Garrow's Law: Tales from the Old Bailey ended it's four part run on BBC 1 on Sunday, so with m'lud's permission, I'd like to offer my verdict and say I loved it.
Garrow's Law has been a delight to brighten these dark November nights and many others feel the same, judging by the buzz on the web and elsewhere. Please, BBC, commission a second series! It's been a long time since I have been as enthralled by TV programme as I was by Garrow's Law.
Well done to everyone involved in bringing it to the screen - great script, fabulous performances, high production values, engrossing storylines = quality entertainment. Perfect.
For those who were watching
William Garrow was born in Uxbridge, Middlesex in 1760. He was articled at the age of 15 to an attorney, John Southouse of
Garrow was considered common and ignorant by his rivals because of his unorthodox entry into the law (he had not been to Oxford). He also had the insecurity of his lower middle class background to contend with. He was, however, a gifted and driven maverick and enjoyed immediate success when called to the Bar, his exploits in court soon catching the attention of the press. Over the following decade, Garrow, acting for the defence in the vast majority of cases, championed the underdog and raised the rigorous cross-examination of prosecution witnesses to an art form that paved the way for the modern adversarial system as practised in the United Kingdom and its former colonies, including the US. He pioneered the right to be presumed innocent until convicted by a jury beyond reasonable doubt.
Garrow later became King’s Counsel, Solicitor-General, Attorney-General, Judge and an MP, but the series concentrates on his early, trailblazing years at the Old Bailey.
By all accounts, Garrow’s private life was as extraordinary as his professional life and we get tantalising glimpses of the burgeoning romance between William and Sarah Hill (played by the captivating Lyndsey Marshal), the wife of prominent MP Sir Arthur Hill (Rupert Graves). There is also the father-son relationship between Southouse and Garrow, beautifully observed by the always excellent Alun Armstrong and Andrew Buchan.
Ah yes, Andrew Buchan – he gives a wonderful performance as Garrow, a seething mass of aggression, arrogance, quick temper, insecurities, incredible intellect and insight, righteous indignation, eloquence, pride and passion. I’ve seen Andy in other roles, including Party Animals, Cranford and more recently as hitman John Mercer in ITV’s great drama The Fixer.
It speaks volumes for his talent that he can tackle two such diverse roles and make them entirely his own. And any bloke who can deliver smouldering looks while wearing a wig, hair extensions and heels deserves massive kudos *g* It’s not giving any spoilers to say that the glass of water moment in episode 4 of Garrow’s Law is my TV highlight of 2009 ;0)
It's astonishing to think that few people have ever heard of William Garrow, including those in the legal profession. This series should redress that. I hope it wins plenty of awards – it certainly deserves to. For his achievements, Garrow deserves his place in history, his place in the nation’s consciousness and perhaps a place on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar square. Despite the historical setting and occasionally arcane language, Garrow’s Law feels curiously pertinent to today. It serves as a reminder that the rights and legal system we enjoy now had to be fought for and should never be taken for granted.
Garrow’s Law: Tales from the Old Bailey, stars Andrew Buchan as William Garrow, Alun Armstrong as John Southouse, Lyndsey Marshal as Lady Sarah Hill, Rupert Graves as Sir Arthur Hill, Aidan McArdle as John Silvester and Michael Culkin as Judge Buller.
So what are you waiting for? :-D For those in the
If you want to find out more, here are some useful links:
Sir William Garrow: His Life, Times and Fight for Justice by John Hosstetler and Richard Braby (a descendant of Garrow) with a foreword by Geoffrey Robertson QC - published by Waterside Press on 30th November 2009.
BBC Promo for Garrow's Law on YouTube...
No news yet on Edmund Butt’s fabulous soundtrack being issued but fingers crossed the BBC realize they are onto a winner with Garrow’s Law and make it available alongside the DVD.
(all photos copyright BBC and ITV)