Before the programme, there’s the end of Bookmark, and a trailer for Visions of Britain.
Then, the third episode of the series Blind Justice, Helena Kennedy and Peter Flannery’s series about the justice system.
Seven men and women are charged with conspiracy to commit an explosion – accused of planning to fire rockets at the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, and the programme follows the legal process.
Frank Grimes plays Rauri McFadden, one of the accused, and convinced that the trial is a show trial, the charges entirely trumped up to put him and his friends in jail. As he says, what’s the legal defence against a conspiracy charge.
Robert Stephens plays his barrister Freddie Hunter, who’s firmly of the establishment, and more or less convinced his client is a hardcore terrorist, despite the lack of real evidence in this particular case. So McFadden sacks him and asks for his junior,
During all the initial interviews between the barristers and the accused, it’s unclear to the audience what the situation is. McFadden states categorically he’s innocent of the specific charge, but from his demeanour you are clearly meant to assume he’s definitely a member of the IRA. Others of the seven seem similarly unclear, like Eamonn Hand, who seems keen to stress that the two accused women had nothing to do with it, but isn’t explicitly saying that he’s innocent of all charges.
When Hand then claims he was promised the charges would be dropped, and goes on to claim he was an informer for Special Branch, it rather changes the nature of the trial. And naturally, in a case like this, an informer never gets off lightly, even if he’s acquitted.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 26th October 1988 – 21:00
Before the next episode there’s the end of The Last Vacation and an advert for the Radio Times featuring Thompson.
Then, the next episode of Blind Justice, A Death in the Family. Almost immediately, I’m slightly thrown by Richard Kane, Greg Kettle from Hot Metal, playing a Chief Constable.
This episode gets a bit more into the day to day events in the chambers of the lead characters. It’s been set up as a modern chambers, but there are money worries, complaints about salary levels and bills not being paid, and the head of chambers Frank Cartwright, played by Jack Shepherd, is also having trouble at home.
The series has a very elliptical style. It will often cut to characters in the middle of a new scene, and the viewer has to infer from the context what might have happened, rather than having characters give exposition all the time. A great example of this is the scene where Cartwright has gone to chambers, taking his eldest daughter, because she wants to see one of their clients, a famous actor. His wife has been listless and withdrawn, clearly unhappy, as they leave.
Then the daughter receives a call at the chambers, shouts for her father, and we cut to him in a hospital. My first thought was a possible suicide attempt by his wife, but the doctor explains it was a haemorrhage. Incidentally, the doctor in this scene was Janet Fielding, Tegan from Doctor Who.
There’s another strangely familiar face later on, playing a heavy looking after a star witness for a newspaper.
the chap on the left is Gypsy Dave Cooper, who might be familiar to fans of An American Werewolf In London as one of the actors in the terrible porn film they’re watching in a soho cinema the last time David and Jack meet.
The main case in the programme is a particularly appalling one. A daughter goes missing, and is then found horribly murdered. Her stepfather is immediately under suspicion. But as the story unfolds, it’s revealed that he’s guilty of some horrifying crimes, but not murder. This is a hard programme to watch.
Jane Lapotaire is particularly good as the barrister defending the stepfather, despite her revulsion at what he’s done.
Frustratingly for me, the recording stops before the jury gives their verdict. Curse you, VHS.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 2nd November 1988 – 21:00