Episode 6

Monday, 30 March 2009, 9:00PM on ITV1

In all his years of acting Bill Paterson has never played a man of the law but he will soon be seen in Law & Order: UK portraying a crucial link in the British justice system.

“George Castle heads up the London Branch of the Crown Prosecution Service. He was an independent barrister in a previous life before being snapped up by the CPS. He is a man driven by a sense of justice. He wants to see bad people prosecuted and he is not prepared to be too liberal about things.”

Bill continues: “George runs his ship with an iron hand to some extent. His two younger associates, James and Alesha, are the active members of his team who carry out the bulk of the tasks but I keep their noses to the grind stone. I can often be heard stressing that we have to make the case stick or that the evidence is too flimsy. Basically George has to carry the can upstairs and needs to be sure they are taking forward prosecutions they can win. They can’t prosecute on a whim. I tie together the plot and clarify what we are going to court with.”

But in his last television role he did deride the profession he now upholds in his latest guise. “In Criminal Justice I played a detective superintendent who actually calls the CPS the Can’t Prosecute Service so I was a bit worried the legal men wouldn’t be too happy about my casting,” he laughs.

Bill admits the law is not an area that attracted him as a student. “I had to read a little law when I was a quantity surveyor and that made me realise it didn’t appeal – even if I had got the necessary qualifications. The law can be mundane, lengthy court cases with lots of time spent writing everything down. In some ways though the theatricality of the law is quite close to acting. You prepare a sort of brief of your work and you present that day in court or on stage as though it was the most important thing in your life. Then you walk away with your colleagues and go and have a drink.”

When a Turkish social club on the Edgware Road is burned to the ground in an horrific arson attack, DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh), DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) and DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) are embroiled in a major investigation into seventeen deaths. Fears of a racist attack or hate crime drive the investigation, but with a trail incorporating false identities and a devious method of fire-setting, the team soon discover the truth is even more complex. Can the police and legal teams work together in the face of opposition from respected barrister St John Artemis (Charles Kay) to remove a key piece of evidence from a suspect’s leg? And will that evidence lead them any closer to the person responsible?

Even when the police find and arrest the arsonist, the case is far from over. Senior Crown Prosecutor James Steel (Ben Daniels) and Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) question whether the arsonist was working alone, or on the orders of someone else. As George Castle (Bill Paterson) pressures them to deliver results, James finds himself confronting one of his oldest friends. Could Faruk Osman (Selva Raslingham) be involved in a conspiracy to burn members of his own community? As he faces down opposition barrister Michaela Herman (Frances Barber), is James willing to risk a valued friendship in order to gain justice for the dead?

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    When are ITV going to stop projecting the British Police force as the all conquering heroes as in “Law & Order UK” and see them as the majority of the public see them as a group of not to trusted. If you want to make a conmpelling series, show the the brutality and coverups that come with the uniforms. The public admire the armed services for the risks they take on our behalfs but no longer trust the police to be on their side.

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