Anthony star Toheeb Jimoh on racism in the UK: ‘A lot of people think it’s just an American problem – it isn’t’

The star of 90-minute drama Anthony has said that racism is "a UK problem at well".

Anthony (BBC)

Anthony star Toheeb Jimoh, who portrays Merseyside student Anthony Walker in the BBC One drama about his killing, has spoken about the film airing at the height of the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement.

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Speaking at a Q&A roundtable, the actor said that the rise of the Black Lives Matter protests around the release of the drama, which will air on the 15th anniversary of Anthony Walker’s death, is “a brilliant coincidence”.

“The fact that this coincides with the 15th anniversary and the Black Lives Matter movement and everything comes together is brilliant.”

He continued: “Now this film gets to be a part of a bigger conversation, which is great. It roots it in what our society’s struggles with racism are and what we need to address.”

“It’s a UK problem as well. A lot of people look at the Black Lives Matter movement and think it’s an American problem. It isn’t,” he added. “We have a lot to look at and talk about ourselves. I’m just glad that this film gets to be part of the conversation – it’s super important that we deal with it well.”

Anthony, a 90-minute drama by Hillsborough and The Street writer Jimmy McGovern, tells the story of the life Anthony Walker could have lived had he not been murdered in a racist attack in 2005.

Based on conversations McGovern had with Anthony Walker’s mother Gee, the special follows Anthony as he is accepted into a barristers’ chambers, marries his long-term girlfriend and has a child – opportunities robbed from him when he was killed at the age of 18.

Jimoh, who hadn’t played a real person before in his acting career, said that portraying Anthony made him reflect on his own life and how the racist attack could have happened to him.

Anthony Walker
Merseyside teenager Anthony Walker was murdered in a racist attack in 2005
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“One thing I was painfully aware of was that, had I been born at a different time, and had I been at that bus stop in Liverpool, that could have been me, that could have been anyone,” he said. “That was the main thing I thought about.”

“As much as the story was important and there was a lot of responsibility and we all wanted to make sure the story was special and we told it well, I had in my head that this is Anthony’s story but it could have been anybody’s story. As a young black boy myself… it was super-important to me and it was a subject super-close do my heart.”

He continued: “I’m going to have these moments in my life. I’m going to get to hopefully get married and get to do all these things that Anthony didn’t get to do. And that’s part of his legacy – it was inspiring and I took a lot from that.”

Jimoh graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2018, and has since filmed roles in Apple TV series Ted Lasso, Amazon’s The Power and Wes Anderson’s upcoming film The French Dispatch.

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Anthony will air on BBC One at 8:30pm on Monday 27th July. If you’re looking for something to watch, check out our TV Guide.