Garrow's Law

Garrow’s Law returns to BBC One for a third series

Interview with Alun Armstrong

I think Southouse comes to respect Lady Sarah for her feistiness and actually ends up believing that she’ll be an asset to Garrow, rather than weakening his strengths and his integrity." Alun Armstrong
Category: BBC One; Drama
An interview with Alun Armstrong who plays John Southouse in the new series of Garrow's Law on BBC One.

Where do we find Southouse at the start of this series?

It is business as usual, except that things are tough for Garrow because of the criminal conversation charge, which he lost but with damages of a shilling. He’s in disgrace and I’ve had to go giving jobs to other lawyers. But I’ve been trying to get him any work I can to get him back on the ladder. In episode one, I find a case for him which nobody wants to take. It’s an opportunity for him and I persuade him that he’s just got to do anything to get working again.

So has Garrow been ostracised?

Yes, it’s been a big scandal, fraternizing with this woman, even though he hadn’t. So we’re up against it as a twosome, and we are battling to get back up and working. But with Garrow being so idealistic, he’ll only take cases that interest him, even though he really needs the money. So in a funny sort of way, Sarah’s come in and usurped my colleague. It wasn’t like that when he was my apprentice and mucker. So Southouse is kind of resentful of Sarah.

Does he approve of Garrow and Sarah’s relationship?

Southouse is quite conservative in his views on morality, and how to conduct one’s self in society. He thinks Garrow is far too racy and always putting himself in danger, stepping off the beaten track. Being radical is fine in court, but he doesn’t want him to be like this in his real life because he feels responsible for him. He’s a kind of mentor and surrogate father. He likes Sarah but he thinks she’s brought untold trouble. It would have been much easier if Garrow had found a girl who wasn’t married!

You have a turning point in your relationship with Sarah in this series...

I think Southouse comes to respect Lady Sarah for her feistiness and actually ends up believing that she’ll be an asset to Garrow, rather than weakening his strengths and his integrity. She’s a good person and is worthy of him.

Has Southouse’s character changed over the years?

No I think he has pretty much stayed the same. He’s always been cautious and incensed by Garrow’s wilfulness, which is great conflict to play of course.

What has been the appeal of playing this character for you?

There is an avuncular nature to the man, he shows sheer decency. He’s lovely to play because everything is very subtle with him. He’s understated. I’ve done a lot of Dickens which is incredibly broad and cartoonish, so it’s lovely to play this role. But you actually see he has a flaw in his character. Skeletons come out of his cupboard and he’s not perfect.

Have you had any encounters with barristers in real life? What do they think of the show?

The real barristers I’ve met are all amazed to discover William Garrow. None of them seem to have known about him. Yet the changes in the legal process that he brought about are so basic and far reaching that you thought they would have.

When people stop you in the street what do they tend to recognise you from?

Well New Tricks has got to be the biggest because it’s been all over the world. I can hardly go anywhere without people knowing who I am. It’s very restricting (laughs). But there was a nice time after we had done the first series of Garrow’s Law that someone came up to me and said; “Ah my learned friend.”