With unprecedented access to one of the UK’s leading defence chambers – 25 Bedford Row – we will look to follow the barristers from the moment they are given a case, through the emotionally charged twists and turns of the judicial process, preparing for court and a dramatic, life-changing verdict. At stake could be the next 25 years of a client’s life and devastation for their families.
“It’s the courage to be able to say, this is why the state is wrong. And when that 12-person jury says we accept the state are wrong. Is there anything better?” – Sheryl Nwosu, Barrister
The barristers handle everything from speeding fines to murder, shop lifting to armed robbery, high stakes fraud to drugs conspiracy. Miss a vital piece of evidence and their clients could face years behind bars, make a mistake and you could destroy a life. For the first time we get to see the work that goes into preparing ‘the defence’ – from walking the crime scene to forensic examination – to win their case they are going to have to try harder, and be better, than the police, crown prosecution and the might of that side of the British justice system.
The Defenders marks new territory – following the day-to-day life of a team of dedicated barristers, who turn the old fashioned image of all barristers looking like ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ on its head. We get to know them as people - their life outside work, their families, friendships, ‘keep sane’ hobbies and late-night heart to hearts. This is a tough, stressful, superficially glamorous world where a sense of humour is essential and loyalty is everything.
What happens when a small cast of characters are faced with a shifting landscape of choice and dilemma, decision and indecision, probability and error, lies and the quest for truth.
The series has been commissioned as part of Channel 4’s Black to Front project which aims to amplify black stories and voices, and accelerate change in representation.
Richard Melman, executive producer, says :"For almost a year, we've been given a remarkable insight into a rarely seen world of remarkable people who fight everyday for justice in cases ranging from parking to murder. It's been an eye-opening privilege".
Shaminder Nahal, commissioning editor, says: “We’re used to seeing TV programmes about crime – but it’s rare to see what goes on in the world of the barristers defending the alleged criminals. These films will attempt to tell us new truths about the justice system, and how it works - and the people working with in it, and caught up in it. The highly topical series was commissioned as part of the Black to Front project – one of the aims of which is to tell authentic and diverse stories not often heard.”
Executive producers: Kathy Myers and Richard Melman
Production Company: Spring Films
Commissioning Editor: Shaminder Nahal & Rita Daniels