The Trial: A Murder in the Family
The Trial is a brand new, ground-breaking five-part series to be stripped across one week on Channel 4.
In it, a fictional crime will be authentically tried by a team including eminent practicing QCs, a genuine judge and a jury of 12 members of the public. The only actors include the accused – a man who is pleading not guilty for the murder of his wife - the deceased, and some of the witnesses.
A thrilling hybrid of drama and documentary, The Trial aims to both hook viewers with the real twists and turns of a criminal murder trial and reveal the inner workings of the justice system as never seen before. Secrets of what being a juror entails will be revealed when cameras follow them into the deliberation room as they try to reach their verdict.
The trial centres around the murder of 38-year-old Carla Davis, who was strangled to death in her own home. The accused is her estranged husband, Simon. The prosecution is led by Max Hill QC with junior barrister Michelle Nelson. Defendant Davis is represented by John Ryder QC and junior barrister Lucy Organ. Presiding is Judge Brian Barker CBE QC – formerly the most senior judge at the Old Bailey.
Giving evidence at the trial will be forensic experts, police officers and eye witnesses as well as friends and relatives of both the deceased and the accused.
The series is directed by BAFTA winners Nick holt and Kath Mattock . Nick scooped his second BAFTA for the ground breaking documentary The Murder Trial which aired on channel 4 in 2013, the same year Kath made BAFTA awarding drama single Murder.
In a pioneering new series blending documentary and drama, a fictional murder case is tried in a real court, by eminent legal professionals and a jury comprised of 12 randomly selected members of the public. Meet Simon Davis (played by actor Michael Gould), an academic accused of murdering his estranged wife. His defence team is led by renowned QC John Ryder, whose CV includes the Damilola Taylor murder trial; the prosecution is steered by the government’s new independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Max Hill QC. The format will provide unique insights into the how both sides conduct their cases, from strategic debates to conferences with clients. Presiding is Brian Barker, recently retired but formerly the most senior judge at the Old Bailey. As the trial begins, police officers and eye witnesses are called to give evidence and a picture is slowly painted of the day Carla Davis was killed, while Simon and the jury look on.
The trial continues with key evidence from those that know Carla and Simon best: their friends, colleagues and family. All are subjected to rigorous cross-examination from defence and prosecution teams. As details emerge of Simon and Carla’s personal histories and questionable past behaviour, the jurors begin to form a fuller picture of both why they separated and what their relationship was like at the time of Carla’s death. Will Simon be able to remain impassive as the emotional testimonies mount up.
The end of the trial draws near, with two key players yet to speak. First up is Lewis Skinner (Kevin Harvey), Carla’s boyfriend at the time of her death and someone with a few secrets of his own. While the prosecution position him as a man bereaved, the defence argue that, as a potential alternative suspect for the murder, both his presence and actions present sufficient reasonable doubt for Simon to be acquitted. How will he fare on the stand? Meanwhile, a critical decision looms for the accused. Will John and Lucy advise Simon to take the stand, or might they feel that his testimony could count against him if he’s not up to the task? With juries now allowed to draw inferences from a defendant’s decision not to give evidence, everything now hangs in the balance. The final decision, however, rests with Simon himself.
The final evidence is heard, John Ryder and Max Hill offer their closing speeches and Judge Brian Barker gives his summing-up address, before the jurors are sent down to begin their deliberations. Offering an unprecedented insight into a jury’s decision process, cameras will capture every highly charged debate and dilemma, from the selection of a chairperson to the fate of the defendant himself.
The jury concludes its deliberations, while Simon Davis (Michael Gould) and both legal teams await their verdict. Will it prove to have been the right one? The truth will finally out, as a dramatized segment depicts the last tragic moments of the life of Carla Davis (Emma Lowndes) and the real events of 24th September 2015 are revealed once and for all.
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