ITV reveals John & Justin Fashanu football drama, from Kwame Kwei-Armah

John & Justin Fashanu

ITV in the UK has ordered Fash, a real life drama exploring the relationship between footballers John and Justin Fashanu that comes from Breaking’s Kwame Kwei-Armah.

The series, whose first episode will debut on ITV1 and then become available on streamer ITVX, is being produced by Happy Prince, the ITV Studios-backed prodco founded by Dominic Treadwell-Collins. ITVS will sell the show globally.

The story will track the brothers’ lives, which saw them live in care homes during their youth before becoming famous footballers. Both were subject of hugh profile signings by clubs, but their careers then diverged.

In 1990, Justin became the first professional footballer to publicly come out as gay. In 1998, with his football career in tatters and ostracised by his family, he commited suicide. At the time of his death, he was wholly estranged with his brother.

ITV described the show as “the unvarnished, unflinchingly honest and heart-breaking story of two young men each trapped in their own damaging and dangerous notions of masculinity that traverses back and forth across their eventful lives, from a childhood spent in Dr Barnado’s care homes in the care of a white foster family, when they had nobody to rely on but each other amid an overwhelmingly white community which always saw them as ‘other’, to their tragic and irreconcilable estrangement that played out across the national media.”

It will “skilfully, powerfully and resolutely expose the toxic prejudices that ran to the heart of Britain at the time – both socially and institutionally – which catalysed the breakdown of these two brothers’ relationship, from the entrenched racism and homophobia ingrained in sport, and in football in particular, to the dangerously intrusive and relentless tabloid media which stoked such hate.”

John Fashanu is closely involved in the drama, serving as consultant on the series alongside Peter Tatchell.

“Much has been said and written about the relationship Justin and I shared over the years, but drama of this type has an ability to delve right to the beating heart and truth of events in a way other media can’t,” said John Fashanu. “I feel privileged to play a part in bringing it to the screen.”

Kwei-Armah added: “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.”

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