Every once in a while a comedy comes along that stands out from the humdrum sitcom crowd.
The sharp and intelligent Defending The Guilty, from the makers of Mum and Rev, and the writer of Cuckoo, is one of those.
Will (Will Thorp) is a naïve young trainee criminal barrister negotiating the very turbulent seas of life in the law.
Can he steer his conscience safely through the waters or will he have to jettison his ideals to stay afloat?
He also struggles to survive the demands of the lawyer he’s been assigned to shadow.
The impressive Caroline – a tour-de-force performance from Katherine Parkinson, of Humans and The IT Crowd fame – is a genius creation: a ruthless misanthrope who’s an expert in the dark arts of her profession defending ‘paedo Nazis’ and ‘granny bashers’.
She refers to herself as Will’s ‘Mummy’, constantly orders him to fetch her pastries and has all the best lines.
The series is an inspired mash-up of shows such as student comedy Fresh Meat, starring Jack Whitehall, legal drama Silk, featuring Maxine Peak, and cult ’90s classic This Life, starring Andrew Lincoln.
When Will asks her for feedback, she immediately retorts: ‘Your wig’s too white.
A wig that clean says I’m a clueless novice who’s never pleasured a woman.’
Meanwhile, Will must compete with three other hugely ambitious pupils – Liam, Pia and Danielle – for the one job that will be available in their chambers at the end of their year there, with the other barristers running a book on who they think will get it.
The series is based on Defending the Guilty: Truth and Lies in the Criminal Courtroom, a book by Alex McBride about his own experiences at the bar.
It highlights, albeit very humorously, just how creaky our legal system can be, with legal-aid cuts, evidence going missing, prison vans not turning up and hopeless expert witnesses.
This is the kind of comedy that is fast-paced but not too zany, full of great characters, but not caricatures and laugh out loud funny, but not lacking in poignancy.