SILK: The Clerk’s Room

Silk was a BBC TV series about lawyers (“silk”, I believe, referring to the higher status lawyers aspire to — Q.C.). Anyway, BBC Radio then did a spin-off of 45 min. dramas after the TV series was over (3 episodes in 2014 though whether more might be a possibility, I dunno) — possibly just called The Clerk‘s Room (as opposed to Silk: The Clerk‘s Room).

I’ve never seen the TV version, but I’m assuming it was a fairly typical legal series, so my impression is the radio version drew upon some of the same characters and actors (including Theo Barklem-Biggs, Amy Wren, John Macmillan, Neil Stuke, Jessica Henwick and others)  but inverted the formula. That is, the TV series was mainly about the lawyers, with their clerks as supporting players — while in the radio version, the focus is on the clerks, with the lawyers more the supporting players. In England (moreso than in Canada or the U.S.) the clerks can kind of be the power-behind-the-throne in chambers (ie: law offices) as they organize schedules and dole out briefs according to what lawyer is available — so can have a big influence on how the office is run and even a lawyer’s career.

Each of the three episodes focused on a different junior clerk who narrated (the episodes titled “Jake”, “Bethany” and “John”) so taking on aspects of anthology, and with some time perhaps between episodes. Jake is featured in “Jake”, is a significant supporting player in “Bethany”…yet is supposed to have quit the chambers by “John.”

And the result is quite strong. Tightly-paced and the different perspective on a legal drama providing a novel grist for stories — though it might be significant that arguably the strongest was “Bethany” which, in a way, hews the closest to being a more typical court room drama, as Bethany takes pity on a lawyer going through a slump (and whom the head clerk is deliberately trying to freeze out) and more actively helps him with his trial. But all three episodes are well acted and interesting dramas and, as I say, benefiting from utilizing the familiar legal milieu in an unfamiliar way.

And, as noted, I haven’t seen the TV series so although I’m sure familiarity with it would be a plus, in order to appreciate some of the background to the relationships, it’s certainly not essential since I still found the stories quite compelling.

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