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The Murder of Stephen Lawrence      TV 14, L, V
One 2-hour episode
Airing Monday, January 21, 2002, on PBS
(Check local listings.)

The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, a gripping, gritty and intense docudrama, is a radical departure in storytelling for Masterpiece Theatre. But this two-hour presentation is markedly effective in its depiction of the senseless murder of an innocent young man and the convoluted investigation and pursuit of justice that followed.

Within 24 hours of Stephen's murder on April 23, 1993 in a London suburb, police had the names of five suspects. Astonishingly, no arrests were made for two weeks, allowing the suspects to destroy evidence, concoct alibis, and intimidate witnesses. The murder, its investigation, and the subsequent public inquiry comprise the most important series of events in the recent history of British race relations.

The drama unfolds exactly as Stephen's parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence -- played by Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets and Lies) and Hugh Quarshie (A Respectable Trade) -- experienced it. "The Lawrences were told virtually nothing," says producer Mark Redhead. "It was, we felt, more truthful to see the story exclusively from their point of view and never let the audience know any more than they did. For us, the Lawrences's almost Kafkaesque lack of knowledge and struggle to find the truth was the heart of the story."

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