Eccleston plays a man light years from his Doctor Who incarnation.
Willy is a
plumber who doesn't have all the answers, isn't flamboyantly
resourceful and is
behaving rather badly. At the same time, Accused
is light years from your run-of-the-mill TV crime series.
by Cracker creator Jimmy McGovern,
the first story joins Willy as his life is spiralling out of control.
is intense and believable as an ordinary guy who wants to leave his
‘firmer flesh’, but can’t because his
daughter has just announced that she is
to marry her well-off boyfriend.
his plan is to pay for the wedding, as pride demands, and then leave Carmel, the unsuspecting wife who
still loves him (played movingly by Pooky Quesnel).
he finds himself in a corner. Expecting several thousand pounds from a
of plumbing jobs he’s done for a builder, Willy learns the
firm has gone bust.
His behaviour becoming more erratic and desperate, he then sees his
change when he finds a Jiffy bag containing £20,000 in the
back of a mini cab.
the money and run, or hand it in to the driver? Though he does finally
do the right thing, Willy’s actions have huge consequences
for himself, his
family and others.
who enjoyed Jimmy McGovern’s powerful stories for The Street on the Beeb last year will
drink in this new series of
six crime dramas. These are strong human stories that demand we make up
minds about the characters’ actions, rather than spelling out
a glib moral.
Accused shows us ordinary people
who find themselves facing a jury and expects us to decide whether they
be punished. In Willy’s Story,
Eccleston’s character is no paragon of virtue, but his fate
makes us think.
spells out his approach to Accused
like this – ‘In the time it takes to climb the
steps of the court we tell the
story of how the accused came to be there. We see the crime and we see
punishment. Nothing else.
police procedure, thanks very much, no coppers striding along corridors
coats flapping. Just crime and punishment – the two things
that matter most in
any crime drama.’
has the makings of being an absorbing series. And if anyone doubts the
of McGovern’s work, remember that Britain’ top actors clearly
speaking his lines.
up in Accused are Mackenzie Crook,
Juliet Stevenson, Peter Capaldi, Andy Serkis, Marc Warren, Naomie
week sees another outstanding but unusual crime series in the
schedules. Garrow’s Law
is back for series two,
last year’s opening season having won a Royal Television
those who missed it, these dramas are drawn from the Old
transcripts that have revealed the brilliance of obscure 18-century
they’re the best courtroom drama seen on TV for years. The
stories are a time-machine
tour of a period when the Old Bailey was a chaotic last stop for the
disadvantaged on the way to an often ghastly, brutal and unfair
Garrow and the
art of cross-examination
was partly because defence lawyers were too stuck up to do a decent job
unfortunates dragged to court, often by dodgy thief takers and bounty
The judge or sometimes even the jury would question prosecution
m’lud often summing-up the defence case.
stepped Garrow, the man who spoke daringly for the accused and played a
part in perfecting the art of cross-examining their accusers.
Buchan returns as the man who ruffled many legal and political feathers
his single-minded devotion to a fair hearing. He’s got a
tangled and shocking
case in the opening story in this new series, one you feel must have
straight from a Horrible Histories publication.
captain of a cargo ship called the Zong
throws 133 African slave men, women and children overboard in
circumstances. Of course, the incident lands him in court –
not for murder, but
because the insurance company feels the captain fiddled his claim.
is appalled, but as his mentor, John Southouse, reminds him, slaves are
and cannot provoke a murder charge. The barrister manages to introduce
slave, Gustavus Vassa (played by Danny Sapani), into proceedings, to
the court, in an attempt to get at the truth.
and Lyndsey Marshal
Lady Sarah Hill returns to London with her infant. Her
husband, Sir Arthur, is consumed with jealousy at the thought that the
might be Garrow’s and sets out to ruin her and, with the help
of his highly
placed political friends, Garrow as well.
Armstrong as Southouse, Lyndsey Marshal as Lady Sarah and Rupert Graves
Arthur are all great to watch here. But the real magic is in the
these extraordinary tales from the Old Bailey.