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The true story behind ITV drama Stephen

The fact-based drama series is the sequel to ITV's The Murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Published: Thursday, 26th August 2021 at 3:56 pm

ITV's fact-based drama Stephen, starring Steve Coogan and Sharlene Whyte, tells the true story of the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.


The drama tells the story of how DCI Clive Driscoll – working closely with the Lawrences – puts together an investigation that finally secures the convictions of two of the perpetrators, more than 18 years after Stephen's murder.

Alan Partridge star Steve Coogan said it was an "honour" to star in ITV drama Stephen, in which he plays Driscoll, who managed to secure convictions for two of Lawrence's murderers.

Speaking to and other press, Coogan said: "It was an honour to play Clive really, because as an actor I don't often play nice people... So it was a nice change for me to play someone who had integrity, simple unannounced integrity, if you like."

The real-life former DCI Clive Driscoll has discussed Steve Coogan's casting in Stephen, revealing he thanked the Alan Partridge actor for starring in the ITV drama, and for "keeping Stephen's story out there".

Read on for the real-life history behind ITV drama Stephen.

What is the true story behind ITV drama Stephen?

Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered as a teenager, is the subject of an ITV drama
Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered as a teenager, is the subject of ITV drama Stephen

Black British teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered on the evening of 22nd April 1993 in a racially motivated attack.

The attack occurred while Lawrence was waiting for a bus in Well Hall Road, Eltham, in South East London. Stephen was out with his friend, Duwayne Brooks; the pair had gone round to Stephen's uncle's house after school in order to play video games.

“I was working at Brixton at the time [of the murder]. From what I heard, I genuinely felt it would definitely be solved," recalled the real-life former DCI Clive Driscoll (played by Steve Coogan in Stephen), who would later take on the case.

Stephen and Duwayne "left to go home and were waiting for a bus on Well Hall Road in Eltham, south east London. On the other side of the road I believe there were six people. They always talk about five. But I believe there were six," Driscoll said.

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“Stephen had headphones on and wouldn’t have known what was happening to him. The gang ran over and attacked Stephen, who was apart from his friend Duwayne. The gang engulfed Stephen and he was stabbed twice. An incredibly cowardly attack. They were both totally innocent young men making their way home."

He continued, “When our later investigation began in 2006 I used to go down to Well Hall Road to read statements. I’m dyslexic so I’m not as clever with words as other people are. For it to come alive for me I have to virtually do it."

How did DCI Clive Driscoll become involved in the Stephen Lawrence investigation?

In the first episode of Stephen, set in 2006, detective Clive Driscoll (Steve Coogan) is in the process of closing down an old police station, when he stumbles across a room full of evidence related to the Stephen Lawrence murder.

Although this seems almost improbable, this is in fact exactly how DCI Clive Driscoll got involved in the case in real life.

He said, “The Met had sold Deptford police station in 2006 and I was sent there to close it down. It was there I found a room full of papers relating to Operation Fishpool – the Stephen Lawrence murder.

"I can remember walking around the room thinking, ‘This can’t be right.’ Then coming straight out of there and phoning Cressida Dick, who was the commander then, to say, ‘I’ll take that on.’ So the decision was made and I took it on from 20th June 2006."

Stephen ITV

He continued, “What I found was a bit like the Marie Celeste. You knew people had been there but they weren’t there any more. We ended up with an initial 540 boxes of papers at Deptford and then more because we kept finding them.

"Even in 2008, we found loads more stuff. To me it was a new investigation, but the Met described it as a case review.”

Who was convicted for Stephen Lawrence's murder?

It took over 18 years after Stephen Lawrence's death for his killers to be brought to justice, as the original investigation had failed to convict those responsible.

Two of the attackers, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were found guilty of murder at The Old Bailey in January 2012.

The drama Stephen begins in 2006 with a turning point in the case, and ahead of the ITV three-part drama, Clive Driscoll recounted the breakthrough for the investigation.

SHARLENE WHYTE as Doreen Lawrence,JORDEN MYRIE as Stuart Lawrence and YASMIN MWANZA as Georgina Lawrence.

“We re-enacted how Stephen could have been attacked and took that video to LGC Forensics in Oxfordshire. We asked them not to treat what happened as a brief attack. They then found fibres linking some of the suspects to Stephen. That gave everybody a fresh impetus," he said.

He continued, “The real breakthrough came in 2008 when they fired some ultraviolet light on clothing. On one fibre from Gary Dobson’s jacket they noticed something. It turned out to be Stephen’s blood and it had to be wet when it hit the jacket. Gary Dobson was found not guilty in 1996, under the Criminal Justice Act – or double jeopardy – so it had to be new and compelling evidence. We took our evidence to Keir Starmer, who was the Director of Public Prosecutions at the time, who agreed we had enough new and compelling evidence to take Gary Dobson to court.”

Stephen will start on Monday 30th August at 9pm on ITV. The series consists of three episodes and is a sequel to ITV's The Murder of Stephen Lawrence.


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