Netflix viewers haunted by ‘heartbreaking’ child abuse drama Big Boys Don’t Cry

Netflix users have reacted to the streamer’s recent addition, a “heartbreaking” child abuse drama titled Big Boys Don’t Cry.

The British drama was released in 2020 but was only recently added to Netflix, on 23 December.

Big Boys Don’t Cry partly fictionalises the real life story of Paul Connolly, who was abandoned in a dustbin as a two-week-old baby and later abused at the infamous St Leonard’s children’s home in Essex, where children were routinely subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

This Is England star Michael Socha plays Connolly as an adult, with newcomer Mitchell Norman playing the younger version of the character.

St Leonard’s was a children’s home in Essex that was operated by Tower Hamlets London Borough Council. It operated from the late Sixties until the early Eighties.

According to The Guardian, the home saw 3,000 children pass through its doors until it closed in 1984. Numerous children at St Leonard’s were abused and raped by multiple staff members.

The drama stars Brett Fancy as Bill Starling, a house parent who assaulted or raped 11 victims aged from five years old to 14 over a 20-year-period. Starling was jailed for 14 years in 2001.

Big Boys Don’t Cry is set between Connolly’s childhood and his twenties, when he is released from prison and works as a bouncer. He is forced to confront his abusive childhood when the death of his boyhood friend triggers a police investigation.

In real life, Connolly never went to prison. After he learned to read when he was 25, he wrote and self-published a bestselling memoir, titled Against All Odds, in 2010.

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