"Do you think she'll get silk?"Silk
was a Law Procedural
produced by The BBC
, starring Maxine Peake and Rupert Penry-Jones. First aired in 2011, the show focuses on a group of London barristers, notably Martha Costello, who has had to fight her way up the ranks, and Clive Reader, who's got plenty of charm and cash. Both Martha and Clive want to become part of Queen's Counsel (called "taking silk"), but only one of them can get there. Add to this the scheming of senior clerk Billy, who sees everything that goes through chambers, and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster. Or, as it may happen, good television.
They all wear wigs and flowing gowns, and spend a lot
of time reading legal briefs.
The show ran for three reasons and concluded in March 2014; while it was announced at the time this was a decision to "go out on a high" by Peter Moffatt, however subsequent Twitter comments and a strange ending imply the BBC pulled the plug themselves.
This show provides examples of:
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Several of these. Martha, Clive, and the rest of the barristers have to take certain cases, even if they don't want to, either because the firm needs the business that the case could bring or because the barrister in particular needs to round out their resume.
- Also, a barrister has to take a brief unless they don't have the experience or don't have the time to give the brief the attention it deserves. It's called the "cab rank rule."
- For a specific example, a clerk from a rival chambers offers Clive the chance to abandon ship at his current firm to practice at an incredibly prestigious one instead. Turning it down would mean damaging his career.
- It's a set up designed to test Clive's loyalty to the firm. He fails miserably.
- Ascended Fridge Horror: Several times. Just because they get a "not guilty" verdict doesn't mean they're really free.
- One defendant in season two testifies against the criminal gang that forced him to commit assault, but is brutally killed for doing so.
- Another defendant, given a way out of his life as a male prostitute, goes right back to that life when released.
- Amoral Attorney: Although Martha seems to genuinely care about the guilt or innocence of her clients, the truth is that even the guiltiest defendants deserve a fair trial.
- Berserk Button: Hurt Martha and you'll have half of chambers banging on your door.
- Nick's known Martha for all of a day when he pushes Clive down a flight of stairs for fighting with Martha at a company party.
- Hurt any of Martha's clients and you'll have Martha banging on your door.
- Butt Monkey: Jake, the junior clerk.
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: Billy doesn't blackmail Clive, but it's pretty clear that Clive could lose his job, so it's blackmail.
- Britain Is Only London: Justified as Truth in Television. Trial-wise, all the action's in London.
- Blue Blood: Clive went to Oxford, and Niamh, his pupil, is the daughter of a judge.
- Cliffhanger: The final episode of season 3 and of the season ends with Martha disappearing, Billy collapsing and a supergrass apparently about to be shot.
- Dirty Cop: Yep, this happens too.
- Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Deconstructed. Many of Martha's clients are good people caught in shitty situations, but not all of them: she also defends the probably guilty and sometimes prosecutes the probably innocent, and has to deal with the ethical issues such cases present.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Doubly subverted. Martha finds out she's pregnant, books an abortion, but changes her mind nearly two episodes later. Followed up with a Convenient Miscarriage later on.
- Hello, Attorney!: Downplayed. There are attractive attorneys (Natalie Dormer!), but none of them exist solely to be hot.
- Hidden Depths: Clive starts out as a Jerk Ass, but becomes more developed as the show goes on. The second season in particular seems to be about Clive's character development, where the first season focused more on Martha.
- Hollywood Law: Subverted, since writer Peter Moffatt was actually a barrister, but the characters do tend to ask witnesses questions without knowing the answers in advance, a big no in the real world.
- The exception would be Nick and Niamh, the trainees, who are still finding their way around the courtroom and therefore expected to do this.
- Not So Omniscient After All: Billy. It's tough when he finds out that the firm is conspiring to get rid of him, after he's devoted twenty years to it.
- N-Word Privileges: The defense of a police woman accused of racist conduct is related to this.
- Patriotic Fervor: "This is England" is frequently cited as a reason for doing things.
"You can't kill unborn puppies. I mean, this is England!"
"This is the British army we're talking about here."
- Oop North: Martha and her trainee, Nick, are both from the North of England, although it's not specified where.
- Token Minority: Kate, and then George in season two.
- Justified as Truth in Television. The bar is overwhelmingly male and wealthy - Martha's being from Manchester is already a break from the norm.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Everywhere.
- Took a Level in Badass: Nick, as far as badass in the courtroom goes. Starts off as the young trainee from Oop North who can't afford his casebooks and totally fumbles the cases he's given, but by the end of the series he wins a case despite leaving his notes in the bathroom and figures out how to solve his mentor's case as well.
- In the second season, Martha and Clive go through the process of hiring new trainee pupils - most of their interviewees are horribly inept or inarticulate. The fact that they chose Nick at all suggests that he was probably pretty good from the start, and that he had to get over his nerves.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil
- Rousing Speech: More or less every episode.
- World of Snark: Oh, yes.
"Are you trying to tell me that puppies need father figures too?"
"I sure as hell hope you know what you're doing, because I don't.''
- And this gem of an exchange:
Clive: "Don't flirt with your pupils, Martha."
Martha: "And don't fuck them, either."