Garrow’s Law — Killer TV No 30

GARROWS-LAW-TALES-FROM-TH-006

BBC, 2009-2012

‘You cannot insult your way to an acquittal!’ John Southouse

‘…The life of Elizabeth Jarvis is at stake, in solemn and polished injustice. I must be a ruffian to get at the truth.’ – William Garrow

Andrew Buchan, Alun Armstrong, Lyndsey Marshal, Rupert Graves, Aidan McArdle, Michael Culkin

Identikit: Legal drama based on the life and pioneering legal career of 18th-century Old Bailey barrister William Garrow.


logosAN INSPIRED idea – to use the forgotten trials of a radical Old Bailey lawyer during the late 1800s (based on digitised trial transcripts at Old Bailey Online) – gave us a fascinating and at times heartrending drama. William Garrow was a genuine maverick, 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, except that Garrow really existed. One of the fascinations of this series is that in Garrow’s day the system was heavily tilted against defence counsel. Garrow, played by Andrew Buchan with the quiet fortitude that was once the speciality of James Stewart, defended the poor and desperate at whom other barristers turned up their noses. 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. The legal murder of slaves, infanticide, industrial sabotage, rape, homosexuality – Garrow challenged the barbaric contemporary attitudes to these and other issues. The BB228005-GARROW-27S-LAW-IIsubplot of Garrow’s affair with Lady Sarah Hill is heavily fictionalised, but it is the extraordinary legal brutalities of the age, and Garrow’s brilliant victories that helped to liberalise English courtrooms, that stick in the mind. Garrow’s Law ran for three series and was doing well in its primetime slot on Sunday nights – being watched by more than four million viewers when up against the likes of The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity…  – when it abruptly came to an end. Whether this was down to new-broom BBC TV boss Danny Cohen (who notoriously also axed Zen in its early days) or because Tony Marchant didn’t want to write it any more was not clear, but Garrow’s Law was a riveting drama and is sorely missed.
Classic episode: Series 2’s opener dealt with the extraordinary case of 133 slaves thrown overboard from a slave ship when drinking water ran low. Murder was not the charge because the slaves were considered cargo, but the case reached court because of a dispute with the insurance company, which did not want to pay out for the ‘cargo’. Garrow manages, nevertheless, to turn the trial into an indictment of the slave trade.
Watercooler fact: In a murder trial Garrow once questioned a witness who later became extraordinarily famous – Horatio Nelson. Garrow asked whether the accused – who served under Nelson and whom Nelson said was ‘struck with the sun’ and acknowledged that he had himself been ‘out of his senses’ with a ‘hurt brain’ on occasion – was likely to have committed murder. Nelson replied, ‘I should as soon suspect myself, because I am hasty, he is not.’ The case was not featured directly in the series, though the issue of insanity was used in the series 3 opener about John Hadfield, who was accused of attempting to assassinate King George III.

[http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017gcq9#supporting-content

http://www.garrowsociety.org/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00w5c2w

Broadchurch 2, ITV, David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker PREVIEW

Spot the new faces in the line-up for Broadchurch 2. Pics: ITV

Rating: ???

ITV: starts Monday, 5 January, 9pm

Story: Probably another crime in the seaside town of Broadchurch, investigated by Alex Hardy and Ellie Miller…

OMG, this is so exciting. Broadchurch 2 is so amazing they won’t let anyone see it!

What happens next is so thrilling they don’t trust the media to view it without incontinently blabbing

JODIE WHITTAKER as Beth Latimer, CHARLOTTE BEAUMONT as Chloe Latimer and ANDREW BUCHAN as Mark Latimer Broadchurch 2
How will the Latimers fit into Broadchurch 2?

all the show’s secrets on social media within seconds of the end credits.

For the first time in my experience of working in TV publications going back a decade or two, there will be no previews of the opening episode or any that follow.

Is this a slight overreaction? When the first series launched in 2013 ITV courted publicity and reviews, and the series was a huge success, reaching audiences of nine million and winning four Baftas, two Royal Television Society awards and an international Peabody gong. Was the series spoiled by the huge level of coverage the media devoted it?

Broadchurch secrecy

All of Broadchurch‘s success was deserved. But now that Doctor Who levels of secrecy have descended on series two, it suggests the makers are perhaps putting too much stress on the drama’s twists and surprises. Broadchurch wouldn’t have won its audience if it had simply been viewed to find out whodunit.

