De Niro To Star In BBC Remake


In a move certain to dismay fans of fresh, original television drama, American network HBO have announced the casting of a 70-year old actor who has not boasted a creditable starring role in nearly 20 years to appear in a remake of a 5-year old BBC drama so forgettable that even those involved in the original have little memory of it.

Criminal Justice – whose very title was surely the result of an office game of ‘Legal Drama Bingo’ – originally ran for two series on BBC One beginning in 2008. According to the BBC News website it involved “each episode tracking an individual murder case on trial with a different cast”. Which it didn’t – it was two self-contained five-episode series focusing on the same story broadcast over consecutive nights but if they don’t remember it’s hard to imagine why anyone else should care.

The remake was set to star James Gandolfini who appeared in the HBO pilot at the start of this year but was unable to commit to a series due to being dead. He will, however, stay on as Executive Producer. (No, we don’t know either.)

De Niro – whose acting range currently stretches from ‘bemused but genial uncle at family wedding’ all the way to ‘irate father on the verge of writing a strongly-worded letter to the council’ – will step into the role Gandolfini was due to take and which was described as being that of ‘an over-ambitious ambulance-chasing defence lawyer’. Rumours that the character will also be described as ‘on the edge’ or a ‘loose canon’ are unconfirmed at time of writing.

This is great news for the producers of the drama – including Gandolfini, who must be delighted despite not being alive– as the pilot was rejected for further production at February of this year. HBO dramatically changed it’s mind and decided to go ahead with series this May. The decision is thought to be in no way linked to the fact that Gandolfini stopped being alive quite close to this date – HBO are quite clear about this.

De Niro has not commented, but The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle star is thought to be excited about a return to television following his successful appearance as ‘Robert De Nero’ on Sesame Street and really not much else. .

Criminal Justice will also feature Four Lions actor Riz Ahmed as the defendant so viewers can expect lots of wearyingly ham-fisted post-9/11 chin-stroking as De Niro gazes into the middle-distance and contemplates the nature of race and assumed guilt.

The series is due to go into production in March next year and will doubtless be repeated here on Channel 5 to such an endless degree that viewers will be crying-out for an episode of the little-seen CSI just to break things up a bit.

You have been warned.