Episode 2 - Unloved

Monday, 2 March 2009, 9:00PM on ITV1

“His quest for the truth is what will be so compelling to watch,” says Ben Daniel of his character James Steel in Law & Order: UK.

“It is justice at whatever cost for James. He is so blinkered in his quest for the truth that it even destroys his personal relationships.”

Ben explains: “James is a Senior Crown Prosecutor who has worked in the CPS for about eight years and previous to that he was a defence counsel. He was a brilliant defence counsel and got lots of people off, however one particular case coincided with the birth of his son. He had had managed to get a man off a rape charge three times in a row; that as well as his son being born made him rethink his whole life and defect to the CPS. Apparently many defence barristers end up doing that.

“It is all about guilt. You are not allowed to defend someone if you know they are guilty but I think sometimes it is quite evident they are guilty and they have to do it. It’s a cab rank principle; unless you are hired privately you don’t get to choose.”

Ben continues: “Once he changed sides, James is completely consumed by his job to the point where his wife leaves him, taking their son to live in Scotland. With his family gone there is an empty hole to fill with his work.

“James is quite absolute in the way he sees the world; it is all black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. It’s amazing for me to play such a character as the majority of people I’ve played have been very duplicitous. It’s refreshing to play a man who is a beacon of truth. I would go as far to say that James is quite a heroic figure in his quest to do the right thing.”

During his research Ben met the head of the CPS in London. He recounts: “He is a very inspirational man. I was interested to find out what sort of a person he is, what drives him, even what he was like as a child so I could start to learn how he became what he is. He explained to me that you have to have the ability to switch off emotionally but James doesn’t; he gets too involved. He never wears a watch so he can’t tell how late he’s working. He is immersed in his work.”

Episode 2: Unloved

When a 13-year-old boy is found kicked to death at Euston Station, DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) have nothing to go on. Frustrated when they can’t find any leads – not even his parents – they turn to DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter). Her press conference identifies the victim as Danny Jackson.

Matt and Ronnie discover Danny’s mother, Mandy (Nicola Stephenson), is an ex junkie whose boyfriend Stevie is suspected of physically abusing Danny. As the case begins to affect Matt and Ronnie emotionally, suspicions fall on Danny’s foster home, run by Phoebe Baxter (Joanna Hole). But who is responsible for Danny’s death? The parents who abandoned him, a foster mother who gave him too much freedom or the friends who were last to see him?

Crown Prosecutors James Steel (Ben Daniels) and Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) face Beatrice McArdle (Dervla Kirwan) an old flame from James’ defence days. She believes James is prosecuting the wrong person. James’ suspicions of this simplistic defence prove to be well founded – Beatrice is stalling for time to gather evidence for an audacious defence strategy, that the accused was genetically predisposed towards murder; a defence that would change the whole nature of the British legal system.

As the legal system hangs by a thread, James must fight harder than ever to achieve justice for the victim, Danny Jackson, but at what cost for all concerned?

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