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Law & Order: UK is a Britishmarker police procedural and legal television programme, adapted from the Americanmarker TV series Law & Order. The programme is financed by the production companies Kudos Film and Television, Wolf Films, and NBC Universal. Head writer and director Chris Chibnall based the first series of episodes on scripts and episodes of the parent series. Based in London, and following the formula of the original, Law & Order: UK stars Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber, Harriet Walter, Ben Daniels, Freema Agyeman, and Bill Paterson. Law & Order: UK is the first American drama television series to be adapted for British television.


Law & Order: UK is based in London.
Law & Order: UK is the latest member of the Law & Order franchise, one of the most successful brands in American primetime television. To summarise the premise of Law & Order: UK, its variation on the famous Law & Order opening statement is:

Law & Order: UK is based in Londonmarker and duplicates the episode format of the original series. The first half focuses on the perpetration of a crime and the related police investigation typically culminating in an arrest, while the second half follows the legal and court proceedings in an effort to convict the suspect. The show dwells little on the characters' back-stories or social lives, focusing mainly on their lives at work.



Law & Order: UK had been a dream of creator Dick Wolf's for a long time. The first 13 episodes are based on scripts from the original Law & Order series to accommodate contractual requirements with his company and to build on the experience with successful storytelling. The episodes were picked by show runner and lead writer Chris Chibnall, who had previously worked on Torchwood, Life on Mars and Born and Bred.

Chibnall delved through the so-called Law & Order bible (a collection of synopses for every episode) and watched the series on DVD before picking 15-16 that would translate well to British television. The final 13 episodes are the favourites of Chibnall and Stokes, although one episode had to be replaced due to incompatibility with British law. Stokes considered a 13-episode series to be quite long for British television drama, and described the pacing as "the only real challenge", whereas Dick Wolf was disappointed at the short series, as the American series typically run for more than 20 episodes per season. Wolf further hopes that the show will succeed sufficiently to allow him to push ITV for more episodes per series. The scripts have been updated for contemporariness, and while the difficulties of adapting the scripts for the British legal system exceeded the expectations of the production team, Stokes opined that audiences familiar with both shows would enjoy them for their distinctions. Comparing UK with the original Law & Order, Wolf described the biggest difference as the wigs, "The law is not really that dissimilar and, you know, murder is murder." It is unknown if a possible second series of Law & Order: UK would re-use original Law & Order scripts.

The filming of Law & Order: UK began in January 2008. Despite concerns expressed by star Jamie Bamber and Variety magazine as to the possibility of a second series, it was announced in that ITV had commissioned a second series of 13 episodes to be produced in the second half of 2009 and broadcast in 2010.

Sets and shooting

The Old Bailey, Sunday shooting location for the series ( )
Law & Order: UK frequently shoots on-location around London, including some footage taken in the Old Baileymarker, the Central Criminal Court, on Sundays. The filming of the courtroom interior, the police station, and the CPS offices takes place on sets built in disused Ministry of Defence buildings at Qinetic, off the M25 motorwaymarker around Surreymarker. The police station's sets were designed with an eye to realism, tchotchkes and personal items adorn the desks, while an ironing board and clean shirts are around for the eventuality of coppers heading to court.

Many of the familiar hallmarks of the original Law & Order were carried through to this iteration, including the opening music stylings, black-and-white intertitles, and hand-held camera work; Stokes was especially pleased to be able to use Kudos' method of "guerilla filming" on the streets of London. The Dick Wolf Cash Register Sound — "the little 'dum dum' sound"— separates scenes as well.

International broadcasting

TV3 began to show the programme in Irelandmarker, one day after its ITV showing, where it is billed as Law and Order: London. City TV broadcast the first series in Canadamarker starting 11 June 2009. Network Ten broadcasts the series in Australia.. Other countries to have picked up the series include France

In a December 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jamie Bamber speculated that the show may also be broadcast in the United States, possibly on one of NBC's cable stations. Law & Order creator Dick Wolf also expressed interest in airing the UK version in the United States, believing it would be strong enough to air on NBC on Saturday nights. In a February 2009 interview, Wolf also hinted at the possibility of a crossover episode on one of the two series. Beyond Law & Order: UK, Wolf has mentioned that he would love to have an iteration of the show set in a major Muslim city such as Cairomarker.



