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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Criminal Justice



    Last Updated: 12:01am BST 28/06/2008



    Criminal Justice is a gripping new drama series on every day this week. Serena Davies talks to the stars.



    Every day this week, beginning tomorrow, BBC1 is running a five-part drama serial called Criminal Justice. The title is a play on words. It refers to the criminal justice system: the set of rules our society has invented through which to identify and penalise those thought to have broken the law. But it also refers to the justice of criminals: the punishments, and occasional kindnesses, that those incarcerated see fit to mete out to each other while in the ugly confines of jail.



    �The twist in this show,� says Pete Postlethwaite, one of its stars, �is how strangely the two hierarchies mirror each other. And it asks the question, is it the criminals running the justice system or is the justice system running the criminals?�



    The set-up makes for gripping television. Writer and former lawyer Peter Moffat (who created Kavanagh QC and wrote the acclaimed Hawking) has created a thriller that achieves the rare double of being both plausible and nerve-shreddingly exciting at the same time. Its young lead Ben Whishaw (whose dazzling 2004 Hamlet, at the age of 23, made the front pages of The Daily Telegraph) describes the effect on him when the show was still no more than a script: �I had to take a break between reading each episode to get my breath back and calm down...�



    The story revolves around Whishaw�s character, Ben Coulter, and a night of what Whishaw describes as �minor events� that spiral out of control. On a whim, Ben, a carefree 21-year-old, borrows his cabbie dad�s black taxi one night. While he�s parked, a girl gets in, thinking the taxi is in service. She�s footloose and keen for adventure, he quite fancies her, and they end up in bed together back at her place. Hours later Ben wakes up in the kitchen, returns to the bedroom to find her dead � and suddenly he�s the prime suspect in a murder investigation.



    �Ben is really a kind of everyman figure,� says Whishaw. �It seemed to me he could be any one of us. He�s young and open � an innocent.� Being honest and well-intentioned are qualities, however, that count for little in the circumstances in which he finds himself. As the Kafka-esque forces of the justice system close in on Ben, everyone, from the police to the lawyers to the prison guards, appears to be a hypocrite. It�s a situation that�s reflected by the subterfuge and constant double dealing of prison life itself.



    The jail scenes are perhaps the most compelling part of Criminal Justice, thanks in part to the advice of lifer and sometime Guardian columnist on the prison experience Erwin James, who visited the set.

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    Dominating the scenes are electrifying turns from Postlethwaite, as the weird old-timer Hooch, and David Harewood, as the psychopath who runs the place from the inside, Freddy Graham. The pair indicate the calibre of talent Peter Moffat and directors Otto Bathurst and Luke Watson have attracted. Among those joining them are Lindsay Duncan as a cynical lawyer, Con O�Neill as a seedy solicitor and Bill Paterson as a flawed detective inspector.



    Postlethwaite himself may be best known as the star of films such as Brassed Off, but he filmed his Criminal Justice role shortly before taking on King Lear on the stage (at the Liverpool Everyman, from October). And the actor believes that there are comparisons to be made between Lear and Hooch. �The big thing that informs my choice of roles is the complexity of the characters,� he says. �King Lear or Hooch, they are both fascinating human beings. They are not logical, not linear. They don�t start from point A and go to point X. They deviate and do all sorts of stuff you don�t expect � whether they�re written by Pete Moffat or Will Shakespeare.�



    The other characters in the drama also refuse to be pigeon-holed. No one is a goodie or baddie. Says Paterson of his part, Harry Box: �As far as I was concerned at the start my character was going on a crusade [for justice]. But it turns out he was much more duplicitous.�



    But the importance, ultimately, of an intelligent piece of drama such as Criminal Justice is not in providing answers, but in throwing up questions. �TV is one of the best ways of giving people something to discuss,� says Postlethwaite. �There can be all the reports you like but people don�t read them. They might well, however, watch a five-part serial and think, �Is prison like that?�; �Is the criminal justice system like that?� And I think that discussion is a very valuable one to have.�

    # Criminal Justice starts on BBC1 on Monday at 9.00pm

  2. #2
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    Did anybody else watch the first episode of this?

    I found it well-written and well-acted and I look forward to seeing how it pans out over the week.



    It's just a pity that it was half an hour late starting while we had to wait for a couple of blokes in shorts to finish whacking a ball about first - I hope that doesn't happen every night because I could lose interest.

    They've got BBC2 for that rubbish...........



