly softer look with lower contrast and muted tones, instead of the over-bleak background. Certain scenes were enhanced, such as building an uneasy, nervous hospital atmosphere by greens, yellows, and sickly skin tones.[8]

The audio was mixed on a D-Control surface lead by senior sound mixer Karl Mainzer. He contrasted the contemporary content with raw, gritty, nearly documentary-style sound beds and produced the flashbacks and out-of-body experiences by stylised sound design.[8]


Murdered for Being Different was released on the tenth anniversary of the murder. On Sunday 18 June 2017, it was first released on BBC3.[7]

On 13 July 2017, it was broadcast on BBC1 at 22:45[9] and at 23:10 in Northern Ireland.[9]

Critical responseEdit

When Murdered for Being Different was released, the vast majority of its audience gave it positive affirmations and reviews. Julia Raeside from The Guardian called it "a gut-wrenching dramatisation ... with a truly powerful message". She found every shot to be composed beautifully and praised the direction and editing for contrasting the stark investigation and brutal violence with the romanticised flashbacks of Sophie and Rob's relationship.[10]

Jasper Rees from The Arts Desk wrote that the film was "not to be missed". He praised the performances of Sophie, Mirallegro and Jarvis. He found that the soundtrack was cleverly chosen to advance the plot, and that the script fools expectations as it switches time periods while steadily approaching the re-enactment of the murderous attack. He also found it a fair point for Rob to pluck up the courage to be different in the end by dressing in gothic.[11]

Caroline Preece of Den of Geek praised director Paul Andrew Williams for showing the couple's relationship in a fantastical, romanticised way. She also felt that the script cleverly "humanises" Sophie by having her finish the Harry Potter novels and step into adulthood.[12]

Gerard O'Donovan from The Daily Telegraph questioned the graphic depiction of violence when the events are already well known, finding it "unnecessary at best, and voyeuristic at worst". However, he appreciated that it was shown Michael's perspective, and through the fictional character examined social responsibility and morality weighed against gang mentality. Overall, he found it "a worthwhile, thought-provoking piece".[13]


Murdered for Being Different won the BAFTA television award for best single drama in 2018.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Murdered for Being Different - Production & Contact Info | IMDbPro". Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "BBC Three - Murdered for Being Different". BBC. Archived from the original on 11 May 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b "BBC Three - Murdered for Being Different". BBC. Archived from the original on 11 May 2019. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Single Drama - MURDERED FOR BEING DIFFERENT". 4 April 2018. Archived from the original on 14 April 2019. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Meet the cast of BBC3's Murdered for Being Different". Radio Times. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d Rees, Jasper (15 June 2017). "Murdered for Being Different: how BBC Three has turned real-life tragedy into important TV drama". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 11 May 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Murdered for Being Different writer Nick Leather: why I had to tell the story of Sophie Lancaster". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  8. ^ a b 2017-07-21T11:50:00+01:00. "Murdered for being different". Broadcast. Archived from the original on 11 May 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  9. ^ a b "BBC Three - Murdered for Being Different". BBC. Archived from the original on 11 May 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  10. ^ Raeside, Julia (16 June 2017). "Murdered for Being Different review – Sophie and Rob's love story is at the heart of this affecting film". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 11 May 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  11. ^ Rees, Jasper. "Murdered For Being Different, BBC Three review - unbearable but unmissable". The Arts Desk. Archived from the original on 27 September 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  12. ^ Preece, Caroline. "BBC Three's Murdered For Being Different: review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  13. ^ O'Donovan, Gerard (18 June 2017). "Murdered for Being Different review: Sophie Lancaster's murder is heartbreakingly brought to the screen". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 12 May 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.

External linksEdit