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In County Durham, during the endless, violent 1984 strike against the Margaret Thatcher closure of British coal mines, widower Jackie Elliot Widower (Gary Lewis) and his firstborn, fellow miner Tony (Jamie Draven), take a dim view of 11-year-old second son Billy's (Jamie Bell) poor record in boxing class, which worsens when they discover he sneakily transferred to the neighboring, otherwise girls-only-attended ballet class. Only one schoolmate, closet-gay Michael Caffrey (Stuart Wells), encourages Billy's desire, aroused by the teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson (Dame Julie Walters), who judged him talented enough for private lessons, to train and try out for the world-renowned Royal Ballet audition. Only the prospect of a fancy career unimagined in the pauper quarter may twist pa and big brother's opposition to indispensable support.