    DS x.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Thought it was very good. They've balanced it out well between looking at the justice system and a suspect in a personal nightmare sandwiched between a delightfully dodgy solicitor and a questionable detective. Tonight Pete Postlethwaite should enter the story.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK homeguard's Avatar
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    Wasn't Ben Wishaw the rather creepy Private in the film "The Trench". First class drama, and I'm looking forward to each successive episode as much as I used to for "Waking the Dead". This is our film industry.

    The only crticism I have is the activity within the prison. We have quite a few prison officers from four large prisons as customers in our shop. Whenever one of these dramas comes on they laugh it off as too Americanised to be true. I suppose it has to be, otherwise the plot lines would be too boring. If conditions were as tough as they make them out in this and other prison movies, I should think that would be a first class deterrant for potential criminals - particularly young ones. But a gripping drama whatever the reality.

    Regards,

    HG

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    name='homeguard']If conditions were as tough as they make them out in this and other prison movies, I should think that would be a first class deterrant for potential criminals - particularly young ones. But a gripping drama whatever the reality.

    Regards,

    HG


    I'd imagine much prison life with the current over-crowding is 18 hours locked up, which probably wouldn't make riveting television. The drugs aspect seems credible as drug abuse does appear to be rife behind bars. I've no idea how true to life it is but a suspected sex offender must be some danger as many are separated from 'ordinary' prisoners.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: UK homeguard's Avatar
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    name='DB7']I'd imagine much prison life with the current over-crowding is 18 hours locked up, which probably wouldn't make riveting television. The drugs aspect seems credible as drug abuse does appear to be rife behind bars. I've no idea how true to life it is but a suspected sex offender must be some danger as many are separated from 'ordinary' prisoners.


    Rule 43 it's called. In fact I think the character was offered it when he arrived but decided to stay in the main prison wing. Silly young man, after all, he's only officially on remand at the moment.

    Can't wait for tonight's episode.

    Regards,

    HG

  7. #7
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    name='homeguard']Rule 43 it's called. In fact I think the character was offered it when he arrived but decided to stay in the main prison wing. Silly young man, after all, he's only officially on remand at the moment.

    Can't wait for tonight's episode.

    Regards,

    HG
    I think the officer called it 'colours' - but my hearing isn't what it used to be.



    Even though I love this type of drama, some scenes were extremely tough for me to watch last night - and then I realised that I was watching it as a Mum!



    I'm also looking forward to tonight's instalment.



    DS x.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK Windthrop's Avatar
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    name='Dame Starry']Did anybody else watch the first episode of this?

    I found it well-written and well-acted and I look forward to seeing how it pans out over the week.



    It's just a pity that it was half an hour late starting while we had to wait for a couple of blokes in shorts to finish whacking a ball about first - I hope that doesn't happen every night because I could lose interest.

    They've got BBC2 for that rubbish...........



    DS x.




    Well said - I set the HDD for it and if I hadn't been in I would have missed half of it.



    Very well done and genuinely nightmarish. I was worried it would outstay its welcome, but it hasn't.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: UK homeguard's Avatar
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    name='Dame Starry']I think the officer called it 'colours' - but my hearing isn't what it used to be.



    Even though I love this type of drama, some scenes were extremely tough for me to watch last night - and then I realised that I was watching it as a Mum!



    I'm also looking forward to tonight's instalment.



    DS x.


    Same thing, but new prison slang. Actually, checking on my Rule 43 I find that has been changed to Rule 45. I should keep up.

    An excellent account of prison life, and preparing for it, is on the web. For those interested in the reality, it is:



    Preparing for Prison (Do or Die), are usually segregated for their own safety under Prison Rule 45 (formerly 43). They should not be confused with prisoners held in the block (the ...

    Preparing for Prison (Do or Die)




    Only 25mins to go.

    Regards,

    HG

  10. #10
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    Did anyone else spot the Continuity Cock-Up in tonight's episode?

    Ben's solicitor made him change shirts with him so that Ben was wearing a white shirt to go into court with. That meant that the solicitor changed into Ben's dark blue one.

    When they got into court, supposedly a few minutes later, they were BOTH wearing white shirts; I'm sure I didn't imagine it.



    I'm still enjoying it though.



    DS x.

  11. #11
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    name='Dame Starry']

    When they got into court, supposedly a few minutes later, they were BOTH wearing white shirts; I'm sure I didn't imagine it.




    Maybe there was another white shirt in the cell...



    Was very good tonight and it does keep the tension up by allowing Ben's plight to take one step forward, quickly followed by another step back.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: UK homeguard's Avatar
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    Are they going to push the credibility over the edge by increasing the cruelty in the prison though? I was looking forward to the next stage being a clever courtroom story, not an improbable ratcheting up of abuse by the prison 'lord'.

