Episode 1: Help
Ex-Premier League Footballer, Robbie Nichols, is beaten to death with a tyre iron on a London street one evening in what looks like a robbery gone wrong. Investigations lead DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) and DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) to everyman, Mike Jones (Lorcan Cranitch). He was seen in the area at the time of the murder, has motive and, once arrested, has his DNA matched to the murder weapon. Proclaiming his innocence, Mike points the finger at a well known East End gangster who he says he saw at the scene of the crime on the evening in question. The police are at odds as to who to believe. Trying the accused is no mean feat for Senior Crown prosecutor James Steel (Ben Daniels) who is up against the eccentric defence barrister Jason Peters (Eddie Marsan). Witness intimidation, false plea bargaining and corruption stand in the way of the truth but in the end, will the decency of one good samaritan be enough to finally put a murderer where they belong? Michael Cochrane is Judge Burchville.
Episode 2: Denial
Love, betrayal and assisted suicide are the themes of this episode when high court judge Rachel Callaghan (Juliet Stevenson) is shot in the underground car park of her apartment building, in what looks like a car robbery gone wrong. It soon becomes apparent that a hitman was hired to kill her. Despite being shot twice, the judge is left on life support in hospital with her husband (John McArdle) and daughter by her bedside. The question on everyone’s minds is who wanted the judge dead - a career criminal she’s been pursuing a case against? Or someone a little closer to home? As a woman used to putting up a fight, Judge Callaghan initially refuses to accept the doctor’s prognosis on her condition. However, as evidence begins to mount against the accused, her health slowly deteriorates and the judge decides to have the hospital stop her treatment which will bring about her death. In a poignant and tender climax, CPS Director George Castle (Bill Paterson) is torn between friendship and respecting a person’s right to die as he tries to get Rachel to accept the truth of what has happened. Diana Quick is Judge Mary Hall. Episode 3: ID
When a pregnant junior doctor is found beaten to death in the car park of the hospital where she works, the prime suspect becomes her boyfriend, Joe Nash (Matthew McNulty), who cannot provide a solid alibi for where he was at the time of the killing. Mobile phone traces put him in the right place at approximately the right time but when his therapist Daniela Renzo (Nicola Walker) provides him with an alibi for that evening, DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber)and DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) begin to suspect they are having an affair. On arrest, a more harrowing truth emerges. What initially seems like a crime of passion soon unravels into a conspiracy involving senior level government officials. Risking their careers and defying the instruction of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Crown prosecutors James Steel (Ben Daniels) and Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) must get to the bottom of this case before another life is destroyed. Episode 4: Duty of Care
When a fire at his home leads to the death of Ian Parnell - a teenager with severe disabilities - DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber)and DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) soon discover the fire was no accident. The investigation draws our cops in many different directions by a multitude of potential perpetrators capable of having started the fire including the victim himself. But the finger of blame soon points towards the last person one would have expected. Complications develop in prosecuting the defendant when Crown prosecutors James Steel (Ben Daniels) and Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) find themselves up against ‘win-at-all-costs’ defence lawyer Dominic Peck (Oliver Dimsdale) whose outrageous ego threatens the fair outcome of the trial. With Peck constantly shifting the goalposts and misinforming his client, Megan Parnell (Beatie Edney,) James finds himself acting as defence and prosecution at the same time. In an emotionally heart-rending climax, the consequences of Peck’s behaviour are brought to a crashing conclusion. Diana Quick is Judge Mary Hall. Episode 5: Shaken
The unfolding tragedy of this episode takes unexpected twists and turns as what initially looks like a cot death of 6 month old Alex Raines is later diagnosed as shaken baby syndrome leaving DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) and DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) with a murder investigation on their hands. But with many possible suspects - the neglectful mum, the absent dad, the resentful nanny or her short-tempered soldier boyfriend - who should our cops arrest? During the trial, some new evidence comes to light which casts doubt over the prosecution’s case. Pitted against the indefatigable Helena Marsden (Jemma Redgrave), the very framework of this family is pulled apart and Crown prosecutors James Steel (Ben Daniels) and Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) are forced to do some investigating of their own. The heartbreaking tragedy of what is uncovered leaves us wondering if there is more than one victim in this case. Pooky Quesnel guest stars. Episode 6: Skeletons
This explosive episode begins by the banks of the Thames with our cops searching for a missing child and, ultimately, takes us to very chilling and unexpected places. A body is found with a note reading “They Must be Destroyed” - a terrifying echo for DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) of an old case in which he was involved. Andrew Dillon (Peter McNamara) - an out and out racist - was convicted six years ago of killing three young boys with an ethnic background. With Dillon safely locked up in prison, it looks like there may be a copycat killer picking up where Dillon left off. Or could there be an alternative and more terrifying truth? Senior Crown Prosecutor, James Steel (Ben Daniels), is under intense scrutiny once it is uncovered that he not only successfully prosecuted Dillon for the killings but also that his success was by and large due to ‘selective prosecution’. Is James guilty of perverting the course of justice? Did he tamper with and bury key evidence in order to win a conviction and secure a promotion? Could it be a career ending mistake for James Steel? Tobias Menzies is Sam Cain, the prosecutor brought in to challenge James.
Now firmly established in its own right, Law & Order UK
’s fourth series arrives on DVD, and continues to build on the franchise’s winning formula. The approach to the UK version remains the same, in that the show’s makers have based the six episodes of series four on scripts that previously formed part of the American show. But said scripts have then been adapted and worked to fit a more British-centric show, with some skill.
It works, too. Law & Order UK maintains the guts of what makes the franchise so popular, but manages to put a welcome UK spin on it. So the source stories are not literal transplants: they’re worked into a show with a tone and feel of its own. What helps, too, is that the casting works. There were some eyebrows raised when it was announced that Bradley Walsh had been cast in the show, but he’s proven to be a real success. As, too, have the likes of Jamie Bamber, Freema Agyeman and Harriet Walter.
The six episodes of series four, then, cover the likes of an infant death, the death of a Premiership footballer, and the murder of a pregnant woman. There are a few surprises along the way, and the quality of drama throughout is suitably strong, and inevitably, both the law and order sides are brought heavily into play.
It’s really enjoyable telly, this. It’s well made, and worth seeking out. In short, Law & Order UK continues to impress. Long may that continue. We suspect it might. --Jon Foster