When is factual drama Responsible Child on TV?

Everything you need to know about BBC Two's dark drama exploring England’s minimum age of criminal responsibility

Responsible Child

BAFTA-winning documentary maker Nick Holt makes his drama debut at the helm of this thought-provoking drama, inspired by real-life events, about a young boy charged with murder and tried in an adult court.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Responsible Child…


When is Responsible Child on TV?

The one-off factual drama will air on Monday December 16th at 9pm on BBC2.

What is Responsible Child about?

Responsible Child

Based on real-life events, Responsible Child (written by Skins’ Sean Buckley) tells the story of Ray, a 12-year-old, who along with his 23-year-old older brother Nathan is arrested for murdering their abusive stepfather. Both are tried as adults, as the series explores England’s minimum age of criminal responsibility and its ramifications.

Set across two time frames — the run-up to the murder and the trial itself — the series closely follows Ray, a sensitive child and former carer to his infant half-siblings, and questions whether a child can ever be as responsible for their actions as an adult.

Nick Holt, the show’s director, says: “Whilst making The Murder Trial I discovered that in England, we put children as young as ten on trial for murder. It’s an extraordinary and little-known aspect of our justice system. Ten is one of the lowest ages in the world and breaches our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time, since I attended the trial on which our film is based, and I’m delighted to be working with Kudos and the BBC.”

Is Responsible Child based on a true story?

Although the series is meant to be a standalone that draws from various testimonies and cases, the film appears to be loosely based on the 2014 case of Jerome Ellis, 14, and his older brother Joshua, 23, who murdered their stepfather in a savage knife attack as he lay on the family sofa. Jerome was he was sentenced to six years in detention for manslaughter on the basis of loss of control.

Like the fictional Ray, Jerome was a carer for his younger half-siblings, while Joshua, a recluse who struggled with depression, spent much of the time in the family attic. Both stated that their stepfather was abusive, and had previously threatened to kill Joshua.

Who stars in Responsible Child?

Responsible Child
Director Nick Holt with actor Tom Burke (BBC Pictures)

12-year-old child actor Billy Barratt (Blinded By The Light, The White Princess) plays the central role, Ray, and is joined by Michelle Fairley (Game Of Thrones, Suits) as Ray’s defence barrister; Tom Burke (Souvenir, Strike) as the prosecution lawyer; and Stephen Campbell Moore (The History Boys, The Last Post) as a court-mandated child psychologist.

Also starring are Owen McDonnell (Killing Eve), Shaun Dingwall (Noughts and Crosses, Topboy), Debbie Honeywood (Sorry We Missed You, Vera), Angela Wynter (Le Miserables) and James Tarpey (Our Robot Overlords) as Ray’s older brother Nathan.

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Is there a trailer for Responsible Child?

Not yet, we’ll keep you posted.