BBC Two has commissioned ‘Defending the Guilty’ a new comedy from Big Talk Productions (Rev., Cold Feet, Mum, Friday Night Dinner). Written by Kieron Quirke (Cuckoo), based on the book ‘Defending the Guilty: Truth and Lies in the Criminal Courtroom’ by Alex McBride. 

Will Sharpe (Flowers), plays Will Packham – an idealistic pupil barrister being shown the ropes by his cynical, worldly-wise pupilmaster Caroline, played by BAFTA Award winner Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, Humans). Mistakenly believing that his role is to serve justice (“No Will, a Barrister’s job is to win”), Will must navigate his way through a criminal justice system seemingly designed to be as opaque and confusing as possible. While also dealing with his fellow pupils, each of them after the same single job at the end of their training and more than happy to stab each other in the back to get it. Can he succeed and hold on to his principles? Or will the system claim another victim? 

Additional cast include Gwyneth Keyworth (Black Mirror) as Danielle, Prasanna Puwanarajah (Doctor Foster, Patrick Melrose) as Ashley and Hugh Coles as Liam.

The 6 x 30’ series has been commissioned by Shane Allen, Controller, Comedy Commissioning and Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two. The BBC Comedy Commissioning Editor is Kate Daughton.
Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, said: “We only went along for a read through and ended up ordering a whole series! Such incisive writing, cutting humour and a brilliantly rendered world. I am delighted we are bringing Defending the Guilty to the audience on Two.” 

Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, said: “A terrifically vibrant and sure-footed pilot made for a very quick and easy decision on Defending the Guilty going to series. There’s a very universal theme of having high ideals when entering this professional world versus the cold hard, cloak and dagger reality of how the legal profession truly operates. The core cast have irresistible chemistry and the writing fires out whip smart lines in all directions. A very classy addition to the BBC Two canon of comedy.”

Kenton Allen, Chief Executive of Big Talk said: “Alex’s book was expert, authoritative and hilarious and in Kieron Quirke’s excellent hands, the real life of Criminal Barristers will be an eye-popping, roller-coaster ride through our criminal justice system that will make you re-examine everything you thought you knew about Great British Justice.” 

‘Defending the Guilty’ is a Big Talk production, Produced by Georgie Fallon (Mum), Directed by Jim Field Smith (The Wrong Mans), Created by Kieron Quirke and Alex McBride, Executive Producers are Kenton Allen, Saurabh Kakkar, Jim Field Smith and Kieron Quirke for Big Talk, and Kate Daughton for the BBC.  BBC Studios are the international distributors.