Prime Suspect 1973, Stefanie Martini

ITV PRIME SUSPECT 1973 Pictured :STEFANIE MARTINI as Jane Tennison. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

If the cap fits – Stefanie Martini as novice cop Jane Tennison

A prequel that tries hard but is nowhere near as arresting as the original

★★★ ITV, Thursday, 2 March, 9pm

IT’S BEEN nine years since DCI Jane Tennison, played so unforgettably by Helen Mirren, gave up her warrant card. Lynda La Plante’s Prime Suspect originally launched in 1991 and had a huge impact with its depiction of a determined woman in a workplace male stronghold and some gritty storylines.

As happened with Morse, however, ITV couldn’t let it go. Where Endeavour has gone already, Prime Suspect 1973 now follows.

Stefanie Martini is the fresh-face WPC Tennison. She’s a ‘posh sort’ from Maida Vale, defying her stuffy parents to work as a put-upon constable in Hackney.

Tennison’s first murder case

If the sexism was bad in 1991, it was epic in 1973. The 22-year-old Tennison is obliged to make tea, put up with regular bollockings, male leering and wipe up vomit when a prisoner pukes.

ITV PRIME SUSPECT 1973 Pictured L-R :JESSICA GUNNING as Kath Morgan,TOMMY MCDONNELL as DC Hudson,STEFANIE MARTINI as Jane Tennison,SAM REID as DCI Len Bradfield,JOSHUA HILL as DC Edwards,DANIEL EZRA as DC Ashton and BLAKE HARRISON as DS Spencer Gibbs. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Police line-up – Jessica Gunning as Kath Morgan,Tommy McDonnell as DC Hudson,Stefanie Martini as Jane Tennison,San Reid as DCI Len Bradfield, Joshua Hill as DC Edwards, Daniel Ezra as DC Ashton and Blake Harrison as DS Gibbs

Meanwhile, a teenage female is found strangled on the Kingsmead Estate. She is a young runaway.

What lets this series opener down is that it feels flat. The male neanderthals we know well. And how many crime series have opened with the corpse of a young woman.

Love in the air already?

Romance with Tennison’s sympathetic boss, the similarly posh DI Bradfield (Sam Reid), could be looming and it’s obvious that the novice is going to try to solve the murder case single-handedly.

The original set such high standards that it was hard not to hope that this reboot, based on Lynda La Plante’s bestselling novel Tennison, would shake us up with something distinctive. Instead, it’s sort of OK.

ITV PRIME SUSPECT 1973 Pictured :STEFANIE MARTINI as Jane Tennison. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Sharp end – Tennison’s first autopsy

Many TV dramas these days have intricately woven stories running simultaneously. This has a little business going on in prison with Alun Armstrong, but otherwise it follows Tennison’s introduction to vomit clean-ups, the emotional next-of-kin visit and an autopsy.

Its good points are a pretty decent cast, the realistic Hackney setting and that the period depiction is not a nostalgia fest. Alun Armstrong is always good value, and Stefanie Martini has the star presence to hold together what is, unfortunately, a rather cliched story.

Prime Suspect – Killer TV No5

New Tricks final series, BBC1

Programme Name: New Tricks - TX: n/a - Episode: New Tricks Series 12 - generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Danny Griffin (NICHOLAS LYNDHURST), DCI Sasha Miller (TAMZIN OUTHWAITE), Ted Case (LARRY LAMB), Steve McAndrew (DENIS LAWSON) - (C) Headstrong Pictures - Photographer: Amanda Searle

Final four – Danny Griffin (Nicholas Lyndhurst), DCI Sasha Miller (Tamzin Outhwaite), Ted Case (Larry Lamb), Steve McAndrew (Denis Lawson)

The cold case oldsters of UCOS return for the last 10 episodes of the popular light-hearted crime drama

★★★ BBC1, starts Tuesday, 4 August, 9pm

AND NOW, the end is near, as the New Tricks crew faces the final curtain. Of course, the crew isn’t what it used to be following the recent spiky departures of hugely popular cast members James Bolam, Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong.

New Tricks series 12 Gerry

Skeletons come back to haunt Gerry

Dennis Waterman is still there living up to his character’s nickname of Gerry ‘Last Man’ Standing, but even he will be bailing out after the first two episodes of this final series. Larry Lamb, familiar to viewers from EastEnders and Gavin & Stacey, will replace him as the 12th series runs its course.

It may be a little unfair on the newcomers to the show – Denis Lawson,Tamzin Outhwaite and Nicholas Lyndhurst – but it was always going to be a tall order to step in and replicate the chemistry of the original four, who were major audience favourites from earlier classics such as Minder and Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?

