Garrow’s Law Review: Short But Sweet

GARROW’S LAW: Sunday 13th November, BBC1, 9pm

You could be forgiven for thinking that Master Yoda (of shrunken, wrinkly Star Wars fame) penned the script for this 18th century courtroom drama. “What mean you?â€?, enquire several members of the cast in pretty outrageous, broken Georgian English.

But despite its accidental comic scripting, alot of be-wigged characters stomping down stone corridors plus plenty of courtroom raucousness made for a soild Sunday night drama.

With Downton Abbey: Reloaded drawing to a close last weekend, period drama addicts will need something strong to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. For my money, Garrow’s Law is a worthy replacement. And Garrow is something of a hero.

If you have missed out on previous series of GL then last night’s inaugural episode of series three would have been your first encounter with William Garrow (Andrew Buchan); the caped crusader of the Georgian justice system. Based on the life of a pioneering barrister, the programme explores genuine cases from the career of Garrow who routinely fought for the underdog in a horrendously unjust system.

First on the hit list for Garrow and trusty advisor Alun Armstrong, was defending a “mad manâ€? by fighting for a change in the law’s view of madness. No mean feat when the defendant tried to pop a cap in the King’s ass in front of a full theatre of spectators.

All this takes place against a backdrop of fear as officials worry that lowlier members of society have caught a whiff of the French Revolution. Another fairly uninteresting domestic plotline rumbles on alongside the case, but makes for dull viewing compared to the thrill of the court proceedings.

The action bubbles along nicely and does not succumb to lengthy speeches of righteousness by our heroic lead (as you might expect for a BBC drama extolling the virtues of a pioneer for social equality). After a brief encounter with some drooling inmates of the local asylum, Garrow draws some swift conclusions about his line of defence and swoops in to save the day without much hesitation. It may not be the most realistic legal drama ever written but it’s great fun. But why only four episodes in this woefully short series?