Last night's viewing - The Jury, ITV1; The Growing Pains of a Teenage Genius, BBC3

 

Julie Walters overacts wildly in Peter Morgan's latest television drama. She's hammy, melodramatic, and goes so far over the top at times that it's a wonder she doesn't black out from oxygen deprivation. Fortunately, there's an explanation. She's wearing a horsehair wig at the time of the most grievous offences, playing a defence barrister in The Jury.

And, as anybody who's ever watched a courtroom drama should know, hamminess is as integral to adversarial law as precedents and cross-examination. It's one of the reasons that courtroom drama works so well, because the setting itself is framed for unexpected reversals and histrionic confrontations. Add a jury to the mix – with its random biopsy slice of the national character – and you have the perfect armature for a strip-scheduled series that might just blow a hole in the opposition's week.

Morgan did the first series of The Jury in 2002 and, though it was well reviewed and popular, ITV didn't ask him for a second one quite quickly enough. He's spent the intervening years whiling away his time with projects such as The Queen and Frost/Nixon and returns not as a jobbing television dramatist but as an award-winning screenwriter, a fact that inevitably raises expectations a little. And though it's a little too early too say whether The Jury will successfully tug audiences all the way through to Friday, its first episode had as many baited hooks on it as a mackerel line. The case in question is a retrial – the conviction of a serial killer having been overturned by the Court of Appeal. So now Alan Lane is back in court – sporting a crucifix and the sorrowful demeanour of a legal martyr – to have a fresh jury decide whether he killed three women he met on an online dating site.

As the jury selection letters were dropping through letterboxes, Morgan had a fictional justice secretary on the Today programme, ripping into the inefficiencies of trial by jury. Morgan, one takes it, doesn't share that view... but if he's seeking to defend the institution, he's going about it in a rather odd way, with a startling number of his jurors in some difficulties when it comes to a dispassionate analysis of the evidence. One of them is actually breaking the law, having been sent by her PR boss as a ringer because she's in the middle of a big business deal. Another is a hunched young Asian boy whose parents keep talking anxiously about his "condition", while Jodhi May, a young teacher, is taking refuge from a classroom romance that could actually put her on a sex offenders register if it's discovered. There's also a male juror whose main preoccupation seems to be finding the nearest tanning parlour, a Sudanese refugee killing time while he waits for an American visa and a lonely trophy wife flirting with the idea of going online herself.

Morgan provides some nice tart exchanges for Walters and her legal opponent (Roger Allam) when they're outside the court, but I'm not quite as sure about the legal speeches, which – even allowing for the thwarted thespianism of barristers – seem more likely to make jurors giggle than change their minds. But with a tantalising stack of questions that need answering (guilty or not guilty? Who's the weird woman who appears to be stalking one of the jurors? What's with the tanning?), forensic plausibility may matter less than sheer curiosity. It's started well, and it would be premature to declare a mistrial at this stage.

The Growing Pains of a Teenage Genius was about Cameron, aged 13, whose maths skills are considerable but isn't too confident with the human stuff. He has Asperger's and, as he put it, has "the social ability of a talking potato". Quite a charming potato, though, and, by the end of Barnaby Coughlin's lovely film, also a potato who appeared to have a girlfriend in the offing. She's very, very keen on Doctor Who, but I think Cameron sees that as a plus.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Top of the class: Iggy Azalea and the catchy ‘Fancy’
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map