New Tricks has been huge for BBC1

But even before their exodus began with James Bolam’s departure in 2011, New Tricks was really past its prime. Bolam called it stale, Amanda Redman said it was bland and Alun Armstrong didn’t like that his character had ‘got saner’.

Still, it’s been a storming success for Auntie. It started in 2003 with the motley crew of retired detectives coming together to probe cold case files under the beady eye of Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Redman).

It often crushed other shows scheduled against it, with series 8 frequently coming close to hitting 10million viewers. Even Dennis Waterman’s jaunty theme It’s Alright couldn’t dent its success. [Read more…]

This Is Personal: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper — Killer 50 No.37

ITV, 2000
‘You mean he’s going for innocent women now’ – Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield
Alun Armstrong, Richard Ridings, James Laurenson, John Duttine
Identikit: Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield takes over the police investigation into the hunt for the 1970s serial killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper, a campaign that becomes bogged down in errors and data overload.

logos

Dramatisation of the real-life investigation for the Yorkshire Ripper in the late 1970s, a meticulous and evocative exploration of the human miscalculations and technical shortcomings of the campaign to track down Peter Sutcliffe. Alun Armstrong puts in a powerful performance as Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield, whose health and career come under strain as the investigation stagnates, drinking and smoking his way through most scenes and going from gruff and forceful to a twitching, gasping wreck by the end of this 120-minute drama. Initially, Oldfield’s arrival seems to give the investigation renewed vigour, as he shifts it away from detectives relying on ‘instinct’ and introduces better record keeping and methodology. This approach is not popular at first, one senior officer asking sarcastically, ‘Can you catch a murderer with paperwork?’ However, the police effort is still blighted by blatant sexism (‘innocent’ women who’d been attacked and offered statements were often discounted because the Ripper was only thought to target prostitutes), along with inter-force rivalries and general confusion. As the years pass and the murder toll rises, Yorkshire police collect some 60 conflicting descriptions of the perpetrator. As one officer says, if it turns out to be Quasimodo they’ve probably got a photofit of him somewhere. And Oldfield himself says in exasperation that they’ve checked bearded men, unbearded, soldiers, sailors, engineers, agricultural workers, big men, little men… And then comes the infamous ‘Wearside Jack’ hoax tape, which throws the investigation off the scent of Sutcliffe’s stamping grounds of Leeds/Bradford towards Sunderland. The drama’s title, This Is Personal, refers to the way Oldfield took the hoaxer’s taunts personally and effectively allowed the investigation to be sidetracked. But the drama also evokes the pain and tragedy that the murder spree inflicted on the victims’ families, particularly when Oldfield promises the parents of ‘innocent’ Jayne MacDonald in 1977 to catch the teenager’s killer, a promise that loads more stress and guilt onto the detective. Apart from the killer, though, there are few baddies in this drama, just flawed individuals struggling to do the right thing – which makes it all the sadder. But the investigation was badly bungled. Before he was convicted of killing and mutilating 13 women, Sutcliffe was interviewed by police nine times, and various statements and reports pointing to him as the culprit were buried in the deluge of data coming in (computers were only just being introduced). The force of ITV’s drama was that it was sober, affecting, quite brilliantly acted (particularly by Armstong), and a world away from the clean, tidy format of most fictional cop shows.

Watercooler fact: After This Is Personal, scriptwriter Neil McKay followed up with stints on Heartbeat and Holby City, but also became something of a specialist in the far more difficult discipline of exploring real-life crimes through controversial – but award-winning – dramas such as See No Evil: The Moors Murders and Appropriate Adult (about Fred West).

More of the Killer 50

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New Tricks series 10 with Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong, Dennis Waterman, Denis Lawson

BBC's New Tricks Gerry Standing (DENNIS WATERMAN), Brian Lane (ALUN ARMSTRONG), Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (AMANDA REDMAN), Steve McAndrew (DENIS LAWSON)
Rock solid crew – Dennis Waterman, Alun Armstrong Amanda Redman and Denis Lawson. Pics: BBC


Rating: ★★★

BBC1: starts Tuesday, 30 July, 9pm

Story: Brian is suspended after assaulting an officer he suspects of covering up a death in custody which lead to his early retirement.

THE OLD DOGS are going to have to learn new tricks because there are a lot of changes coming to BBC1’s long-running hit drama.

Having lost James Bolam last time round, his replacement Denis Lawson is settling in nicely, but stalwarts Alun Armstrong and Amanda Redman are leaving during this new series. Armstrong leaves during episode four and Redman during episode eight.

