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GARROW'S LAW: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION
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Legal drama ripped from the pages of history “[4stars]” —Scripps Howard News Service “Courtroom drama gold” —The Sunday Times(U.K.) “Period drama at its very best” —British Heritage magazine As seen on PBS Andrew Buchan (The Sinking of the Laconia, Cranford) stars as William Garrow, a revolutionary legal mind determined to defend the downtrodden in 18th-century England. Based on a true story, these three complete series follow Garrow as he advocates for prisoners’ rights and pioneers the idea of innocent until proven guilty, aided by his mentor (Alun Armstrong, New Tricks) and the lovely Lady Sarah Hill (Lyndsey Marshal, Being Human). As he tackles divisive cases, Garrow runs afoul of some of England’s most powerful and notorious figures, including bounty hunters, judges, and a ruthless MP, Sir Arthur Hill (Rupert Graves, Sherlock, The Forsyte Saga). Drawn from actual Old Bailey court records, Garrow’s Law is a fascinating peek inside the evolution of the modern legal system, filled with “excitement, tension, passion, humor, and drama” (The Guardian, U.K.).
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Garrow is not as widely known as he deserves. Whilst this series covers the earlier part of his career when he was a barrister, he was also a Kings Counsel prosecuting cases, although he appears here as the defending counsel. Latterly he became a politician, rising to the post of Solicitor General and confirmed his forward thinking by, amongst other credentials, supporting animal rights which was quite a departure in the first part of the 19th century. This was a time when human rights were fairly generally ignored! The cases which are included in this series are interesting and varied and if you google the details of any of them, you will be able to verify that they were actual cases at the Old Bailey. Here Garrow is the champion of the accused and it is an interesting fact that he originated the phrase 'innocent until proved guilty'. He is also credited with originating the adversarial system of justice, in use in most Western countries with forthright cross examination of witnesses.
Garrow's rather complicated personal life is also based on what happened in real life. He had a long term relationship and later married Sarah, who had previously had a relationship with a Viscount. The script writer has had to fill in the gaps, however, the significant facts which can be checked out are correct. Hence this series portrays both the working life and personal life of a highly significant historical figure in an authentic manner. Andrew Buchan puts in an impressive performance in the leading role, but mention should also be made of Alun Armstrong who is very convincing as John Southouse.
It was always a valid criticism of Garrows Law that the series were so short, comprising just four episodes in each. Therefore this DVD set contains just 12 episodes, four from each of the three series. Brief though it is, it provides a fascinating insight into the workings of the UK justice system in the early 19th Century, with the added interest that it is largely based on fact.
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.
The characters in these three series are great, and knowing it's based on real-life makes it even better. Charlotte Edgar, an extra, speaks in bonus feature #3: "I've been looking at some of the cases in the Old Bailey archives. For the 1st series, it was interesting to see, thre was an exchange between a thief-taker and Garrow. And I noticed that in the actual shoot, the lines were pretty much the same."
She's talking about the website,
If you'd like do a little fun perusing of the kind of cases William Garrow handled, check it out. It's 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 occurred 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
In spite of its popularity (in England and the U.S.), "Garrow's Law" was officially axed in 2012. In the Complete Collection you get 12 episodes and Bonus Extras which carry forward from the three individual series DVD releases.
1. "Behind-The-Scenes" (19 min, originally appeared on Series 1 DVD)
2. "William Garrow: Fact and Fiction" (22 min, originally appeared on Series 2 DVD)
3. "Garrow's Law: From Dawn to Dusk" (19 min, originally on season 3 DVD) This follows the cast and crew on one day of shooting.
4. Photo Galleries (every series)
5. Biography of William Garrow (originally appeared on series 1 DVD),
6. Cast Filmographies (every series)