Sunday, February 19, 2012

TV Crush: Garrow's Law

Here I am, back from a long hiatus with a new post about one of the best shows I've seen in ages. 

I discovered Garrow's Law while reading Madame Guillotine and it instantly struck my fancy. Naturally, a show that combines two of my great passions - 18th century history and court drama - could not do otherwise.

Garrow's Law is a BBC period drama about an 18th-century lawyer, William Garrow, who was a real historical figure, though slightly less impressive than his fictional counterpart, and was involved in reforming the advocacy system of the corrupt and socially unjust Georgian England. The episodes are based on real legal cases from the time, but the series, naturally, takes some liberties with historical facts and conventions, yet it makes up for it with excellent writing and wonderful characters.

Garrow is played by Andrew Buchan, whom we all know and love as Jem Hearne from Cranfrod. 

Alun Armstrong (Aristocrats, Little Dorrit) plays Garrow's mentor, John Southouse. Lady Sarah, Garrow's love interest, is Lyndsey Marshal (HBO's Rome). Lady Sarah's husband, politician and all round unpleasant guy, Sir Arthur Hill, is played by Rupert Graves (Sherlock). And, finally, the role of Silvester, Garrow's court nemesis, is taken by Aidan McArdle (The Duchess, Ella Enchanted).

The show only had three season, which is a real shame. I would have loved to see more of Garrow and his team tackling some legal problems of a time period which wasn't high on social justice.  

Interesting Fact: Judge Buller (played by Michael Culkin) became infamous for allegedly creating the so-called rule of thumb, which stated that a husband could beat his wife as long as the stick was no bigger than his thumb. However, there is no proof that such rule ever existed in English common law. And equally doubtful is whether Judge Buller ever made this statement in court.

Interesting Fact: Garrow did, in fact, have an 'irregular' relationship with woman named Sarah, though she was not Lady Sarah. Her real name was Sarah Dore. She had previously had a child with Arthur Hill, Viscount Fairford. Some sources seem to say that she was his wife, others that she was his mistress. Nonetheless, she began a relationship with Garrow and had two children with him.  

Watch a wonderful documentary about the real William Garrow here.

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