Only Fools‘ Nicholas Lyndhurst along with Tamzin Outhwaite will be the replacements, with only Dennis Waterman remaining from the original quartet.

New faces could give New Tricks a boost 

This all follows the hoo-haa last year with the departing stars making noises about the characters/stories New Tricks, in which two-dimensional characters don’t grow or develop, is that it can end up going round in circles.

Harry Truman (VINCENT REGAN), Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (AMANDA REDMAN) in BBC's New Tricks
Suspect Harry charms Pullman

becoming ‘stale’ and ‘bland’. The trouble with a series such as

So, perhaps the trio of actors are rightly bored with what must have become a repetitive format for them (and us), and the drama will benefit from new faces. The danger is that Bolam and Armstrong and to a lesser extent Redman have such a pedigree of fine series behind them that their replacements won’t generate that same warmth of recognition from the show’s mature generation of fans (with the exception of Lyndhurst).

One thing’s for sure, the Beeb certainly hasn’t given up on the show, and a two-part special set in Gibraltar gets the latest outing under way in style. Called The Rock, it starts with a bang as Brian Lane, for my money the most compelling character on the show, gets up at a retirement do for one of the Met’s most successful Commanders, Bill Embleton, and promptly punches the retiree’s lights out.

Brian’s going off on one again

As usual with Brian, everyone, including his long-suffering wife Esther, thinks he’s lost his mind, but the recovering alcoholic with OCD traits has his reasons. He believes Embleton covered up a death in custody that led to Brian’s early retirement.

His assault is a do-or-die attempt to flush out the truth. Brian now faces a disciplinary hearing and could be kicked out of the force.

The other storyline concerns a convoluted investigation into the recovery of an Argentinian pistol from the Thames. This appears to be a relic from the Falklands War and is linked to the unsolved murders of a playboy shipping heir and an 11-year-old boy on Gibraltar during the ’80s.

Stop monkeying around, Gerry

The setting-up of this story is dreary, with a load of info-dumping dialogue before the fun starts in the

BBC's New Tricks Cruz (DHAFER L'ABIDINE), Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (AMANDA REDMAN)
Hands across the water – Cruz and Pullman

Med – ‘Why was he trying to raise half a million pounds before he was murdered…?’  ‘Street value of that coke must have been at least half a million…’ ‘If Christian had agreed to smuggle those drugs he’d been held responsible for their loss, wouldn’t he?’ ‘Your assumptions are arbitary at best.’

Yes, yes, anyway the plot finally gets moving in Gibraltar with the appearance of dishy Superintendent Cruz and Vincent Regan as a shady online casino owner. What New Tricks does best, however, is the humour and there are some nice moments here. One involves Gerry thinking his hotel room’s been burgled, only to find the island’s famous monkeys have got in and used it as a lavatory.

On this showing, there’s life in the old dogs still and none of the cast seem demob happy yet. So, it looks like they’ll be signing off in style as New Tricks gets its make-or-break changing of the guard.

Cast: Alun Armstrong Brian Lane, Denis Lawson Steve McAndrew, Amanda Redman Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman, Dennis Waterman Gerry Standing, Susan Jameson Esther Lane, Richard Clothier Cmdr Adam Sinclair, Vincent Regan Harry Truman, Dhaffer L’Abidine Supt Raphael Cruz, Georgia Zaris Marcia, Tim Wallers Gordon Fletcher, Vincent Riotta Levy Bossano, Gabriela Montaraz Natalie Bossano, Amanda Drew Laura Highsmith, Nicholas McGaughey Coxy, George Irving Bill Embleton, Sharon D. Clarke Sarah Kaye

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The Honourable Woman, New Tricks, Shetland, Z Cars, Inspector Nardone

Maggie Gyllenhaal has signed to appear in Hugo Blick’s new thriller, The Honourable Woman, for BBC2. Blick was behind the quirky, compelling The Shadow Line, so all-in-all this looks a bit special. Gyllenhaal will play Nessa, whose father was a Zionist arms procurer, and, as a child, she and her brother witnessed his assassination. As an adult, she inherits his business and tries to switch its purpose from arms to laying data cable between the Israel and the West Bank. The Shadow Line was convoluted but full of brilliant verbal sparring, so this new seven-parter with its spies and international setting should be thick with intrigue.

