Law & Order: UK

Monday, 28 March 2011, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

In series four of LAW&ORDER: UK the critically acclaimed cast; Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber, Harriet Walter, Ben Daniels, Freema Agyeman and Bill Paterson tackle more emotionally gripping, unmissable stories. 

In Duty of Care, the fourth episode, when a fire at his home leads to the death of Ian Parnell – a teenager with severe disabilities – DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) and DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) soon discover the fire was no accident. The investigation draws our cops in many different directions by a multitude of potential perpetrators capable of having started the fire including the victim himself. But the finger of blame soon points towards the last person one would have expected. 

Complications develop in prosecuting the defendant when Crown prosecutors James Steel (Ben Daniels) and Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) find themselves up against ‘win-at-all-costs’ defence lawyer Dominic Peck (Oliver Dimsdale) whose outrageous ego threatens the fair outcome of the trial. With Peck constantly shifting the goalposts and misinforming his client, Megan Parnell (Beatie Edney) James finds himself acting as defence and prosecution at the same time. In an emotionally heart-rending climax, the consequences of Peck’s behaviour are brought to a crashing conclusion. Diana Quick is Judge Mary Hall. 

Talking about his character, Jamie Bamber says: “I really like playing Matt. I love the way he shoots from the hip, is enthusiastic about most things, acts first and thinks second and I love the honesty he displays. But most of all I love the relationship with Ronnie, Bradley Walsh’s character. Their differing energies compliment each other; they have an unstated respect for each other and a typical male uncommunicative type of friendship. 

“Most guys stick them in a restaurant across a table looking at each other and they’d find it awkward but stick them in a room, side by side with a football match on in the corner and they’ll have plenty of banter back and forth and even admit things about themselves and how they feel. Matt and Ronnie absolutely adore each other but would never talk about that relationship they just function well together.” 

Jamie explains what he likes about his role in the show: “Police work is dealing with the most horrendous pain in other people’s lives; pain, anger, guilt and grievances which they deal with on a daily basis. But to see that reflected in their own lives can sometimes be a bit soap operatic. I like the clean, dry functionality that the police have in our show. That is definitely a strength which is why the show works. Occasionally as an actor you get frustrated with not being able to flex your whole emotional range but I’ve learnt to love it. We come to work and life imitates art; Brad and I have a parlance and banter with the crew and with new actors just as Ronnie and Matt do together and with the people they meet every day. 

“I’m thrilled people like our partnership. It comes from the fact that Brad and I really enjoy being together. I really respect him and have learnt a lot from him. Of course it also comes from the writing and from the original American show. 

“What makes our partnership different is that we are equals. There are a lot of sidekicks in British TV; more established actors and younger sidekicks. They have been very clever with these two characters while they have differences they’re both the same rank, both carry the same weight in an episode and both see each other as equals. There are certain areas where Ronnie is undeniably senior and he carries an emotional weight. The victim’s pain is very much with Ronnie but equally the weight of anxiety for justice and the locomotion of scenes are with Matt. They do different things but first and foremost their characters have been well crafted, we used what’s there and luckily we clicked.” 

Speaking of the storyline in episode six where James Steel accuses Ronnie of concealing evidence, Jamie adds: “The two sides function as law and order but nevertheless it is ‘us and them’, there is a difference between the police and CPS. We are closely involved, all working to the same end but in different departments. There is always a slight frissant as though they are on foreign ground whenever they show up at station. So when James goes for Ronnie’s Achilles heel – the drinking that for years meant he wasn’t in control of life – Matt gets very territorial. Matt sees it like a good Catholic should; Ronnie’s done his penance and should be allowed to get on with his life. So his knee jerk reaction is ‘don’t have a go at him on his patch’. He stands up for his mate and quite rightly.” 

This episode is produced by Richard Stokes, directed by Julian Holmes and written by Debbie O’Malley. The executive producers are Andrew Woodhead, Stephen Garrett and Jane Featherstone. Dick Wolf is creator and executive producer of the series. A Kudos/Wolf Films/NBC Universal Production.

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