SOUTH Yorkshire’s Ashes To Ashes star and football fan Dean Andrews says it was a honour to be part of BBC2 TV drama United - the story of Manchester United’s tragic Busby Babes, writes Graham Walker.
He plays coach Bert Whalley, one of 23 victims in the 1958 Munich air disaster, which claimed the lives of many players, amongst them Barnsley’s own Tommy Taylor, from Monk Bretton, and Mark Jones, from Wombwell.
United, which also stars former Doctor Who David Tennant as assistant coach Jimmy Murphy, was aired on BBC2 on Sunday, April 24, at 9pm. It’s now available on the iPlayer at bbc.co.uk/iplayer - or click the External Link, in the column on the right.
“I feel as though I’ve know the story all my life - it’s part of football folklore and to be able to tell it, to be able to put the answers to some of the questions maybe, is quite an honour,’’ said Rotherham United fan Dean.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our full video interview with Dean talking about his role in United.
YOUTUBE: You can also watch our video report on YouTube and this can be viewed on the iPhone and iPad - simply click the External Link in the column on the right,
Dean, who appeared recently in haunted house drama Marchlands and is best known as DS Ray Carling in Life On Mars and spin off Ashes To Ashes, told of the poignant moment when they recreated a famous photo of the squad, just as they were about to board the doomed plane.
It crashed on its third attempt to take off in icy conditions on a slush-covered runway.
“Because we’ve all been brought up with this story we have such an empathy and a sympathy with the situation and effect that it had on people. When people have tragedy in their lives you can relate to it,’’ said Dean, from Rotherham and living in Barnsley.
“The actual photo taken of the team boarding the plane was used to make sure we were all in the right positions and had the right stance. Mark Jones is there, with his trilby hat and long trench coat on. Everything was recreated as it was.
“You see us getting on the plane, then sat on it and the crash afterwards - the aftermath.
“We shot the scene in Newcastle and there was snow on the ground.
“This is the first time here’s been a drama about the crash and we felt a responsibility to get to right, not least of all because people involved and their families are still alive. It was a honour to be involved.”
He told how he went for a look around the Manchester United museum at Old Trafford as part of his research for the role.
And he singled out for praise Doncaster actor Thomas Howes, recently seen as William in Downton Abbey, who plays Mark Jones.
Dean, who lives just a few miles from Jones’ grave in Wombwell cemetery, added: “Thomas is similar to Mark Jones, who apparently was ‘far older than his years’ in his actions - Tom is very much like that, a 24-year-old in a 45-year-old’s body. He’s very suited to the older type role.
“We get to hear him sing. There’s a dinner after the European game, before the team’s journey home, and he sings On Ilkley Moor Bah Tat. So we get to hear his vocal ability.”