New character beside the seaside – Sharon (Marianne Jean-Baptiste)

It was also about the quality of the acting and production and the emotional impact of the storytelling.

Writer/creator Chris Chibnall says: ‘We’re doing this because we loved how audiences connected with, and responded to, Broadchurch the first time round. We know we’ll never replicate the way the first series took hold but nonetheless we’re doing our best to ensure our story goes unrevealed, and the audience can remain unspoilered, until it’s broadcast on ITV. We’d like everyone to see the pieces fall into place (and they will) when you watch episode one on that Monday night. And for people to find out – as much as possible – together, at the same time.

‘That’s not such a crazy idea, is it?’

New faces: Charlotte Rampling and Marianne Jean-Baptiste

We can at least reveal that the familiar faces – David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Andrew Buchan, Jodie Whittaker – are joined by new characters played by Charlotte Rampling, Eve Myles, James D’Arcy and Marianne Jean-Baptiste, with the latter commenting on the show’s secrecy: ‘All I’d say is you

ARTHUR DARVILL as Rev Paul Coates in Broadchurch 2
Will the Rev Coates feature more prominently this time?

think you know what you know but you don’t know anything…’

There’s no denying it will be interesting to see how Chris Chibnall breathes life into a story that reached such a shattering climax. The show was filmed during last summer in West Bay, Dorset, with Tennant and Colman recreating their characters, detectives Alex Hardy and Ellie Miller.

But after the last series, which focused on the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer, Hardy’s health and career were shattered and Miller discovered her husband Joe was the murderer.

David Tennant: ‘Clever and exciting bit of writing’

Let’s leave the last scintilla of a clue to the new series to David Tennant: ‘It’s a very different type of story. I think we all found it hard to predict where Chris (Chibnall) was going to go and how he was

DAVID TENNANT as D.I Alec Hardy and OLIVIA COLMAN as D.S Ellie Miller Broadchurch 2
In deep again: Miller and Hardy

going to tell a story faithful to season one without underselling the veracity of it. It would have been ludicrous and a bit disappointing to discover another body on the beach and begin another eight episodes of whodunnit… he absolutely doesn’t do that. Tonally it’s the same show but structurally it is completely different.

‘This is a really clever and exciting bit of writing, still a thriller but not the same type. Without giving anything away, it is almost impossible to describe, but by the first commercial break people will be enthralled.’

Cast: David Tennant Alec Hardy, Olivia Colman Ellie Miller, Jodie Whittaker Beth Latimer, Andrew Buchan Mark Latimer, Charlotte Rampling Jocelyn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste Sharon,

Arthur Darvill Rev Paul Coates, Eve Myles Claire,  James D’Arcy Lee, Carolyn Pickles Maggie Radcliffe, Jonathan Bailey Olly Stevens, Tanya Franks Lucy Stevens

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The Honourable Woman, BBC1, Maggie Gyllenhaal

MAGGIE GYLLENHALL is THE HONOURABLE WOMAN (Nessa Stein) on BBC2
It’s a dangerous road for The Honourable Woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★½

BBC2: starts Thursday, 3 July, 9pm

Story: Nessa Stein’s father was a Zionist arms procurer. As children, she and her brother Ephra witness his assassination. Later, as an adult, inheriting her father’s company, she inverts its purpose from supplying arms to laying broadband cable networks between Israel and the West Bank – a decision that makes her many powerful enemies…

THE SHADOW LINE was not as big a hit as Broadchurch or Happy Valley, but the BBC2 cop thriller from producer/writer/director Hugo Blick was one of the most distinctive and stunning crime series of 2012.

It has been a tantalising wait to see what he would come up with next, particularly when a stellar cast was announced for his follow-up, The Honourable Woman, with names such as Maggie Gyllenhaal, Andrew Buchan, Stephen Rea, Katharine Parkinson and more.

Well, the eight-parter is now just a few weeks away, and I can confirm that it’s another superb intrigue from Blick, though different from The Shadow Line.

Maggie Gyllenhall as Nessa

Maggie Gyllenhall, with a very good Brit accent for her first TV project, is Nessa Stein, who has inherited her assassinated Israeli father’s business. Where he dealt in guns, Nessa embarks on a more ethical approach to business, installing broadband cable to Palestinians and Israelis.

