The life of Justin Fashanu, the first footballer to come out as gay, and his brother John Fashanu, is to be turned into an ITV drama from BAFTA-nominated writer Kwame Kwei-Armah.
Justin Fashanu was an extremely talented footballer who became the first black British footballer to be sold for £1M ($1.2M) at the age of just 20, becoming one of the most celebrated people in British sport. In 1990, he came out as gay and by 1998, with his football career in tatters and ostracized by his family, he committed suicide.
The drama will weave together the lives of Justin Fashanu and his brother John Fashanu, who also played football and was estranged from his brother at the time of his death.
ITV said the drama is being put together with the support of Fashanu’s brother and other contributors include LGBTQ+ campaigner Peter Tatchell. Dominic Treadwell Collins’ ITV Studios label Happy Prince is producing, Kwei-Armah (Elmina’s Kitchen) is writing and ITV Studios is distributing.
Kwei-Armah said: “I grew up watching the Fashanu brothers. I was fascinated by them. Inspired by them. As an adult, my heart breaks for them. ‘The past is a foreign land’, the saying goes, ‘they do things differently there’. In Fash, I wanted to dive into that past, particularly one that has so many resonances with today.”
ITV Drama head Polly Hill said the scribe’s “scripts are brilliant and and tell a story that is heart-breaking and sadly still relevant today.”
ITV is also soon to premier biopics about Crossroads star Noele Gordon, starring Helena Bonham Carter, and Cary Grant, starring Jason Isaacs.