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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Tony Marchant has looked into cases and documents of the time to give us this fantastic new series, producing something along the lines of the Casualty 1909 type programmes and City of Vice. The legendary William Garrow is here played by Andrew Buchan, and his mentor Southouse by Alun Armstrong. William Garow may not been known by many today, but when people talk about the fairness of British law then we have Garrow to thank. In a time where trials were quickly over and many were wrongly convicted Garrow set about and in ten years achieved to change the face of our justice system for ever. By questionning prosecution witnesses and putting his clients' cases forcefully forward people who would once have been convicted were being acquitted.

Garrow gave us the adversarial system also used in the US and in other countries since, banishing the old type inquisitorial system. By winning numerous cases Garrow gave us the system still in use today and thus helped to promote human rights. The cases in this series will have you wondering how anyone managed to be acquitted before he came along. With rewards paid for hangings it was all to easy to manufacture evidence against people so that a bounty could be gained (remember this was the eighteenth century, where the thief taker was still in sway). With no professional modern police force in existence prosecutions were privately brought affairs and open to abuse. Some may find this series quite harrowing, especially when in the first episode alone we are held by our fingertips to find out if a poor young maid will be hanged for the death of her baby.

All in all this is a great series which will make people think more about the law and our history, a must see.
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VINE VOICEon 18 November 2009
This fantastic new BBC series is based on the life and work of Sir William Garrow PC (1760 - 1840. He was one of the most influential barristers who became Solicitor General, Attorney General, finally a judge on his appointment as a Baron of the Exchequer and a PC. Through his work at the Old Bailey, where he raised cross-examination to an art, he became a properly the most famous lawyer of his time and changed the legal work profoundly. He started when
counsel rarely appeared for teh accused and, coulnd not address the jury. One could hardly speak of a fair trial. Particualry bad was the institution of thief-takers - ever so often innocent people were accused of crimes just for these thief takers to obtain the "reward". Garrow established the adversarial trial.

Legal history can be very boring - I know what I am speaking of as I am a lawyer. But the BBC presents with this great series which brings legal life int eh 18th century and its fundamental flaws to life. That does not appeal to lawyers only. It shows how important fair trial is and how easily anyone can get into the machinery of justice. It is a constant struggle. Ever so often the general public is willing to condem people just because they are accused -then and still now. So this is even a lesson even for today!

The three main charactres - Andrew Buchan, Alun Armstrong and Lyndsey Marshal - are just wonderful. I have to say that I particualy enjoy the performance by Alun Armstrong.

The BBC is just wonderful in these kind of productions. 5 stars for sure, I just wish I could give more.
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on 1 November 2009
I have just watched the first episode of this new series , As a period drama based on fact from Archives of the period .This is is a remarkable series ..Its costume and attension to detail of the period is sceond to none ..The writing is extraordinary ..And gives the whole period of this time from detail the appauling miscarriges of justice to innocent victims ,and the need from change ..Since this was just the first episode , i cannot coment on the rest of the series ..But i must say a welcome and Brilliant start an otherwise exellent Landmark series
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on 5 December 2009
This is a really informative, well acted series. Dissapointingly short at only 4 episodes but so well recieved that the BBc cannot fail to make a second series. If you want to know the history of Garrow read the other reviews, I just want to say that its a great costume drama, fantastic attention to detail and Andrew Buchan is as always an outstanding actor (he does these uncomfortable stiff and reserved characters to perfectionyou want to see more of him in costume check out his St John Rivers in Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre (BBC) [2007] [DVD] [2006If ] or for the scary but strangly sexy hitman John Mercer in the FixerThe Fixer - Series 1 [DVD] [2008].(This series is unmissable!!!!)
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on 19 September 2010
This BBC dramatisation of a crucial piece of British legal history makes compelling viewing while being remarkably true to facts. The cinematography and staging recreate the poorly lit courtroom to perfection. The attention to detail is unparallelled as always in a BBC production: Even the braziers burning herbs to neutralise the bad smells emanating from Newgate prison next door have not been overlooked. The casting is fantastic too. The young -and probably attractive - William Garrow is portrayed very convincingly by Andrew Buchan while Alun Armstrong's rather scruffy Mr Southouse conveys the right combination of kindness and shrewd pragmatism. The legal and personal conflicts in the story cleverly intertwine, thus keeping the viewer riveted -and wishing for a second series.
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on 12 May 2014
When Garrow's Law first came out, I was hooked. Now years later, I sat through it all again and was still enthralled. A brilliant well acted series; and the fact that it was based on a true story made it all the more fascinating. I would watch it again and would most certainly recommend it to anyone who, like me, loves period drama...............
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on 2 July 2016
We really enjoyed this series and are contemplating buying the next one. I'll watch anything with Alun Armstrong in it but it was well cast throughout and Andrew Buchan gave a good performance. It was pretty faithful to law, courts, punishment etc in the relevant era so good marks for realism.
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on 7 December 2015
Loved this series when we watched it originally and it hasn't lost any of its spark on second viewing. More interesting because there was actually a Judge Garrow.
Amazingly accurate in its historical content and the scenery and costumes take your breath away.
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on 29 March 2011
This Series is an exemplary drama and one which is a must see by all.I must commend the BBC for having the courage to place a most worthy gentleman of note in this Historical manner. This is a time -an era when the people of Europe wish to see an overdue change in their slave like existance.In this period of Revolution- French and our Colonies in America, little is shown as regards the Common Man in the United Kingdom at this most Pre- emptive time and era. Certainly we know of Wellington, the Peninsular Wars and the French Revolution. This series shows just how backward the legal system was in the United Kingdom in fact just how Barbaric our system and our 'Betters' were. Truly until William Garrow fought for the rights of man in the courts and proved that some might just be innocent and not all guilty of the crimes charged against them. How many of you know that a 12 year old could be hung for the theft of bread or similar. The slavery aspects are todays popular Flag however the common man in this his own country of Great Britain was little more than a slave and that transportation or Hanging for trivial offences were the NORM. This series is not only an education it is one of the most entertaining and well acted dramas I have seen, and most certainly will prick your emotions. Garrow fought a hard lonely battle taking public abuse orchestrated by the High Powers wishing for no change, and saw Garrow as a threat -how dare he give the common folk ideas above their station - suggesting they are innocent in court- as though it should matter that one innocent here or there is hanged. ' My the very thought that these people should be defended in court -is nothing short of Treason! -That is why this Drama should be seen - and more made of Garrow. The BBC deserves praise for this TV Series and encouraged to make more of them. A True Classic!
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So vows lawyer William Garrow, an increasing thorn in the flesh of Georgian England's Establishment. He insists on a proper defence for those in the dock. Hitherto there had been no one to plead their cause, many innocent thus summarily despatched to jail or the gallows.

Tony Marchant wrote the scripts - very powerful they are too, often based on actual cases. The result is an awesome, atmospheric eye-opener to the conditions of the times - the trials then virtually a spectator sport, everything weighted towards securing a conviction, juries reaching verdicts within moments in full view of all around.

Andrew Buchan shines as the one so determined to see justice. Alun Armstrong is superb as the attorney steering cases his way. Acting throughout impresses. The trials themselves (Garrow not always to succeed) come over strongly - rather more so than Garrow's growing relationship with Lady Sarah.

Hotheaded and intemperate Garrow may have been, but one warms enormously to one fearlessly prepared to make many enemies on high to ensure a fair hearing for even the humblest of England's subjects.

Four hour long episodes. An interesting 20 minute "Behind the Scenes" bonus feature.

Quality fare - wholeheartedly recommended.
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