The Trial: Lawyers react to new docudrama starring real QCs and an ex-Old Bailey judge

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By Thomas Connelly on

‘First major inaccuracy, it started on time’

John Ryder QC and junior barrister Lucy Organ

The legal Twitteratti was out in force yesterday evening as Channel 4’s new docudrama starring real lawyers hit television screens.

The Trial: A Murder in the Family — a five-part series which concludes on Thursday — focuses on the fictitious murder of a 38-year-old woman named Carla Davis, who was strangled in her own home. Her estranged husband, Simon Davis, has been charged with her murder.

With actors drafted in to play the defendant, the victim and various witnesses, producers — keen to get as close to a real trial as possible — recruited a host of top legal minds to fill other key roles.

Lawyers making their drama debuts last night included Red Lion Chambers’ Max Hill QC, 6KBW College Hill’s John Ryder QC and ex-Old Bailey judge Brian Barker CBE QC.

To add an additional element of realism, the jurors — whose deliberations are filmed via a Big Brother-style network of cameras — are 12 members of the public.

But what did lawyers make of episode one?

Tom Gilbart, an employment barrister at Manchester’s Nine St John Street Chambers, suggested producers should have adjourned the first episode and not paid the actors to ensure accuracy.

Echoing Gilbart’s sentiments, Rupert Jones — a barrister at Citadel Chambers — felt the trial’s prompt start wasn’t a true reflection of real court life.

Hopefully producers will have included at least one technology failure in the forthcoming episodes, said 36 Bedford Row barrister Rebecca Herbert.

Well at least we haven’t see a gavel… yet.

However other lawyers were more forthcoming in their praise for the show. Matthew Scott, a criminal specialist at London’s Pump Court, took to his blog last night to write:

Judging by the first episode The Trial is television at its best: dramatic, informative and compelling viewing. It’s just a shame about all the ad-breaks.

Episode two airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4. You can watch episode one on catch-up here.

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