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Jury (1983)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Jury (1983)
BBC1, 7/4-7/7/1983
13 x 50 min episodes, colour
DirectorsPeter Duguid
 Ken Hannam
 Carol Wiseman
WritersAndrew Lynch
 Peter Whalley
 Ken Blakeson

Cast: William Gaunt (Andrew Cook), Gabrielle Lloyd (Mary Matthews), Debbie Farrington (Christine Cywinska), Margaret Whiting (Ann Coombes), Steve Alder (Steve Jackson), Angela Morant (Elizabeth Robbins), Hugh Lloyd (Gerald Sadler), David Simeon (David Farrell), Charles Shaughnessy (Julian Spears), Richard Piper (Mick Thompson), Desmond McNamara (John Bannister), Corinne Skinner-Carter (Louise Barrett)

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The disillusionment and sadness in the lives of twelve people brought together to serve on the jury in a rape case.

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Each episode of this unusual anthology drama tells the story of a jury member while concurrently presenting the rape trial all are serving on. The series' principal director, Peter Duguid, brought a wealth of experience to the project, having already produced and directed Six Days of Justice (ITV, 1972-1975), from which he also drew cast members Hugh Ross, John Abineri and George Waring. Duguid directed all the series' courtroom scenes and also handled four episodes in their entirety, setting the tone in the opening instalment and wrapping up the show in the extended two-part finale. He also directed its most unusual episode, 'Elizabeth and Steve' (tx. 16/6/1983), a sad, sexually candid love story between two of the jurors shown in flashback during the prosecution's final summation.

The stories are mostly downbeat, dealing with disappointment, rejection and disillusionment. 'Gerald' (tx. 28/4/1983) is about a seemingly happily married couple in their sixties who are in fact embroiled in morass of sexual dysfunction; in 'David' (tx. 5/5/1983), an honest businessman is driven to bribery to keep his business afloat, while 'Christine' (tx. 14/4/1983) sees a young athlete curtail her love affair with apparent indifference when the man turns out to be married.

As the audience sees only what the jury sees, the original attack is not shown. However, the final individual story, 'Ann' (tx. 23/6/1983), suggests this by proxy, with its eponymous juror raped in a hotel room and then subjected to a brutal interrogation by unsympathetic police officers. The placement of this story just before the two-part finale is designed to make a guilty verdict seem all the more likely, a popular strategy in the jury genre, the best-known example of which remains Reginald Rose's American television play Twelve Angry Men (CBS, tx. 20/9/1954; remade for the cinema in 1957). Rose's play is explicitly referenced in 'John' (tx. 17/4/1983), and there is no denying its influence over the concluding episodes dealing with the jury's deliberations and decision to acquit. The juror (Mary) who insists on a guilty verdict despite the mitigating evidence, the man who changes his vote to go home early, the conclusion, with the characters saying their farewells on the court steps - these are all elements reminiscent of Rose's work. Regardless, Jury holds up well as a finely acted, bleak, but ultimately intelligent collection of character pieces, interconnected with great sophistication.

Sergio Angelini

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Video Clips
1. Courtship (5:49)
2. His place (3:25)
3. Her place (3:36)
Complete episode (53:52)
Six Days of Justice (1972-75)
Legal Drama