Show trial

Show trial

A small part of me wonders if Show trial it has the wrong title.

Three episodes into a five-episode run and no one has yet entered a courtroom.

Thankfully none of this detracts from the drama unfolding in a new British drama from writer Ben Richards (Outcasts).

The story surrounds the death of Hannah, a young woman found dead after a prom in Bristol.

Arrested for the crime is classmate Talitha (Céline Buckens), a bratty daughter of a wealthy businessman (James Frain).

Assigned to the case is public defender Cleo Roberts (Tracy Ifeachor), but it’s a very tenuous working relationship between attorney and client. Talitha shows her little respect and little interest in proving her innocence.

DI Cassidy (Sinéad Keenan) leads the investigation, even as her superior (Sharon D. Clarke) calls the shots, with DI Thornley (Kerr Logan) tasked with breaking the news to Hannah’s mother. The other key player is a third teenage Dhillon (Joseph Payne) who was seen at the prom with the two girls and whose mother (Lolita Chakrabarti) happens to be a British politician.

If the police are convinced that Talitha is at the center of the crime, hence the Show trial title, then it’s Cleo who’s tasked with proving everyone wrong. And as you’d expect in any legal drama, all the cards are stacked against her…unreliable client, overbearing father who makes demands, her own employer, and mounting evidence paints a grim picture. But as a character that she could have come out of The Good Fightshe will yell and throw at those who throw her in all directions.

It’s Tracy Ifeachor who makes this story sing, yet Céline Buckens is suitably unsympathetic in the difficult role of the defendant. Under the direction of Zara Hayes, the ensemble is strong throughout and definitely not cast for star power.

In a world of social media and clickbait, Ben Richards explores the themes of privilege on trial and whether guilt or innocence is judged too readily, or even by association.

In episode three I would have welcomed a little more momentum in the plot, and ideally some courtroom scenes where our hero lands some punches and surprise revelations (you know the drill).

But Show trial is another strong offering from World Productions (Line of Duty, Vigil, The Pembrokeshire Murders) which will keep you guessing.

Double episode showtrial 8:30 pm Thursday on Seven.