"Garrow's Law" is so interesting. It boggles the mind when you watch the cases (especially in the first series) and think, wait a minute, they can't do that! - when, of course, they can, because there was no adversarial judicial system as we are used to. And because being part of the nobility, even a small part, used to make you immune. Each episode stars a new case, and all of them are based on real cases tried in England during the time period.
The characters are great, and knowing it's based on real-life makes it even better. But it is the scripts and cases that keep me coming back for more.
The reasons given for axing "Garrow's Law" don't seem adequate to a fan. See the RadioTimes on-line article I copied at the end of this review. But, alas, Series 3 is the last we'll see of William Garrow, played with stubborn high-mindedness by Andrew Buchan. Garrow (the real Garrow) was called to the Bar in 1783, and made his name as counsel for the defence (Brit for defense) - the period we see in the TV show. In 1793, though, he did rise to become a King's prosecutor, and was eventually knighted.
If you'd like do a little fun perusing of the kind of cases William Garrow handled, check out
This is an online listing of cases heard in the Old Bailey between 1674 and 1913. It doesn't always give a lot of detail. Sometimes, though, an entry includes a full transcript, questions and answers, the older ones in "old English". These include transcripts of actual William Garrow court appearances. I found the following entry for a court case involving Sir William, which occured years after those shown in the TV series:
LAWRENCE HALLORAN , alias LAWRENCE HYNES HALLORAN , alias WILLIAM CHARLES GREGORY , was indicted for that he, after the 1st of July, 1802, to wit, on the 9th of January, in the 57th year of his Majesty's reign , feloniously did forge and counterfeit the hand-writing of a certain person, to wit, Sir William Garrow , Knt. , the said Sir William Garrow, then being a member of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and being entitled to send letters by the post to places within the said United Kingdom, free from the duty of postage, in the superscription of a letter to be sent, and which was afterwards sent, by the post, to wit, from London to Broseley, in the county of Salop, in order to avoid the payment of the duty of postage upon and in respect of the said letter, against the statute .
ELEVEN OTHER COUNTS, varying the manner of laying the charge.
To which indictment the prisoner pleaded
GUILTY . Aged 53.
Transported for Seven Years .
First Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Baron Graham
Here's the February 6, 2012. RadioTimes on-line article, by Jack Seale, giving the bad news:
Garrow's Law has been axed by BBC1, the channel has confirmed.
The drama, co-created by Tony Marchant, centred on real 18th-century lawyer William Garrow (Andrew Buchan), whose daring acceptance of unfashionable or controversial cases helped to liberalise the legal system.
Garrow's Law had seemed to be a continuing success: at the end of 2011 it had more than four million regular viewers on Sunday nights, despite being up against the likes of The X Factor and I'm a Celebrity... on ITV1.
"BBC1 will screen more than 20 new dramas this year, but Garrow's Law will not be returning," confirmed a spokeswoman for the channel - and the decision not to renew Garrow's Law underlines BBC1's commitment to new drama under controller Danny Cohen.
Cohen has already chopped popular existing dramas, such as Zen and Lark Rise to Candleford, to make way for new series - a strategy that is arguably working well at the moment in the form of the ratings-busting Call the Midwife. With Garrow's Law having already run for three series, and with the series three finale serving as a viable swansong for the programme as a whole, it was perhaps an obvious target for Cohen's axe.
In any case, like Lark Rise - axed primarily because its writer, Bill Gallagher, no longer wished to continue with it - Garrow's Law is perhaps a casualty of how in-demand its main writer is. Tony Marchant has already written Public Enemies for BBC1 this year and has been commissioned to pen Leaving for ITV1. He also has plans to revive and update his 1997 breakthrough, Holding On, the state-of-the-nation drama about disparate characters living in London.