Oscar nominated coming-of-age drama film Billy Elliot is now available to stream on Netflix, with viewers diving into the emotional and inspirational story once more.


The film, which came from director Stephen Daldry (The Crown), was first released in the year 2000, and became a smash hit with viewers and critics alike, making its star Jamie Bell (All of Us Strangers) the youngest ever winner in the Best Actor in a Leading Role category at the BAFTA Film Awards.

It tells the story of Billy, a working-class boy growing up in the North East of England during the miners strike. As he discovers and develops a passion for ballet, he struggles with the expectations of his father and brother.

But is the film based on a true story? Read on for everything you need to know.

Is Billy Elliot based on a true story?

Jamie Bell as Billy Elliot, leaping into the air in the street with ballet shoes hanging around his neck
Jamie Bell as Billy Elliot. Universal Studios

For the most part, no - Billy Elliot is not based on a specific true story. The tale of Billy, his family and Mrs Wilkinson is all fictionalised.

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However, there are elements of the film which are based on fact. For instance, the film delves into the true history surrounding the 1984-1985 miner's strike and how the closure of the mines impacted towns across the UK.

The film's writer Lee Hall has also said that the character of Billy and his journey was inspired by Sir Thomas Allen, an opera singer who faced similar struggles to Billy's as he tried to pursue his artistic dreams while growing up in the North East. He went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London.

Is Billy Elliot based on a play?

Jamie Bell as Billy Elliot and Julie Walters as Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot, dancing around a gym
Jamie Bell as Billy Elliot and Julie Walters as Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot. Universal Studios

Yes and no. Billy Elliot isn't based entirely on a play, but its screenwriter Lee Hall did develop it from his own stage show, Dancer, which premiered as a rehearsed reading in 1998 at a theatre in Newcastle upon Tyne.

That play itself was actually inspired by a book of photography, Step by Step, which came from Finnish photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen and was filled with images taken at a dancing school in North Shields.

The film version of Billy Elliot would later go on to be the inspiration for a stage musical, Billy Elliot: The Musical, which was created as a collaboration between Hall and Elton John.

The musical opened five years after the film was released, in 2005, and has toured all around the World, including runs in London's West End and on Broadway in New York City.

Billy Elliot is available to stream on Netflix now. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.


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