Much like its fellow franchise members, Law & Order UK follows a familiar, well-worn path. The police investigate crime, find who they think is their man or woman and then hand the matter over to the Crown Prosecution Service who then prosecute the suspect. Personal lives and soap-operatic elements are left to one side – this is all about the cases.


Law & Order UK seems to have real legs. Here we are with season 4 on DVD, with season 5 due to start airing this week on ITV (for UK viewers). Despite its slavish devotion to the established format and despite the numerous US iterations (the original series, Special Victims Unit, Criminal Intent, Trial by Jury) it has found an audience and from the evidence of this season, rightly so. This is very much a case of “if it ain’t broke”, with this season relying upon a re-hashing of the stories from episodes of the US series, which given the dozen-plus seasons available, provides a feast of opportunities, even if it does smack rather of laziness.

Bradley Walsh and Jamie Bamber, as detectives Ronnie Brooks and Matt Devlin respectively, investigate under the supervision of Harriet Walter’s Natalie Chandler, before handing the ball off to CPS Chief Prosecutor James Steel (Ben Daniels) and his assistant Alesha Phillips (Doctor Who’s Freema Agyeman), who build the case under the watchful eye of DPP George Castle (Bill Paterson). It is all very professionally executed by an intelligent and believable cast, who constantly come across as real people with real lives, without falling into the trap of going home with them like Casualty and Holby City. We don’t need to know about their respective home lives, the script work is sharp enough to render them in three dimensions.

There are precious few ground-shaking twists, but the cases develop believably, with coherent and thought-through developments and denouements. The legal terminology and courtroom procedures are spot-on and real effort has been invested in casting to make sure there are no dud notes. It all hangs together really well.

If there are any gripes, they are minor. The series follows such a familiar format that the episodes can begin to feel unimaginative and even a little repetitive, but the scripts are kept tight and the narratives fluid, so at least the stories don’t lag. Special mention ought to go to Ben Daniels as James Steel, a tenacious lawyer and a consummately intelligent prosecutor. He brings real gravitas and sincerity to his role and it is pleasing to see him given a really juicy role in the season finale, as the collapse of a previous prosecution results in his own trial for perverting the course of justice. We really get under his skin as the trial develops and he fights for his freedom and his reputation.

Although I have not seen any earlier seasons of Law & Order UK, this has whetted my appetite for the upcoming season 5. I would encourage you to check this series out if you can; it has a lot to commend it. You can grab season 4 of Law & Order UK from today at Lovefilm and elsewhere.

Extras: Some slightly gushy and therefore uninformative interviews with the principal cast and producer. Not much there.

Series: [Rating:3.5/5]

Extras: [Rating:1/5]

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Dave Roper
Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.