Nessa Stein (MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL) The Honourable Woman BBC
Nessa is the enigma at the centre of the thriller

This desire to build connectivity and understanding is worthy, but it generates for Nessa a hornets’ nest of enemies and deadly dealings. To start, when she selects a Palestinian businessman to take on the next phase of the project, he commits suicide on the day she announces the deal.

Suspicious? Well, the Israeli she had previously worked with is enraged, the British secret service suspect Mossad of murder, while the Metropolitan police, the FBI and US military also stick their various oars in.

Hugo Blick’s the master of TV suspense

The first episode pulls off the feat of being hard to follow but gripping at the same time. And once again Blick proves inspired at creating a disorientating, threatening mood that draws you in.

By episode two, the story is easier to follow but still full of mystery and danger. Blick is the master of the set piece moments, and here there is a terrific sequence in which an FBI agent is not sure if she has been betrayed and has to go on the run. The writer/director loves telling the story visually, played out with music or a voiceover.

Blick also clearly relishes writing roles for Stephen Rea, who was breathtaking as the menacing Gatehouse in The Shadow Line. He steals the show again, this time as the soon-to-be-sacked spy Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle.

Lindsay Duncan and Janet McTeer

If he’s not delivering killer lines – ‘Haven’t seen anything like that since David Nixon and Ali Bongo’ – he’s pursing his lips and raising a dubious eyebrow. His scenes with Lindsay Duncan (who plays his ex-wife) and Janet McTeer (boss and ex-lover) are lip-smackingly delicious.

While The Shadow Line also had many scenes that had to be relished and was hugely entertaining, it stretched a little too far by the end.

The Honourable Woman is just as riveting, but with its interplay between several fascinating women – particularly Nessa and the nanny Atika, who were once kidnapped together and are haunted by it – and its tangled plot, it will be interesting to see if Blick’s latest drama will be resolved with more cohesion.

Either way, it is a further sign that we’re being spoiled by a glut of excellent TV dramas right now, no doubt fuelled by The Killing, Breaking Bad and other imports.

Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal Nessa Stein, Lubna Azabal Atika Halabi, Eve Best Monica Chatwin, Andrew Buchan Ephra Stein, Lindsay Duncan Anjelica Hayden-Hoyle, Janet McTeer Dame Julia Walsh, Tobias Menzies Nathaniel Bloom, Igal Naor Shlomo Zahary, Genevieve O’Reilly Frances Pirsig, Katherine Parkinson Rachel Stein, Stephen Rea Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle

See also…
The Shadow Line review
Hugo Blick interviewed by Bafta

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Broadchurch 2 – cast pictures

SO HERE is the cast for the second series of ITV’s Broadchurch in a script read-through. In a week when series one won three Baftas – best drama, best actress for Olivia Colman and best supporting actor, David Bradley – it seems there is already quite a lot of anticipation for the next instalment of what was one of 2013’s outstanding new crime dramas. Pictured here for the first time are returning cast David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan and Arthur Darvill, along with some of the actors who are joining the drama for series two including Charlotte Rampling, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Eve Myles and James D’Arcy. And this is just a few months after former Doctor Who David Tennant was in America filming the US version of the series, called Gracepoint.

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Broadchurch — great finish for the best new UK crime series

ITV's Broadchurch, starring Oskar McNamara as Danny
Oskar McNamara as Danny. Pics: ITV

Broadchurch revealed its secrets in the final episode last night and confirmed its position as the best new UK crime series since Sherlock. The Beeb, BSkyB, Channel 4 and ITV churn out dozens of murder dramas each year but none has generated the buzz that Broadchurch did.

Much of the watercooler chat was about whodunit, but Broadchurch was a much better show than those that are simply puzzles over a perpetrator’s identity, intriguing though that was. The bookies, and most of us in the audience, strongly suspected it was Joe, anyway.

Broadchurch worked so brilliantly because it learnt from the first series of The Killing and was a seering exploration of a crime and its painful fallout for a community – ambitions way above most TV crime fare. Central to the whole story was the Latimers and the heartbreak and confused loss they were suffering. Hats off to writer and creator Chris Chibnall (United, Law & Order: UK) for devising such a rich, compelling drama.

