Episode 4

Monday, 16 March 2009, 9:00PM on ITV1

When it came to researching her role as a Crown Prosecutor in ITV’s Law & Order: UK Freema Agyeman had help close at hand; her sister has a law degree.

“My sister Leila was a great help when I needed advice so I’m hugely grateful to her,” says Freema. “I had plenty of time to research after I got the role of Alesha. I did a tour of the Old Bailey which was incredible. It is so immense and intimidating I felt as though the weight of the law was on my shoulders.

“I sat through some hearings which were very interesting. To be there watching a real case with a real victim and a real perpetrator; it almost felt like I was watching it on television.”

But despite a less than easy route to her current position, Freema doesn’t think her character has a chip on her shoulder.

“Alesha’s back story reads ‘Leaves school with 3 A’s at A Levels and goes straight to City Law School to do a three year BA Honours and during this time Alesha tries to get placements at different law firms and gets rejected four times’. So she starts to wonder that it’s not because she isn’t good enough but whether it is because she is a black woman from Hackney. She hasn’t got a chip on her shoulder but she is very much on the side of the disadvantaged, the underdog, with the people that haven’t been given a fair shot at life. Naturally, this has made her a bit more sensitive to people and gives a fairness to her.”

Freema continues: “Alesha is very strong willed and driven in her work. She is an intelligent and confident woman and absolutely believes in her job and everything it stands for, but she is not as absolute in everything as her boss and she does retain an empathy for who the people are in these cases. She is the ying to James’ yang. Job wise Alesha is a crown prosecutor but she trained as a solicitor so her title is a solicitor advocate hence she doesn’t wear a wig in court because she didn’t train as a barrister.

“She may not say much in court but I really enjoy playing that link between the police and the prosecutors. It means Alesha gets to do a lot of digging and sort of bridges the divide between the two sides.”

In episode four when a metal-detecting pensioner unearths a shallow grave by the side of the Thames, DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) are forced to reopen a contentious murder case. Their investigations into the case of Luke Slade (Iain Glen) threaten to unravel a conviction made by James Steel eight years ago.

After Luke Slade (Iain Glen) is given leave to appeal, Senior Crown Prosecutor James Steel (Ben Daniels) must revisit his past and one of his first cases for the CPS. But when Luke Slade represents himself in court, the case becomes more than a legal appeal – it soon becomes a personal vendetta between Slade and Steel. Luke Slade has been studying law during his time in prison – and he’s determined not to lose to James again.

As Slade begins to get the better of James in court, Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) and Director of CPS, London, George Castle (Bill Paterson) begin to question whether James was overzealous in his initial prosecution. And when the prosecution case comes under threat, personal and professional loyalties are tested to the limit. Is Luke Slade guilty of murder? And why is he taking so much pleasure from this legal game of cat and mouse with James Steel? James’ career is on the line – and the murders are not yet over.


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