REG KEYS was catapulted into the media spotlight when his son – Lance Corporal Tom Keys – was gunned down and murdered by an Iraqi mob in 2003.
He has taken his fight for answers over why Tom and his fellow soldiers were sent, unarmed and with no radio communication, into a hostile Iraqi environment right to the very top.
He even stood against Tony Blair in the 2005 General Election in a bid to raise the profile of his campaign for the truth – and for an apology from the then Prime Minister.
And now his fight is to be turned into a BBC One drama documentary – with Hollywood star Tim Roth playing the main role of the former Paramedic, who now lives in Hollywood himself – Hollywood just outside Solihull.
The drama – simply entitled Reg – has been created by award-winning television writer Jimmy McGovern, whose CV includes Brookside, Cracker and The Lakes to name a few.
The 90-minute drama, which is expected to be aired early 2016 and is being made by Liverpool Academy Productions, also stars Becoming Jane and Death Comes to Pemberley actress Anna Maxwell Martin as Reg’s late wife Sally, who died in December 2011 after a long illness, described by Reg as her ‘losing her will to live after Tom was murdered’.
Filming is currently underway for the drama – and Mr Keys has just returned from a weekend in Liverpool where he met the writer and the stars of the show.
This included a night out on the town with Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs star Tim Roth.
The pair shared a few pints and a curry while they talked about the story, about Reg’s life, about Tom, Sally and the couple’s other son Richard.
Tim Roth’s vocal coach also joined them to make sure the actor nails Reg’s voice and mannerisms.
“It is all quite surreal really,” Reg told Observer editor Chris Willmott.
“To have a Hollywood star like Tim play me in a drama about my life and to have dinner with him to talk about it all is a world away from normal life.
“He is in almost daily touch with me by phone or text too – asking for advice on things, my views on how things should be played – and even asking if I still have certain items of clothing he could wear to help him become me.”
Mr Keys’ visit also included a read through of the script in which he said he was completely thrown when Anna Maxwell Martin took on the role of Sally.
“It was like she was back in the room,” he said.
“The drama shows Sally’s meltdown which is tough, but necessary to highlight the impact of what happened to our family and the families of the other boys.”
Mr Keys says he has never wanted fame or media coverage for himself – just for his campaign for Tom.
But he added he is delighted the production is happening, for one simple reason, to show people just what Tony Blair did and to heap some embarrasment and hopefuly some regret onto him.
“I have lost all my other battles for justice,” he added.
“Tom’s killers have not been brought to justice, the army hasn’t been brought to justice for its failures and Tony Blair hasn’t been brought to justice for his role in Tom’s death.
“We have unsettled business and this drama will certainly help.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the end product.”
Writer Jimmy McGovern added: “It was an honour to meet Reg Keys, a truly remarkable man, and it has been a privilege to tell this part of his story.”
* Turn to page 15 for more on Reg Keys’ fight for truth and justice.
Reg follows the true story of Reg Keys on a journey of grief and defiance after his son Tom Keys is one of six RMPs murdered in Al Majar, Iraq.
As Reg and his wife Sally have their lives torn apart, questions begin to arise not only around the events that led to their son’s death but also the legitimacy of the war as a whole.
Left with questions that the New Labour government and Prime Minister Tony Blair refuse to answer, Reg decides to stand as an independent candidate in Blair’s own constituency of Sedgefield.