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Saturday 19 Apr 2014

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Criminal Justice: introduction

Criminal Justice

Peter Moffat's BAFTA Award-winning Criminal Justice returns to BBC One for five consecutive nights and stars Maxine Peake as a mother in desperate trouble.

Maxine Peake (Hancock And Joan, Red Riding) stars as Juliet Miller in this major new five-part thriller which takes an uncompromising and insightful look at our criminal justice system, but this time through the journey of one woman. Criminal Justice is made by BBC Drama Production for BBC One.

Peake leads an impressive cast that boasts some of Britain's top acting talent including Matthew Macfadyen (Enid, Little Dorrit), Sophie Okonedo (Mrs Mandela, Tsunami: The Aftermath), Denis Lawson (Enid, Bleak House), Steven MacKintosh (England Expects), Eddie Marsan (39 Steps, Little Dorrit), Zoe Telford (Match Point) and Kate Hardie (Safe).

Joe Miller (Matthew MacFadyen) is a barrister at the height of his professional powers. He is married to Juliet (Maxine Peake) who is fragile and isolated at home. They have one daughter, 13-year-old Ella (Alice Sykes).

One night Juliet stabs Joe in his bed. Life will never be the same again for the Miller family.

As fragile mother Juliet travels through the criminal justice system under the constant scrutiny of police, prison and social services, questions of psychological and sexual abuse are raised. Her case passes through the family courts and she concludes her ordeal in a tense finale in the Crown Court.

Other cast include: Denis Lawson as the cerebral DCI Faber; Steven Mackintosh as DI Sexton, who believes he sees an open and shut case; Eddie Marsan as Joe Miller's ever-loyal clerk; Sophie Okonedo as Jack, Juliet's committed duty solicitor, and Zoe Telford as her defence barrister, Anna Klein.

Criminal Justice shot earlier this year on locations in and around London and was directed by Yann Demange (episodes one to three) and Marc Jobst (episodes four and five) and produced by Steve Lightfoot.

Criminal Justice reunites writer Peter Moffat with BBC executive producer Hilary Salmon.

Peter Moffat says: "When I finished writing the first Criminal Justice my strongest feeling was that there was an awful lot more to say about the criminal justice system – but I wanted to find a different approach.

"My wife used to be a family law barrister. Her practice involved a lot of work involving children being taken into care and damaged women with children. I have always been struck by the fact that the world of family law is hidden, secret and consequently misunderstood.

"What my wife and the people she worked with were telling me didn't accord with public perception. It occurred to me that writing a second Criminal Justice with a woman as the main character and the family courts alongside the criminal courts would make for impactful drama and a fresh way of looking at the system.

"Criminal Justice has a unique point of view. The central character is in most scenes; the process she is going through – crime, police station, courts, prison – is all seen from her perspective. This is because, as far as possible, I want the audience to share her experience. I think the power of television is through its intimacy – staying right in close with a woman going through what Juliet (Maxine Peake) goes through for five straight hours of television drama is the most effective way of harnessing that power.

"I think we as a society should be judged by the standards of our criminal justice system. There's a lot that is good about our system and a lot that is bad. I have talked to so many police officers, prisoners, prison officers, prison governors, social workers, psychiatrists, lawyers and judges – and the thing they all share is strength of feeling about the workings of the system they are a part of. They care deeply about the rights and wrongs. I hope that Criminal Justice can help bring that strength of feeling out into the open and make it part of a bigger conversation."

The first Criminal Justice broadcast in June 2008 to great acclaim and has since won the prestigious BAFTA for Best Drama Serial and also gained newcomer Ben Whishaw the RTS Best Actor award, and a BAFTA nomination, for his portrayal of Ben Coulter.

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