Saturday, July 05, 2008

Rough justice

The BBC drama Criminal Justice completed its run last night after having me and around 4.8m other viewers on tenterhooks for most of this week. If this doesn't win Baftas galore next year, I'll be amazed.

Basically the premise behind the programme appeared to be that everyone in the criminal justice system is bent except the defendant, Ben Coulter, and his gorgeous, idealistic 26-year-old barrister Frances Kapoor, played by Vineeta Rishi. I for one find this premise entirely believable.

Some found it too hard to watch in its searing portrayal of prison life and the evil that men are capable of. Watching a prisoner trying to conceal a smuggled mobile phone up his arse during a low squat I could probably have done without, likewise the scene in which heroin is forcibly injected into Ben by the other prisoners.

This was one of the less believable aspects of the production. I'm no expert on smack, but I would have thought that directly injecting it into the veins of a first-time user would more than likely be fatal.

The highlight of the whole thing for me was the performance of that marvellous actor Pete Postlethwaite. His character Hooch was the real hero of the piece, and his ultimate decision to put himself on the line for Ben carried shades of Sydney Carton's "far, far better thing."

Ben's ultimate fate was left hanging in the air. Would he be able to move on with the rest of his life, or would his experiences inside leave him irreparably damaged? This programme was something of a mind-fuck, but it was Ben's mind that was being fucked with as well as ours.

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