Olivia Colman, David Tennant in Broadchurch, ITV
Olivia Colman and David Tennant

Olivia Colman was superb throughout, but really went above the call of duty in portraying the nightmare that befell Ellie during the finale. David Tennant was very good – as usual – as Alec, the lead detective who was by turns irritating and vulnerable. And, for my money, Andrew Buchan also stood out at times as Danny’s dad, particularly early in the series in the scene when he had to identify his son’s body.

  • Daily Telegraph final episode review
  • Guardian final episode review
  • Independent final episode review

ITV wasted no time last night in announcing that Broadchurch will be back. Which will be interesting, seeing that Alec is being invalided out of the force and Ellie will have to leave town. The story is, of course, being kept under wraps, but will go into production next year. More than nine-million viewers have been watching, so another series is not a surprise.

My guess is series two could involve Sandbrook, Alec’s previous and disastrous case.

Anyway, final word to Chris Chibnall  – ‘The whole Broadchurch team has been delighted and properly gobsmacked by the response from ITV viewers. When I first talked to Peter Fincham and Laura Mackie, ITV’s Director of Drama about Broadchurch, I mentioned that if people liked it, there was another very different story we could tell afterwards. I’m really thrilled we’re going to tell that story too.’

Here’s the extra scene from Broadchurch that was posted on Facebook last night…

• In other news, ITV also announced yesterday that there will be a fourth series of Vera. Brenda Blethyn will this summer start filming four new 120-minute stories based on the character created by crime author Ann Cleeves.

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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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Garrow’s Law series 3 with Andrew Buchan PREVIEW

Andrew Buchan as William Garrow. Pics: BBC

Rating ★★★★

BBC1 from Sunday, 13 November, 9pm 

Story: Garrow returns to the Bailey to risk his already tarnished reputation to defend James Hadfield, on trial for High Treason for attempting to assassinate King George III at the Drury Lane theatre.

The 18th-century courtroom maverick William Garrow returns to flip the wigs of the establishment with more legal derring-do in this third series based on true events from the Old Bailey archives.

Writer and co-creator Tony Marchant revisits a momentous legal battle for Garrow revolving around the attempted murder of the King one night at the theatre. James Hadfield, a former soldier, fires at the monarch in his box and is overpowered by the audience.

Garrow and Lady Sarah

Lord Melville makes it clear that the trial will be political. After some soul searching, Garrow agrees to fight an unpopular case for Hadfield but is puzzled by how to defend him. Convinced that Hadfield is insane – god has told him to sacrifice himself or everything will perish – Garrow is stuck with a law that considers him sane because he is not a permanently raving beast.

Criminal conversation – or sex with another man’s wife
It’s a juicy opener to the series, a past winner of a Royal Television Society award and again a drama that stirs our fascination and horror at the brutality and legal crudeness of merry old England.

At the end of the last series, our barrister hero was (wrongly) convicted of ‘criminal conversation’ – or having sex with another man’s wife. He is now in an ‘irregular’ relationship with Lady Sarah Hill, who is almost as deranged as Hadfield in this episode, so distressed is she at her separation from her child by evil, bitter, nasty husband Sir Arthur.

Following the scandal, Garrow and Lady Sarah are about as popular around town as George Papandreou at a Euro knees-up with Angela and Nicolas, and are struggling financially.

Madness of King George
The cast – led by Andrew Buchan as Garrow, Lyndsey Marshal as Lady Sarah and the spluttering Alun Armstrong as Garrow’s mentor Southouse – once again carry off the wigs and corsets with aplomb, skilfully transporting the viewer back to Newgate Prison, Bedlam and the Old Bailey.

Southouse, Lady Sarah and Garrow

It is in the notorious mental hospital of Bedlam, where people in the 18th century paid a penny to gawp at the mentally ill, that Garrow begins to form his defence. Here he learns that it is possible to be lucid most of the time, but still have a shaky grasp on reality. As usual, it is the law that is an ass.

This is a very delicate point for the barrister to get across, as the King himself is known to have a ‘mind that comes and goes’.

Garrow – fact and fiction
Garrow’s Law has shone a light on an unsung hero of history, and anyone interested in digging further into the facts of his life can start by checking out the Garrow Society website.

Otherwise, just sit back with a glass of port and goggle at the chilling spectacle of ye olde English law in action.

