GF Newman, writer and producer of Judge John Deed, reveals more about the new series, and why he thinks the character of Deed is such a hit with the viewers.
What makes the character of Judge John Deed so appealing?
"Judge John Deed is the kind of judge you would hope to appear in front of, were you ever to go up the steps. He appeals to most people because he pursues justice regardless of personal risk and a sense of justice is one of the highest of human aspirations. Deed speaks out against all the petty rules and bureaucracy that frustrates us all but that most of us don’t speak out against."
How much do the viewers need to understand about the law?
"No drama should stop or take time to explain the proceedings in a courtroom, but instead try to steer the viewer through it in an intelligent way that leaves him or her with a clear understanding. What we get with this series is an intricate exploration of the law, without patronising the audience.The law is something which often frustrates and confuses people – especially in their own dealings with it. It is often arcane and impenetrable to us."
One storyline in the new series, sees a child who's in desperate need of a heart transplant, fighting for the right not to be operated on. How do you approach these sensitive issues?
"It’s relatively easy for people to fall on one side or other of an ‘issue’ Most parents would say, ‘Of course he should have the new heart.’ But if you make the child sufficiently intelligent to know his own mind and with a good reason for opposing the operation, add the fact that he’s but a few weeks from an age when he could make this decision for himself, and the dilemma increases. You’ve no less sympathy for these loving parents but their argument on one side of the equation is suddenly less weighted. You never truly know how you’d react until you’re tested."
In the past you've caused a stir with Law and Order and The Nation's Health. Do you set out to be controversial with your scripts?
"I’ve always been surprised my work is controversial. Controversy is not something I’ve deliberately courted. Possibly the most radical aspect of Judge John Deed is that it features a High Court judge who is in touch with his feelings and who is prepared to bring them to the bench and let them show. Drama is about stretching cosy assumptions to breaking point and finding something worthwhile with which to replace them. There obviously is an audience out there hungry for intelligent drama. They want to engage in it and have to concentrate when watching it."
As well as writing Judge John Deed, you're also the show's producer. Does this cause any problems?
"The producer in me fights the writer in me, and the writer gives pretty good argument with the producer. One feels almost schizophrenic at times!"
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