Rakie Ayola, winner of the Best Support Actress award for her role in "Anthony", poses in the Winners Room at the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards 2021 at Television Centre on June 6, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Bafta TV awards 2021: Rakie Ayola’s moving tribute to murdered teenager Anthony Walker

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“If you think for a second that you know anybody who thinks all they have is to take the life of another, do whatever you can to stop them,” says Bafta winner Rakie Ayola.

On 29 July, 2005, Anthony Walker was waiting at a bus stop with his girlfriend, Louise Thompson, when they attracted the attention of Michael Barton and Paul Taylor.

Within moments, Barton and Taylor began hurling racist abuse at the couple and, when Walker and Thompson walked away, pursued them in their car. Barton and Taylor ambushed the teens when they reached the park. While Thompson managed to escape and ran away to get help, Walker was fatally wounded when Taylor hit him in the head with an ice axe.

He died in hospital in the early hours of the morning on 30 July 2005.

Rakie Ayola as Gee Walker in BBC One’s Anthony.
Rakie Ayola as Gee Walker in BBC One’s Anthony.

Now, 16 years later, Rakie Ayola has been awarded Best Supporting Actress at the 2021 TV Baftas for portraying Anthony’s mother, Gee Walker, in Anthony, Jimmy McGovern’s BBC One film about the life the teenager could have lived.

In an emotional speech, the talented actor said: “Gee Walker; thank you for having the bravery and the strength to ask Jimmy McGovern to write your son’s story, and to celebrate the person that Anthony Walker should have been, and never was.”

Ayola continued: “I would ask anyone, if you think for a second that you know anybody who thinks all they have is to take the life of another, do whatever you can to stop them.

“Gee Walker said to me the one reason she wanted her son’s story to be told is because she thought people might watch it and they might think about it just long enough for someone to get away, just a few seconds to get up off the floor and run.”

Later, on Twitter, Ayola said: “Thank you for this @BAFTA, and congratulations you brilliant women and all other nominees. I’m chuffed to be amongst you. 

“No, I’m not chuffed… I’m thrilled.”

The 2021 TV Baftas is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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