    Perhaps the drugs will unlock the mystery of the events leading up to the girl's death, otherwise it just turns into gratuitous violence.

    Doesn't look like I'll get the hedge cut tomorrow either.



    Regards,

    HG

  13. #13
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    name='DB7']Maybe there was another white shirt in the cell...
    It was 'bugging' me, so I've just checked it on the i-Player and at 9:48 minutes in, the solicitor (Con O'Neill) is wearing the dark blue shirt, a jacket and doing his tie up just before going into the courtroom.



    I'm not convinced that an 'old school' detective with the years of experience that Box has would have removed Ben's inhaler from the crime scene though....it'll be interesting to see how that character evolves.

  14. #14
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    I don't generally go for drama stretched out to this length but this is worth it.



    I like the balance between the prison scenes and the court scenes. Bill Paterson always earns his pay. The only bit that doesn't ring true is the Con O'Neil solicitor. Would anybody in the legal profession actually attend court as unshaven as that, and wearing sandals !

  15. #15
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    name='Tony Pendrey']The only bit that doesn't ring true is the Con O'Neil solicitor. Would anybody in the legal profession actually attend court as unshaven as that, and wearing sandals !
    As Ben is now being represented by a barrister, there isn't any need for his solicitor to be in court at all - he's there just as an observer I believe, so I doubt that it matters what he wears.

    My thoughts were - hasn't he got any other clients?!



    DS x.

  16. #16
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    name='Tony Pendrey']Would anybody in the legal profession actually attend court as unshaven as that, and wearing sandals !


    Mine looks like Baldrick in a suit. It's a constant source of amusement but he's far better than the Man at C&A type I used previously.

  17. #17
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    A colleague and I once escorted a patient for a court appearance. I got all togged up but my colleague turned up in jeans and a tee-shirt, unshaven and looking like he's just crawled out of bed. The judge refused to hear the case until this chap had left the court. When he laughed, the judge fined him �250 for contempt! He nearly lost his job as well!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: UK homeguard's Avatar
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    The backlash has started. That's what is so annoying about programmes like these that purport to show the reality of the more hidden systems of our society. Most of us have to accept that what we see as 'background' is about right. Waking the Dead lost me when they completely botched the military protocol on an episode, even getting the soldiers to salute while not wearing head-dress - unforgivable! When I moaned at them they said they were employing some sort of 'production licence' where it wouldn't affect the plot line. Crap. They just didn't bother to check their facts.

    Anyway, I had a prison officer in today from HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes. They're jumping up and down over the scenes that show the behaviour of the prison officers in a totally negative light. Picked out for special mention was the scene where our boy was assaulted and covered in grass. Couldn't happen he said. When I asked why, he told me they would never have got that much grass on the 'landing'.

    Yes, at the mention of grass, I too began to wonder.

    Can't wait for tonight's do. I predict that the drugs are important for the recall of our heroe's actions.



    Regards,

    HG

  19. #19
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    name='homeguard']Anyway, I had a prison officer in today from HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes. They're jumping up and down over the scenes that show the behaviour of the prison officers in a totally negative light. Picked out for special mention was the scene where our boy was assaulted and covered in grass. Couldn't happen he said. When I asked why, he told me they would never have got that much grass on the 'landing'.

    Yes, at the mention of grass, I too began to wonder.Regards, HG
    My late father was a Prison Officer.

    That was in the days when they were properly and fully trained, were employed by the Home Office and had a fair wage (at the time) with subsidised housing provided.

    They 'cold-turkeyed' new remand prisoners, visitors were searched thoroughly so that no drugs were brought in and there was respect both ways.

    Now officers just need 5 GCSEs to work for contractors who pay them a pittance and they have to provide their own housing.

    Of course, a lot of these stories about life inside prisons are related to us by ex-offenders - but they certainly give me 'food for thought'.



    Meanwhile, back to the programme, the plot thickens. Is our Ben as innocent as we think?

    It looks like there is going to be a big twist to this - I only hope, after watching it all week, that it doesn't fizzle out like a damp squib!



    I do hope that Ben Whishaw had a flu jab before he started filming - he seems to spend most of the time with his clothes off!



    DS x.

  20. #20
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    name='Dame Starry'] Is our Ben as innocent as we think?
    I think so otherwise the character's credibility would fall apart. I did think that he may be innocent, but to give it a twist the show might end with him going down.

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