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Defending The Guilty. Image shows from L to R: Will Packham (Will Sharpe), Caroline Bratt (Katherine Parkinson), Ashley (Prasanna Puwanarajah), Danielle (Gwyneth Keyworth). Copyright: Big Talk Productions
Will is an idealistic pupil barrister. But his boss doesn't respect him, his clients are all guilty and he is fighting for his job. He is starting to wonder if he has got what it takes.

Further details

Will and Caroline are defending an old lag of a murder suspect with overwhelming evidence against him. But what with Caroline being distracted by her failed silk application they end up pleading innocent anyway.

Meanwhile, Will learns from his fellow pupils that he's last in the running for the job at the end of the year and - worrying all his work has been for nothing - does something he'll regret. Only, a bit of smart thinking can partially save the day, and a piece of brutal cynicism goes a little further.


Many of the scenes from this pilot were re-used in Episode 1 of the series.

Broadcast details

Wednesday 19th September 2018
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Will Sharpe Will Packham
Katherine Parkinson Caroline Bratt
Gwyneth Keyworth Danielle
Hugh Coles Liam
Prasanna Puwanarajah Ashley
Guest cast
Emily Berrington Pia
Sofia Barclay Selina
Ian Burfield Mike
Georgie Glen Judge
Shanu Hazzan Jake
Grace Hoggg-Robinson Gracie
Cally Lawrence Lorraine
Nneka Okoye Becca
Marcus Onilude DI Soulsby
Jessica Ransom Nessa
Kirsty Wark Self (Voice)
Writing team
Kieron Quirke Writer
Production team
Jim Field Smith Director
Georgie Fallon Producer
Kenton Allen Executive Producer
Saurabh Kakkar Executive Producer
Jim Field Smith Executive Producer
Kieron Quirke Executive Producer
Matthew Justice Executive Producer
Alex McBride Associate Producer
Jo Alloway Line Producer
David Webb Editor
Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
Rachel Freck Casting Director
Wiz Francis Costume Designer
Lara Singer Development Editor
Jamie Cairney Director of Photography
Juliette Tomes Make-up Designer
Paul Judges 1st Assistant Director
Kate Daughton Commissioning Editor


Defending the Guilty review

My initial impression was that I really liked it. It was not perfect and certainly was not a laugh a minute, however there definitely were more things to like about it than to dislike.

Andy Lloyd, Telly Binge, 24th September 2018

What a delight to find, over on BBC Two, Will Sharpe, last seen popularly as Shun in the bizarre, brilliant Flowers, heading up his own six-parter, Defending the Guilty. From the team behind such hits as Rev and Mum, it is, as one might expect, sharp and bittersweet, yet more mainstream than either, featuring Will as a faux-naif trainee barrister. Who tends to come out with phrases such as "Wow. He is... very guilty."

There are achingly accurate slivers of class war as rival young barristers compete for the attention of chambers, in the shadows of gangster wars, brutal slayings, unconscionable paedophiles, vicious wine bar put-downs. This series almost dares to ask "what is justice?", but eventually pulls its punches, opting for lines such as "why do we work for murderers rather than working with... nice people with Cath Kidston tea towels and children mostly called Alfie?", and even when delivered by Katherine Parkinson this disappoints. Could have done with being harsher, but it's still sharp and stands head and shoulders above every legal "comedy".

Euan Ferguson, The Guardian, 23rd September 2018

Lawyers split over new BBC barrister comedy

Series follows the exploits of four tenancy-hungry pupils.

Aishah Hussain, Legal Cheek, 20th September 2018

This is the pilot of a corking comedy by Kieron Quirke (Cuckoo) due to air next year about the trials of pupil barrister Will (Will Sharpe) under the casual tutelage of Caroline (Katherine Parkinson, on fine form): "What makes a barrister, Will? The brain of a fox, the balls of an ox, the hugest of cocks."

Mike Bradley, The Guardian, 19th September 2018

Defending the Guilty, review

A potty-mouthed brush with the law.

Benji Wilson, The Telegraph, 19th September 2018

Review: Defending the Guilty

Defending the Guilty smartly sends up nepotism and idealism in the criminal justice system.

Sarah Carson, i Newspaper, 19th September 2018

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