Bradley Walsh plays DS Ronnie Brooks, the lead cop. Brooks is an ex-alcoholic who likes to eat a lot. He has had two wives and two daughters.

Comparing him to an Obi-Wan Kenobi character, producer Stokes expects audiences to be pleasantly surprised with the English comedian in this straight man role. Walsh gained for the character, as a part of Brooks' recovering alcoholism makes him crave sugar, and the character is always eating. Walsh questioned a friend who is a Chief Inspector in the police force at Limehousemarker to help prepare for his performance by learning apropos phrases and dialogue; Walsh was also surprised at the amount of red tape the police suffer.

Jamie Bamber plays DS Matt Devlin, Brooks' less wizened and more impulsive partner, friend, and surrogate son. From an Irish-Catholic family in Kilburnmarker, Devlin has a romanticized idea of policing and absolutely loves his job. Despite rejecting the "absolutism" of his upbringing, Devlin still has a black-and-white view of the law—people are either innocent or guilty.

After starring on the American science fiction show Battlestar Galactica for five years, Bamber was happy to return and reconnect with the UK and the London theatre scene, even though he never watched the original Law and Order. Some early scenes were shot in Barnes, where Bamber grew up.

Harriet Walter plays DI Natalie Chandler, Brooks and Devlin's boss: her job is to push her detectives, making sure they stay within the lines of propriety and to play devil's advocate to their investigations. A working mother, Chandler brings a sympathy and softer side to her detectives, considering their families even when they don't. Despite maintaining her emotionality, Chandler will be the one bastion of objectivity when all others cannot.

Walter was interested in the part because she liked the character description: "very firm but also one of the lads", bounded but relaxed. Walter not only researched the role with a woman detective inspector, learning the character's responsibilities, but invented a back-story for the character: growing up with a policeman father having instilled a sense of public duty in her character.

Crown Prosecution Service

Ben Daniels plays London prosecutor James Steel. Prior to his eight years with the CPS, Steel was a defence barrister; but the coincidence of a three-time rapist's case and the birth of his first child changed his outlook on life, and he defected to the Crown Prosecution Service. However, his new passion for the other side of the law consumed his life, alienating him from his family until his wife left for Edinburghmarker with his son; his work now fills that hole as well.

A self-professed fan of the original Law & Order, Daniels re-watched the series' early stories while he was in consideration for the part of Steel. When preparing for the role, Daniels met with the real-world head of the CPS and was inspired by the man's dedication. Daniels enjoys the theatricality of the role, and specifically arranged with the production team to have both sides of his interactions with witnesses shot simultaneously to "[give] a real energy to [the] filming." Unlike Law & Order s district attorneys, who move about the court while proceeding, Steel must remain behind his bench, which Daniels found restricting and lessened the perceived drama of the original. When it came to the barrister's obligatory wig, Daniels eschewed a tailor-made one for one with a long-standing television history; among others, Daniels' horsehair wig was worn by Alan Davies in The Brief.

Freema Agyeman plays Alesha Phillips, Steel's assistant. Phillips grew up on a council estate with her single mother and attended university on scholarships and hard work. After being rejected from four different law firms, Phillips became worried about whether it was because of her credentials, or because she was a black woman from Hackneymarker. Definitively on the side of the disadvantaged and the underdog, Phillips brings the empathy and shades of gray to her working relationship with Steel. While Phillips works as a crown prosecutor, because she trained as a solicitor, her title is "solicitor advocate"; as such, she doesn't wear the wig, because she didn't train as a barrister.

