Have You Been Watching.. The Jury?

THE JURY: Tuesday 8th November and every evening this week, ITV1, 9pm

There was a time when ITV dramas where about as challenging as your average episode of Peppa Pig, but after heavy investment recently, we’ve seen some real gems that have captivated audiences and made Heartbeat repeats a long distant memory.

On the back of Appropriate Adult, Downton Abbey and a host of other fine programmes, The Jury stars Julie Walters as a barrister defending a man who’s being being retried after being convicted of murder five years before. Peter Morgan (The Deal, The Queen) might be revisiting old ground on a personal level, but from formulaic beginnings, this miniseries is growing nicely. In the court-room firebrand, national treasure Julie Walters has also found another fine role here. We suppose she gets the pick and choose to her heart’s content these days.

At this stage everyone involved believes the suspect is guilty (so no prizes for guessing where the whole thing’s going) and his retrial is a controversial decision, as the radios in the background continually inform us. Strangely there is no extra evidence, DNA or otherwise and Walters builds her case purely on the fact that nobody actually witnessed the murders, even though the suspect is seen with the each of the victims moments before their gruesome deaths. Presumably we can expect a few more twists in the tale before the end and plenty more answers to some interesting little side-plots. For instance, what is that bloke doing at the tanning shop?

On screen the various jury members shuffle uncomfortably, as witness after witness is bamboozled by the direct questioning from the sharp QC played by Walters. But all of these jurors have real problems of their own. One (particularly unconvincing) young woman is illegally standing in for her boss, there’s a teacher who has fallen pregnant by one of her pupils, another is discussing the case with a juror from the original trial and one is even writing letters to the accused. If Peter Morgan is asking us whether we thing trial by jury is outdated, then this lot are certainly no great adverts for it as a system of justice.

If as a nation we can’t find twelve reputable citizens to uphold the rule of law, then perhaps we should leave it to the professionals to deicide our fate in the dock. With digital media swamping us at an ever increasing rate, not breaching court rules as a juror isn’t as easy as it once was and the jurors here seem to be on trial almost as much as the defendant. Are you enjoying the series?