The fact that John Thaw was able to make his eponymous character in Kavanagh QC
stand out as a unique personality distinct from the superficially similar Inspector Morse says much about his understated skills as an actor. Thaw brought his trademark mixture of curmudgeonly belligerence and gruff sensitivity to Kavanagh, but the barrister--who first appeared on our screens in 1995 while the Oxford detective was still alive and kicking--is no polished-up Morse. He is far worldlier, is married and has a family. And although he is often troubled by his cases, he is never afraid to play the system. He knows that there are devious, even superficial lawyers, some of them in his own chambers, who he must face across the courtroom, but he acknowledges them as an unavoidable aspect of the world in which he works.
The plots are often convoluted, but Kavanagh's wielding of the trusty sword of truth is always irresistible, particularly when the case involves some kind of high-level government aberration. "The End of Law" is a case in point; a particularly nasty tale about an unexceptional businessman framed for a murder which covers up an unpleasant security scandal. It's dark and dirty and full of troubling compromises. In the end, as with most of his cases, Kavanagh's craggy features convey a subtle hint of the sourness which comes with his chosen territory. --Piers Ford
The entire third series of the television drama starring John Thaw as Kavanagh QC, one of the country's leading criminal advocates in London, who has worked his way up from a northern working class background. In 'Mute of Malice', brothers Miles and Edgar Beddoes (Anthony Calf and Andrew Woodall) each attempt to make their way in civilian life after military service in Bosnia. Edgar becomes a University chaplain, while Miles takes a job in industry, only to find himself accused of embezzlement. When Miles is shot on a weekend away with his sibling, Edgar is accused of the crime. Kavanagh has problems defending him, however, as Edgar is either unable or unwilling to speak. In 'Blood Money', surgeon Hilary Jameson (Josette Simon) finds herself being prosecuted by Kavanagh for negligence when a computer tycoon she has operated on dies after surgery. The tycoon's widow, Sarah (Sheila Hancock), is desperate for justice, but Kavanagh becomes distracted from the case when his own son fails his A-levels. In 'Ancient History', Kavanagh begins to question the truth when he defends family doctor Alexander Beck (Frederick Treves) against charges of having carried out war crimes. Fifty years on from Dachau, the court hears from one witness that Beck experimented on human bodies, freezing them to the point of death before reviving them. Yet another witness swears that Beck was a humanitarian who saved her life. Who is telling the truth? In 'Diplomatic Baggage', Kavanagh experiences dark wranglings in the corridors of power when he defends British ambassador Sir Alan Jackson's (Michael Feast) daughter, Natasha (Lena Headey), on a charge of murdering a journalist. Although Natasha is found guilty, Kavanagh obtains some information from her father that could take the case to the Court of Appeal. However, Kavanagh has more trouble on the home front when his son moves into a squat. In 'The Ties That Bind', Kavanagh is approached by his old friend Paddy Spence (Frank Grimes) to take on a private prosecution for murder. Initially reluctant, Kavanagh is swayed when he learns how the victim was brutally tortured before being killed, but soon discovers that he has many obstacles to overcome before the truth can come out. Meanwhile, Jeremy Aldermarten (Nicholas Jones) has a rough time when he is proposed for membership at the exclusive Beerbohm club. 'In God We Trust' sees Kavanagh agreeing to help out when his former colleague Julia Piper, now married and living in America, asks him to assist with the appeal of convicted murderer William Dupree (Leon Herbert). Kavanagh flies out to the States and discovers that, while Dupree received scant defence first time round, the current governor, Cotton (Bruce Boa), is determined that he should receive a death sentence.