Agyeman is a self-professed fan of original Law & Order as well—especially seasons three & four—having first watched them in the early 1990s. In preparation for the role, Agyeman sat in on live trials, toured the Old Baileymarker, and conferred with her law-degree holding sister, Leila. Although Agyeman admits that characteristically she and Alesha do not have a lot in common, she can identify with Alesha being very much the voice of the people in her arguments.

Bill Paterson plays George Castle, the head of the CPS for London. Castle runs his office with an iron hand, keeping the pressure on Steel and Phillips, of whom he is fiercely protective. Castle was an independent barrister before working for the CPS, and is driven by a sense of justice.

Paterson was never attracted to the law while a student to become a quantity surveyor. Ironically, in the BBC thriller Criminal Justice, Paterson played a detective superintendent who referred to the CPS as the "Can't Prosecute Service". Never attracted to law as a student, Paterson now finds the theatricality of law akin to acting, saying, "You prepare a sort of brief of your work and you present that day in court or on stage as though it was the most important thing in your life. Then you walk away with your colleagues and go and have a drink." After a spate of teenage stabbings affected Paterson's neighbourhood, the actor had the opportunity to watch the cause and effect of criminal proceedings when he shadowed Law & Order: UK s legal advisor while the latter was a defence lawyer on the case. Watching the trial in the Old Bailey, the experience "brought an intensity" to Paterson's role. Paterson also expressed an interest in meeting up with Law & Order s Sam Waterston, with whom he worked in 1984 on the set of The Killing Fields.

Guest stars

Guest stars across the first series include Holly Aird, Iain Glen, Colin Salmon, Juliet Aubrey, Sean Pertwee, Frances Barber, Derek Riddell, and Keith Barron. Answering fans' inquiries in as to whether Law & Order: Special Victims Unit character John Munch—played by Richard Belzer—will appear on Law & Order: UK, Chibnall joked that he believed it was a contractual obligation.


Series 1 (2009)

# Title Directed by Written by Original airdate Viewing figures

Original Law & Order episode


Independent writer Robin Jarossi attended a special preview of the premiere episode at the British Film Institute in London (attended to by Wolf, Chibnall, Daniels, and Agyeman) on . Jarossi praised the uniquely British take on the venerable franchise for balancing the new vision with maintaining the proven Law & Order formula. Jarossi specifically extolled the unexpected casting of Bradley Walsh, the excellent use of their London backdrop, and Chibnall's adaptation of the show. John Boland of the Irish Independent spent a lot of time comparing Law & Order: UK to the original, ultimately deciding that the former is just as engrossing as the latter, if its tone is slightly more jocular and treacly. Boland expects ITV "[has] a winner on its hands." Andrew Billen from The Times expects the series to be successful based on the premiere episode, and TV Times said that "those concerned can give themselves a pat on the back because this really, really works." The Daily Express Matt Baylis described the new series as "a breath of fresh air [...], and the Daily Mirror said "It’s all highly professional and heroic." Variety magazine called the series a hit, quoting NBC Universal as saying, " Law and Order has won its slot every week and is actually increasing its ratings."

While Radio Times reviewer Alison Graham felt the series' execution was adequate, she criticized its pacing and writing; the former for not matching that of the original Law & Order programmes, and the latter for "[falling] headfirst into a typically British legal-drama trap of the noble prosecutor [...] crusading to bring the guilty to justice while pitted against the louche, self-serving defence barrister." Whereas, on the other hand, The Guardian s Sarah Dempster didn't feel that using the original series' camera work and stylings was appropriate for British crime drama: "Fiddly. And wrong.". However, later on in the series' run The Observer's Kathryn Flytt writes that despite her initial prejudices, the series "seems to have absorbed the pace and energy of the original without looking too tricksily derivative".

In Australia, the premiere episode which aired on 12 August 2009, only rated 775,000 viewers (compared with the average numbers of 1 million viewers on the major commercial networks) and was outside the top 15 rated shows for that period.


  1. Law & Order: UK - Network Ten - Network Ten
  2. Law & Order: UK premieres August 12th - tvauscast ,28 July 2009
  5. Seven - Daily Ratings Report - eNews, 13 August 2009

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