Monday, 23 February 2009, 9:00PM on ITV1

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime, and the Crown Prosecution Service who prosecute the offenders.

The cream of British acting talent is brought together in an ensemble cast of extraordinary breadth to star in Law and Order: UK.

The new series for ITV1 is based on the enormously successful U.S. format created by two time Emmy award-winning producer Dick Wolf. It will be co-produced by Kudos Film and Television, Wolf Films and NBC Universal.

Bradley Walsh (Torn, Coronation Street) is DS Ronnie Brooks, a real East End, copper’s copper, friend and partner to the charming DS Matt Devlin, Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica, The Last Detective, Ultimate Force) whose approach to policing is part seduction part force. Both report to DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter The Young Victoria, Atonement, Sense and Sensibility) a working mum who would back them to the end.

While the CPS team comprises Ben Daniels (The Passion, The State Within, Cutting It) as dedicated Senior Crown Prosecutor James Steel, a man on a mission for justice; Freema Agyeman (Dr Who, Torchwood, Little Dorrit) as hard working, strong-willed young prosecutor Alesha Phillips; and Bill Paterson (Little Dorrit, Criminal Justice, Sea of Souls) as their respected boss CPS director George Castle, a man trying to balance his ideals with the bigger picture.

The brainchild of creator Dick Wolf, Law & Order is the most successful brand in primetime U.S. television. It was the 1997 Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Drama Series and the record holder for the most consecutive (11) nominations for a drama series. It has also turned into one of TV entertainment’s most pre-eminent brands, with its successful spin-offs Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Dick Wolf says: “The ‘Law & Order’ brand continues to be very successful in France and Russia, and it has always been my dream to be able to produce a foreign version of the series in the UK. The creative team at Kudos and ITV has done a spectacular job of bringing my vision to life and I have every hope that Law & Order: UK will be a critical and commercial success.”

Lead writer Chris Chibnall was charged with the task of finding the right stories to adapt for a British audience. He explains: “I was looking for stories that I connected with emotionally, that had great opportunities for characterisation, and that felt relevant to Britain today. I watched about 150 episodes of the US Law & Order. Dick Wolf sent over a list of his favourite episodes and I watched all of seasons one to six, plus a number of episodes from seasons seven, eight and nine. It’s a very addictive show so it’s great to be getting paid to sit and watch them.”

Talking of the difficulties in adapting a US series for the UK, Chris says: “We are vigilant about being faithful to the Law & Order format, while also making sure that it feels fresh, modern and British as well. The stories have got to stand up strong in their own right, so you’re constantly making sure that the characters are interesting and original and are rooted in this country. There is always a balancing act between making sure the stories are authentic from a legal perspective but also that they are dramatic. We sometimes had the issue of legal procedure which is different between the two countries. You had to be constantly vigilant, while honoring the source material and making sure the drama is as exciting as it can be for a British audience.”

“I’m thrilled by the roster of guest stars we have throughout the series. The US “mothership” Law & Order has a history of attracting extraordinary talent for guest parts and we’ve worked hard to carry on that tradition. Because every story is self-contained, each episode has a number of juicy guest appearances, which means a new treat for the audience week after week. Whether it’s opposition barristers sparring with Ben Daniels, or witnesses, suspects and relatives facing a quizzing from Bradley Walsh and Jamie Bamber, we’ve been lucky enough to have so many great British actors guesting across the series”.

Guests stars across the series include Dervla Kirwan, Holly Aird, Iain Glen, Lesley Manville, Patrick Malahide, Colin Salmon, Juliet Aubrey, Sean Pertwee, Frances Barber, Cyril Nri, Derek Riddell and Keith Barron.

Law and Order: UK will be produced by Richard Stokes (Torchwood, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries), the executive producers are Jane Featherstone (Spooks, Ashes to Ashes), Andrew Woodhead (The Fixer, Spooks) and Stephen Garrett (Burn Up) for Kudos, Dick Wolf for Wolf Films and Angela Bromstad for NBCU. The lead writer is Chris Chibnall, who counts highly successful series such as Life On Mars and Torchwood amongst his prestigious credits, and who is also executive producer.

Episode One : Care

When the evacuation of a central London hospital leads to the discovery of a tragic death, DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) investigate. The trail leads them to Kings Cross, where the redevelopment and gentrification of the area is affecting a number of local residents. But has this led someone to commit murder? Could the seemingly vulnerable single mother Dionne Farrah (Venetia Campbell) or her sister Leona be involved? Are caretaker Daniel Matoukou (Babou Ceesay) or local resident Mike Turner (Tony Maudsley) connected to events surrounding the death? And how has the case affected landlady Maureen Walters (Lorraine Ashbourne)? As DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) pressurises Matt and Ronnie to untangle the case, a disturbing pattern emerges…

When a suspect is arrested, Crown Prosecutors James Steel (Ben Daniels) and Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) face an uphill struggle convincing the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, London, George Castle (Bill Paterson) that their case is strong enough. Complicating matters further is their sharp-suited, mercury-minded opponent Robert Ridley QC (Patrick Malahide). Devious and without the burden of principles, Ridley uses every trick in the book to get his client off. With an Old Bailey trial on the verge of collapse, and pressure increasing from their boss, James and Alesha must team up with Matt and Ronnie to gain enough evidence, get the better of Robert Ridley QC and convict the person responsible for this emotionally-charged death.

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