Idris Elba narrates first 3D social issue documentary Irons in the Fire

The actor says he lent his voice to the film about deprived teenagers turning their lives around because it 'resonated with his life'

Idris Elba has given his support to the UK’s first 3D social issue documentary, Irons in the Fire.

The TV film follows five young Londoners from deprived backgrounds who have managed to change their lives around after getting involved in charitable initiatives in their communities.

Elba, who has narrated and associate produced the documentary, said he lent his voice to the film because it reminded him of his own life story.

“The film resonated with me because I recognised the things that I went through. It’s important these messages get out there,” he said.

The Luther actor, from Hackney, east London, left school at 16 and was only able to pursue his acting career thanks to a £1,500 grant from The Prince’s Trust.

The young people featured in the documentary include Ben, 24, a former drug-dealing car thief from Canning Town who enrolled on a cooking apprenticeship at Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant while in prison and has been cooking professionally since.   

And Ashley, 19, from Leytonstone, a disabled teenager who has learned to play table tennis competitively and is now ranked top 20 in the world.

Filmed in 3D, the stylised documentary also features George the Poet, a spoken word artist and Cambridge graduate who was brought up on a London council estate and now has a recording contract with Universal.

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Ashley, 19, has transformed his life after training to be a professional table tennis player

Joe Dives, a producer who created the documentary through new film company Neon Aztec, said he hoped to show a different side to the negative image often portrayed of teenagers in the media.

“Especially after the riots, young people were portrayed as ‘feral’ youth by the mainstream media. I wanted to find a more balanced reality and show how opportunity can transform lives,” he said.

“Negative stories hit the headlines, but all across the country young people are triumphing above adversity, enabled by youth organisations that have so much positive impact.”

Irons in the Fire airs tonight on Sky Arts and Sky 3D at 6.30

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