thu 25/07/2024

Garrow's Law, BBC One / Fleetwood Mac - Don't Stop, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Garrow's Law, BBC One / Fleetwood Mac - Don't Stop, BBC One

Garrow's Law, BBC One / Fleetwood Mac - Don't Stop, BBC One

How defence lawyers were invented, and the band that became a Living Soap

Garrow of the Bailey: Andrew Buchan plays the 18th Century barrister

In Garrow's Law: Tales from the Old Bailey, writer Tony Marchant has turned to the real-life archives of the Old Bailey to find cases to illustrate the pioneering legal work of William Garrow. In the late 18th century, courtroom trials bore more resemblance to bear-baiting or witch-finding than to anything connected with justice or due process.

Defendants couldn't speak in their own defence, and the notion of having counsel who could demolish dodgy witnesses or interrupt the prosecution's outrageous slanders hadn't yet caught on.

Thus the stage was set for the redoubtable Garrow, who was so appalled by the patently unjust treatment of prisoners that he set about inventing, more or less single-handed on this showing, the art of the defence lawyer. At first glance Andrew Buchan looks too polite and mild-mannered for the title role, but once in court, surrounded by baying jurors and the supercilious prosecutor Silvester (Aidan McArdle), Buchan's Garrow narrows his eyes and unleashes cold logic and a loud voice against the contentious slings and arrows of the prosecution.

He got off to a poor start, and had to watch his first client being sent to the gallows after being fitted up for a bogus robbery, but scored his first triumph by successfully defending a servant girl accused of murdering her new-born baby. It helps that he now has the clandestine support of the glamorous justice campaigner Lady Sarah (Lyndsey Marshal).

Garrow's Law is beset by some of the usual pests that infest period drama, such as everybody being dressed as if they're off to one of Elton John's charity balls. Also the characterisations are a little too tidy, despite the fact that the BBC's compliance militia sent the BAFTA-winning Marchant to sit their "Safeguarding Trust factual drama interactive module". But the historical plotlines are strong, and it's vaguely reassuring to learn that the law was even more of a cesspit 200 years ago than it is now.

Ironically, the Living Soap that is Fleetwood Mac chimes perfectly with our era of reality TV and letting our emotions dribble out all over the floor. As the success of their current British tour suggests, the 42-year-old Mac and their saga of perpetual personal turmoil now seem far more contemporary than more recent phenomena like (say) Franz Ferdinand, since nothing looks more dated than the next big thing from 15 minutes ago.

Fleetwood Mac - Don't Stop lacked the caustic edge of the Rock Family Trees film about the band from 1995. That contained some great stuff about the fake Fleetwood Mac launched by their former manager Clifford Davis, true confessions from ex-guitarist Bob Weston about his affair with Mick Fleetwood's wife, and the one about addled guitar hero Peter Green wandering around with pieces of cheese in his hair. But inevitably director Matt O'Casey's new film had the advantage of being able to bring the story up to date, notably in a bittersweet coda reflecting on the still-unbridged chasm between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham (the current Mac lineup, pictured right).

fleetwood_mac1For all the doggedness of founding father Mick Fleetwood, who increasingly resembles a castaway from a tropical island - funnily enough, he now lives in Hawaii, along with original bassist John McVie - the Mac became the biggest band of their era because of Buckingham and Nicks. Of all the inter-band traumas, theirs was the most spectacular, intense and creative, and it still bites both of them hard to this day.

Nicks, in particular, wasn't pulling any punches. It hurt her when Buckingham wrote "Go Your Own Way" about her, and it still does: "Ladylike, prudish Stevie, which I am, was very offended by him saying 'shacking up is all you want to do', because I was not in any kind of shacking up mood. I was not shacking up with anybody."

By all accounts Buckingham has always been a gifted but bloody difficult band-mate - "one of those people that will go up on the cross to make a point, and die," as Nicks put it - but marriage and children have given him some equilibrium. Yet his history with teenage sweetheart Stevie is still a weeping scab. "Maybe in 10 or 15 years when Lindsey and I are 75, we'll be friends again, when Fleetwood Mac is a distant memory," she said wistfully. But like the Flying Dutchman, maybe the Mac can never stop.

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