'Floodlights' viewers praise Andy Woodward's bravery over 'heartbreaking' drama

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·TV Reporter, Yahoo Entertainment UK
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Gerard Kearns will star as Andy Woodward in Floodlights. (BBC)
Gerard Kearns starred as Andy Woodward in Floodlights. (BBC)

A harrowing drama about the sexual abuse former footballer Andy Woodward suffered as a child by his coach has drawn praise from viewers who called it "brave" and "heartbreaking".

Floodlights aired on BBC Two on Tuesday, starring Shameless actor Gerard Kearns as Woodward and telling the tough story of the years of abuse he endured.

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In 2016, Woodward spoke out about his abuser, youth coach Barry Bennell, prompting many of his other victims to come forward.

Bennell was convicted of 50 sexual offences against 12 boys in 2018 and was sentenced to 31 years in prison.

Andy Woodward advised closely on the drama. (BBC)
Andy Woodward advised closely on the drama. (BBC)

Woodward has since published a book about his experiences and was closely involved in making the BBC drama about his life.

Viewers praised the difficult-to-watch drama, with one person tweeting: "#Floodlights - Compelling and altogether heartbreaking. A lad’s dreams weaponised by a monster. A dream that so many of us had and that kids around the world have every day. Andy Woodward’s bravery helped ensure that our kids don’t see their dreams turn to nightmares."

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Someone else added: "The emotional pain that Andy Woodward went through is just unimaginable. What a brave man who opened up the pathway for so many more to come forward. If ever anyone deserved a knighthood, it's him."

Another viewer wrote: "Possibly the most powerful piece of television I have ever seen! Not sure how the cast gave that performance as I am in bits! #Floodlights To all those brave boys/men who had to endure that evil man I have nothing but admiration!"

Gerard Kearns in Floodlights
Gerard Kearns played Woodward as a young footballer. (BBC)

Someone else commented: "Just watched #Floodlights. One of the most harrowing pieces of television I’ve ever seen. These boys (now men) are so brave. Andy Woodward’s life should have been so different. My heart goes out to him and all the other #CSA survivors @OffsideTrust and elsewhere."

Bennell was played by Jonas Armstrong and viewers also praised the actor for taking on such a difficult role.

One person tweeted: "I feel sick. But it’s the sign of a decent actor when they can play this type of role and make us feel this way. Kudos to Jonas."

Someone else added: "Already thinking Jonas Armstrong should be getting all the awards for this. Already kinda floored by this."

Watch: The trailer for Floodlights

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