• The tenth series of New Tricks returns on Tuesday, 30 July, at 9pm. This time in the drama following the retired cold-case cops, Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) is suspended after assaulting an officer he suspects of covering up a death in custody that led to his early retirement. Stalwarts Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong will be leaving during this series, following the recent departure of James Bolam. However, Tamzin Outhwaite and Nicholas Lyndhurst will be joining Dennis Waterman and new boy Denis Lawson, so the hit drama will be facing a bit of crunch time to see if and how the fresh characters bed in. Meanwhile, the 9th and final series of CSI: NY also launches on Tuesday, 30 July, on C5. But New Tricks, wobbling from all the departures as it may be, should still see off CSI: NY in the ratings with ease.

• Must admit, I couldn’t really understand why the Beeb decided to do another series of Shetland, such was the quiet passing of the first, but they’re certainly throwing the stars at it for the next outing of the Douglas Henshall drama. Brian Cox ( The Bourne Identity) and Julie Graham (Survivors) will be on hand for the next batch of Ann Cleeve‘s stories – Raven Black, Blue Lightning and Dead Water. If the writers manage to breath some life into the characters this time round, I’ll raise a dram to them.

• If you’re an Everton supporter the Z Cars theme tune is never far away, but for the rest of us there will be a chance to renew acquaintances with the music and accompanying series that was so hugely popular and influential during the 60s and 70s. Z Cars Collection One will be released on a two-disc DVD on 2 September. Writer Troy Kennedy Martin believed that the genre needed ‘an injection of energy and bite’ and that’s what Z Cars had in abundance. Making its TV debut on the BBC in 1962, it went on to become one of the longest-running British TV shows, airing until 1978.

• Inspector Montalbano is currently on leave of absence from BBC4. But the Sicilian is not the only Italian crime-fighter on UK telly. Ever heard of Inspector Nardone? If not, that’s probably because he is tucked away on True Movies, one of the lesser known multi-channel networks. It’s a period drama set in post-war Milan and is based on a real person. Nardone (played by Sergio Assisi) is a crusading cop who roots out corruption at the Questura despite opposition from his spineless superiors. Like Montalbano, there a strain of light-heartedness and romance running through the series, and for crime fans who like the era, it’s a fresh take on the continental cop genre. Inspector Nardone returns to True Movies 1 at 1am from Saturday, 17 August, through to Friday, 23 August, and on True Drama at 1am from 12 August through to 17 August.

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New Tricks series nine DVD REVIEW

DVD: ★★★★ 

This month New Tricks has been knocking EastEnders off BBC1’s top spot.

Fans of this quietly but hugely popular series about the retired coppers delving into old cases won’t have to wait long for the DVD and Blu-ray boxsets of series nine to appear, with both coming out in November.

But is this series the final glorious blast from the show? With the excellent and much-liked James Bolam bowing out in episode one, it seemed that the chemistry between Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong and Dennis Waterman could have been dented for good.

However, Denis Lawson’s joining the crew in episode four as retired Glasgow detective Steve McAndrew did inject a little fresh feistiness into the quartet. Particularly enjoyable has been the way he’s got up the nose of Gerry Standing (Waterman).

It seems the cast shake-up has not convinced Amanda Redman to stay, the actress recently announcing she was leaving after 10 years as detective superintendent Sandra Pullman. Alun Armstrong, who plays Brian Lane, also seems to be leaving. Which means series nine is the last featuring the original gang, and begs the question of will there be many more series to come (Armstrong is committed to one more season).

Despite some of the cast moving on, and they have even criticised the show for being at times blander than it used to be, in the eyes of its fans, New Tricks series nine has still been much-see television.

DVD: release date 5 November, RRP £25.99
Blu-ray: release date 26 November, RRP £25.99

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New Tricks series 9 PREVIEW

Dennis Waterman, Amanda Redman, James Bolam, Alun Armstrong
Dennis Waterman, James Bolam, Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½ 

BBC1: starts Monday, 27 August, 9pm

Story: Jack Halford’s behaviour – secret calls, personal appointments and an obsession over an outstanding case – is causing the team some concern. But nothing can prepare them for the bombshell he’s about to drop. Halford is quitting UCOS.

In critical terms, New Tricks is bomb-proof. This comfy old cardie of a show is about to begin its ninth series and it doesn’t matter what the critics say about it, viewers like it a lot – the last series hit a new peak averaging nine-million – and a 2013 season has already been commissioned before series nine is even shown.

Having such a distinguished bunch of players is surely the major ingredient in the success of what is a rather low-key drama – the Beeb doesn’t make that much of a fuss about its return these days. Even the cast feel it has become a little bland, with Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong and Dennis Waterman all voicing criticisms in a recent Radio Times.