Cast: Andrew Buchan William Garrow, Alun Armstrong John Southouse, Lyndsey Marshal Lady Sarah Hill, Rupert Graves Sir Arthur Hill, Mark Letheren James Hadfield. Guest stars: Olivia Grant as Lady Henrietta, Sir Arthur’s mistress, Derek Riddell silk maker Matthew Bambridge, Patrick Baladi General picton, Cal Macaninch constable Lucas

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Garrow’s Law PREVIEW

Garrow, Lady Sarah and Southouse
(Pics: Graeme Hunter/Twenty Twenty Television)

Sunday, November 14, 9pm, BBC1


Rating ★★★★

Traditionalists who long for simpler times when the authorities really had zero tolerance for criminals must absolutely love Garrow’s Law.

The 18th century was a time when sodomy was a hanging offence and a ship’s captain could legally throw slave men, women and children overboard at sea if there wasn’t enough drinking water to go round. And, of course, most of the ‘criminals’ were what we’d today simply call poor and disadvantaged.

Series one, which first got us interested in the pioneering exploits of barrister William Garrow, was almost funny in showing us how bloody awful and iniquitous the Old Bailey was at the time. You half expected Blackadder and Baldrick to pop up every week.

Royal Television Society award
After the success of that season, inspired by the contemporary records from the Old Bailey that are now available online, and with a Royal Television Society award on the mantelpiece, co-creator Tony Marchant’s series and his starry cast are back.

And it kicks off with an extraordinary story about 133 slaves being dispatched overboard from the cargo ship The Zong. Not that the charge is mass murder, of course, but rather a legal squabble between the insurance company and the ship’s captain, whom the insurer’s think is trying to fiddle them.

As the lawyer opposing Garrow remarks, it’s a ‘case of chattels and goods, the same as horses being thrown over’. Did Captain Collingwood act so inhumanely to save the rest of the crew (after his blundering gets them lost at sea), or is there some corrupt reason for his brutality?

Andrew Buchan and Rupert Graves 
As Garrow, played once again by Andrew Buchan, the closest thing Britain has to James Stewart, searches frantically for a moral dimension to the case, his private life is in turmoil.

Lady Sarah Hill, newly returned to London with her infant son, is turned on by her jealous husband, Sir Arthur (Rupert Graves), who suspects the child might be that of her one-time admirer, Garrow. Sir Arthur and his high-ranking friends, unable to defeat Garrow in court, are determined to ruin him and Lady Sarah.

It’s a compelling mix of plotting and emotion, but the series’ magic is in the window it offers into a time when the legal process was extremely primitive. Before Garrow was re-examined in the recently posted online archives, he was obscure (not even a mention in the Oxford Companion to the Law).

Inventing the art of cross-examination
Thanks to Garrow’s Law we can glimpse this extraordinary man, years ahead of his age, outspoken and boldly anti-establishment during this phase of his career (he went on to be Attorney General and an MP).

Garrow argued for the right to put the case for defendants and virtually invented the art of cross-examining prosecution witnesses. Until then the judge or even the jury chipped in with questions. As depicted on-screen, the courtroom was chaotic, resembling a public debating chamber rather than a legal forum.

High-class lawyers were disdainful of representing the rabble dragged to court by shifty thief-takers and bounty hunters, who often gave evidence against the poor slobs they were paid to haul in.

Alun Armstrong and Lyndsey Marshal
The cast are all good, some with faces so characterful they look as though they’ve stepped out of the late 1700s (no names mentioned). Alun Armstrong is fatherly as Garrow’s mentor, Southouse, while Lyndsey Marshal manages to be strong but vulnerable as Lady Sarah.

It’s good to see this series returning. Each week’s story is dramatic and fascinating, with intrigues about the implications of being gay, about women and property, and the mistreatment of disabled sailors all to come.

If Garrow at times seems too saintly here, you still wonder what this man, so out of synch with his contemporaries, must really have been like.

Someone so dogged that he would cause uproar by calling Gustavus Vassa (actor Danny Sapani), a freed black man, to give evidence to a disbelieving court. Garrow was a man who could  really make enemies, and it’s great to watch him doing it.
• Tony Marchant has done an interesting blog about dramatising Garrow’s Law on the BBC site.

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