Richard Taylor spoke to What's on TV ahead of a BBC1 drama about his family's struggle to cope with Damilola’s murder in 2000
The father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor has revealed he still can’t bring himself to forgive his son’s killers.
Richard Taylor, who spent many years fighting to bring the youths responsible to justice, spoke to the press following a screening of Our Loved Boy, a BBC1 drama telling the Taylor family’s story.
Damilola was killed in November 2000 as he walked home from school through Peckham. In the years since his son’s death, Richard founded the Damilola Taylor Trust and has been a strong anti-knife crime campaigner, yet he said he still can’t forget the agony his family suffered following his son’s death.
“We have moved on from that period but the pain can never go away,” said Richard. “For me, the question of forgiveness is still something I’m searching my heart for because such a tragedy – what it has done to my life has been so painful.
“A very indescribable pain and such is the situation that even though we have moved on, the question of forgiveness is still not there for me to decide upon.”
Babou Ceesay plays Richard in this feature-length drama and although initially the actor wanted to meet the man he was playing, the film’s director persuaded him not to…
“When the director floated the idea that I shouldn’t meet Richard I resisted at first,” explained Babou. “I thought it would be impossible to do it without meeting him, but the director said what we’re doing will never amount to what Richard actually went through. I eventually met him after he’d seen the drama and I was very nervous.”
To Babou’s relief, Richard Taylor was pleased with the drama..
“Babou has displayed great experience in playing my role,” explained Richard. “He showed some form of my personality in being angry about the death of my son and he’s very good. My friend asked why someone so young was playing me though!”
Babou, who recently starred alongside Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters in Channel 4 drama National Treasure, remembers the day Damilola died and the collective grief which descended on London. But he still wasn’t prepared for how tough this project would be…
“Emotionally it was a massive challenge, I didn’t realise how much it had drained me,” said Babou. “We had days on set… the one on the stairwell. We got there and the stairs were wet and that catches you. I have a three year-old daughter and that was a difficult day. But nothing compared to the real situation, so you stay humble.”
Our Loved Boy writer, Levi David Addai also wanted to advise viewers that the drama wouldn’t be focusing on the case itself, but the effect Damilola’s death had on the Taylor family.
“The accused have had their time in the limelight,” he said. “This isn’t about them. What people need to know more about are the real heroes of this, the people that went through it, the people that come back to this place every day. What kept them together?
“Statistically, so many families who go through these sorts of tragedies end up splitting apart, the husband and wife get divorced. But Richard and Gloria Taylor stayed together and that’s what needed to be focused on.”
Our Loved Boy screens on Monday, November 7 on BBC1