End of an era on New Tricks

Denis Lawson
Denis Lawson as Steve McAndrew

But for many viewers, fond memories of classic series no doubt return on watching the ensemble of Dennis Waterman (The Sweeney, Minder), James Bolam (Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, The Biederbecke Trilogy), Alun Armstrong (Our Friends in the North and dozens of other films and dramas) and Amanda Redman (At Home with the Braithwaites). That’s a lot of terrific television DNA for one series.

However, all this is about to change. As this opener, A Death in the Family, reveals, Jack Halford (played by 77-year-old James Bolam), is about to retire for good this time. Denis Lawson will be introduced during this series as his replacement. Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong are also leaving after next year’s series.

Tim McInnerny as the sneering secret agent
Why Jack is going is revealed at the end of this opener, which starts disconcertingly with a Victorian murder scene, a young woman being stalked through foggy London. Naturally, the curmudgeonly investigators think that the intelligence officer demanding they reopen the case should instead ‘shove it’, as Jack puts it.

Tim McInnerny
Tim McInnerny as Fisher

Tim McInnerny is the high-handed intelligence man, and he’s great value when butting heads with the team, particularly Sandra.

Double mystery
‘Grumpy lot, aren’t they?’ he says to DAC Strickland, a sentiment probably shared by the scriptwriter Julian Simpson, who has hit back strongly at the cast’s criticisms of the show’s writers.

Anway, the victim Abigail Padua was a maths whiz, a ‘computer’ in Victorian parlance. Her murder was made to look like robbery but it seems there may have been more of a conspiracy around her killing.

James Bolam
James Bolam as Jack

Perhaps the creative tensions between the actors and writer/directors bore fruit, because this is a cracking opening to the series. The two mysteries – Victorian conspiracy and Jack’s departure – are filled with humour, intrigue and regret – and, at least this week, are not remotely bland.

Cast: James Bolam  Jack Halford, Amanda Redman Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman, Alun Armstrong Brian Lane, Dennis Waterman Gerry Standing, Anthony Calf DAC Strickland, Tim McInnerny Stephen Fisher 

Upcoming episodes:

  • 3 Sept: Old School Ties – The team re-investigate a teacher’s disappearance. Guest Susannah Harker
  • 10 Sept: Queen & Country – A cover-up and a suspected suicide

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Garrow’s Law DVD series 1 & 2

DVD: ★★★★½
Extras: ★★★★½

As series three of Garrow’s Law comes to a finish on BBC1 – following a tearful episode three in which Alun Armstrong’s solicitor John Southouse died – along comes the boxset featuring the complete series one and two.

These fact-based stories from the late 18th-century records of the Old Bailey, exploring the courtroom exploits of maverick barrister William Garrow, have been consistently entertaining and fascinating, throwing a light on a crude and barbaric era of British justice.

Garrow – forgotten hero
The murder of slaves, homosexuality, infanticide, treason – the early dramas have shown viewers the chilling treatment dished out at the Bailey, which basically acted as a clearing house for the rich and powerful against the poor and disenfranchised.

Along came pioneering barrister Garrow, a neglected hero from the archives until series co-creator Tony Marchant spotted his potential for this series. Here was a man who, like Atticus Finch, Horace Rumpole or Perry Mason, stood up for the underdog. The difference being that in Garrow’s day, the system was heavily tilted against defence counsel.

Andrew Buchan’s co-stars
Garrow, played by Andrew Buchan with the quiet fortitude once the speciality of James Stewart or Gregory Peck, defended the poor and desperate that other barristers turned their noses up at. Moreover, he established the right of defence lawyers to argue the case for defendants and cross-examine prosecution witnesses. Until then, whatever flimsy cross-examination was done came from the judge or jurors.  

Buchan’s co-stars have fleshed out the series wonderfully, with Lyndsey Marshal sympathetic as Lady Sarah Hill, Rupert Graves horrid as her husband Sir Arthur, Aidan McArdle slippery as the prosecutor, and Michael Culkin as Judge Buller having a face straight out of a Hogarth print.

Garrow’s Law documentary
The boxset introduces Garrow as an idealistic young barrister, has the barrister fighting a pistol duel with Sylvester and sees him in the dock himself, accused by Sir Arthur of ‘criminal conversation’ (or sex, in modern parlance) with Lady Sarah, all interwoven with intriguing courtroom battles.

Special features include Behind the Scenes of Garrow’s Law and an exclusive documentary, William Garrow: Fact and Fiction.

‘Garrow’s Law’ boxset supplied by BBCShop.com

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