Why ITV crews wouldn’t film in car park where Rhys Jones was shot

Little Boy Blue is back on our screens as ITV revisits the emotional four-part drama about the murder of schoolboy Rhys Jones.

Viewers in Liverpool will recognise a number of real life locations used in the series – but one location was crucially left out.

The show was filmed in Liverpool and first aired in 2017, but producers chose not to film in the car park where Rhys was murdered.

Bosses even used the actual courtroom where Sean Mercer stood trial for the murder – but producer Kwadjo Dajan said they felt it would be too upsetting for the community to film in the car park where Rhys was shot.

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He said: “When you’re filming a project like this, you have to go about your business in a sensitive and carefully thought out way. There would have been absolutely no value in recreating this sequence on the doorstep of where it happened.

“Apart from not wanting to stoke up any unnecessary attention, there was no way of knowing what kind of impact this would have had on Rhys’ family, neighbours and friends.

“We didn’t want to take it anywhere near the actual location, so we made a conscious decision to film those scenes outside of the city."

The series was produced with the blessing of Rhys' family, who wanted to send a message to the people responsible for their son's murder and the cover-up which followed.

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The producers praised the city after revealing people constantly asked whether Rhys’ parents were on board with the production when they were out and about on location.

Kwadjo said the people they encountered were “very protective” of Melanie and Steve Jones – comparing them to “extended family members”.

He said: “While we were in production in Liverpool the first question everybody asked was ‘Are the parents involved? What do Melanie and Steve think about this?’ That was really special to see and hear.

“We gained a lot of goodwill once it became apparent the family were behind us, and this helped circumvent a lot of problems we otherwise might have had.”

Rhys’ family were heavily involved in the production – meeting the actors who were to play them, as well as meeting Stephen Graham who portrays the former Merseyside Police detective Dave Kelly, the senior investigating officer in the case.

Other locations included the Anglican Cathedral – where Rhys’ funeral took place, and Liverpool Crown Court, where Sean Mercer’s trial was held.

The scenes featuring the case were filmed in the actual courtroom where they took place – with Rhys’ dad Steve visiting on the day and praising the young actors for their portrayal of those involved.

In a particularly emotional scene in the first episode, show bosses recreated the minute applause held for Rhys at Goodison Park just days after his murder.

Show bosses have praised the 39,000 Everton fans – including Rhys’ brother Owen and dad Steve – who gave up their half time break at the match to take part in the shoot.

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Kwadjo said: “There’s a sequence in the first episode where we film a minute applause for Rhys at Goodison Park. We advertised it in the week leading up to the shoot, and were stunned when all 39,000 in the crowd gave up their half-time break to participate.

“They clapped us on to the pitch and perfectly observed the minute’s applause, then they applauded us off the pitch. It was a special experience. I still get goosebumps thinking about it now.”

“After coming off the pitch I had a text from Rhys’s dad Steve to say well done. Rhys’s brother Owen was also in the crowd that day. I told him how classy the club had been, and by the end of the shoot half our crew had purchased some kind of Everton memorabilia – even one or two of the Reds fans.”

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