Tonight sees the return of the BBC’s acclaimed legal drama inspired by the life of pioneering eighteenth century barrister William Garrow. The stars of the show discuss its third series.
The RTS award-winning drama sees a return of the barrister to the Old Bailey to champion the rights of prisoners against the powers of the State. Andrew Buchan of The Fixer fame plays the lead role of William Garrow, he’s looking forward to the third instalment of the drama,
“The cases are fascinating.” He says, continuing, “They are written very honestly and accurately, and are, dramatically speaking, very challenging to perform. They’re also very powerful in the sense that each case resonates today. The first one looks at madness and how it was defined in legal terms in that day and age. The third case looks at the case of General Picton, Governor of Trinidad, who devised specific methods of torture, almost as a sport, for his own general amusement and entertainment. There was a sickening brutality to all of his methods, and he was eventually brought to trial for them. All of the cases have been shocking and captivating and we’ve been very spoilt with the guest actors we’ve had. They really bring the cases to life.”
Guest stars for series three include Lark Rise to Candleford actress Olivia Grant who plays Lady Henrietta, Sir Arthur Hill’s mistress, Derek Riddell from Five Days who plays silk maker Matthew Bambridge, Mistresses star Patrick Baladi plays General Picton, and Cal Macaninch of Downton Abbey appears as police constable, Richard Lucas.
Garrow was wrongly convicted of ‘criminal conversation’ – a euphemism for having sex with another man’s wife – at the end of the last series. The third series sees Garrow at last free to live with the love of his life, Lady Sarah Hill, but her private agony is the absence of Samuel, her young son, being maliciously kept from her by her ex-husband, Sir Arthur Hill.
Co-star Alun Armstrong of New Tricks fame plays attorney John Southouse, who says on the previous storyline, “It’s been a big scandal, fraternizing with this woman, even though he hadn’t. So we’re up against it as a twosome, and we are battling to get back up and working. But with Garrow being so idealistic, he’ll only take cases that interest him, even though he really needs the money. So in a funny sort of way, Sarah’s come in and usurped my colleague. It wasn’t like that when he was my apprentice and mucker. So Southouse is kind of resentful of Sarah.” Armstrong says.
“Southouse is quite conservative in his views on morality, and how to conduct one’s self in society. He thinks Garrow is far too racy and always putting himself in danger, stepping off the beaten track. Being radical is fine in court, but he doesn’t want him to be like this in his real life because he feels responsible for him. He’s a kind of mentor and surrogate father. He likes Sarah but he thinks she’s brought untold trouble. It would have been much easier if Garrow had found a girl who wasn’t married!” He adds.
The cost to her of Samuel’s absence – and the cost to Garrow of her attempts to get him back – will test their relationship to the limit. Meanwhile Southouse’s nephew turns up in unexpected circumstances in later episodes and provides both challenge and consolation to Garrow.
“Sarah and William are now living together in an ‘irregular relationship.’ The ‘criminal conversation’ charge in the previous series has left William with very little money and they are living in a small two room flat.” says Lyndsey Marshal best known for her role in Rome, who plays Lady Sarah Hill. She continues, “What I love is that it would be so easy for their story line to have a ‘love conquers all’ happy ending but you see the true reality of their situation play out. These are two people from entirely different classes, and this in itself brings many challenges. Sarah also brings a lot of baggage from her previous marriage to their relationship. They have very little money and they are still being shunned from society and perceived as scandalous due to their irregular relationship. Sarah’s main battle in this series is fighting to attain access to her son Samuel.”
As the French Revolution turns Europe upside down, new philosophies, new passions and new demands sweep through England. Attempted regicide, industrial sabotage, colonial brutality, police intimidation and election rigging are all on trial as the establishment battle to retain their grip on the status quo. William Garrow and British law are sure to be severely tested.
For Garrow actor Andrew Buchan the struggle will however mainly be for his character’s personal and professional life, “Enormous challenges at work to get his reputation back, to put food on the table, to keep a home. And whilst he’s in court, Sarah enters into a custody battle with Sir Arthur to win Samuel back, without Garrow’s knowledge. Alongside the huge emotional tug of war, neither of them can afford the legal costs.”
And of course any modern day drama that has a ‘couple’ within are bound to have some intimate scenes. “Yes! They are together now, and they do the things that couples do; be it laughing, crying, household chores, or a bit of how’s your Father!” adds Buchan, continuing, “Love scenes at the best of times can be pretty damn strange because there are about fifteen random people in the room watching you, so it’s usually the most un-sexual thing you can do. Lyndsey is a friend so it was slightly strange, but at the same time we trusted each other. And luckily the director handled the whole thing with a great deal of sensitivity.”
Lyndsey Marshal agrees, “I can honestly say it’s one of the happiest jobs I’ve had the fortune to be a part of. You can’t really cast chemistry, and you can only hope you get on as a cast, but I think Peter Lydon, the director of series one, has amassed a seriously top notch cast. I have learnt so much from Alun, Rupert, Andy and Aiden over the years. It feels like I’m in the premier league when I’m on set with them! You really have to up your game. And we’re all so fond of each other. We film on location in Glasgow and Edinburgh so we all have dinner together every night; we’re a proper little family. I always get so upset when we finish filming. I miss them all so much. I don’t miss the whisky hangovers though!”
And with a high profile show, its bound to get the cast noticed, “Well New Tricks has got to be the biggest because it’s been all over the world. I can hardly go anywhere without people knowing who I am. It’s very restricting (laughs). But there was a nice time after we had done the first series of Garrow’s Law that someone came up to me and said; “Ah my learned friend.” Says Alun Armstrong
With a lavish production comes costumes, are viewers in for an array of fabric pleasures,
“Only one new dress this year! And a plain housedress at that. The little Sir Arthur has allowed Sarah of her possessions; she has had to sell for money though I still have my hats thank God!” says Marshal, “We decided to go for a more stripped back look for Sarah this year. And I think the make-up and costumes reflect that perfectly. The team at Cosprop have done such a wonderful job over the years creating Sarah’s wardrobe. I never get over how special it feels to have something made for you. Though I realise when I put my own clothes on just how ill fitting they all are! The clothes for women in that time are a lot more flattering to the female figure.” She adds.
“Garrow certainly can’t afford anything different because he’s hard up.” Buchan adds, “But I think Silvester – played by Aidan McArdle – has stepped up his game – he’s enjoying a little promotion maybe. It is good actually because I’ve only just come to terms with how to fasten everything. Any new clothes and I’d have to consult the dressing manual all over again.” He concludes.
Garrows Law returns tonight at 9pm on BBC One and BBC One HD