TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Playing the justice game

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The Independent Culture
Garth Crooks follows in the honourable tradition of Frank Bruno and Ian Botham by becoming a sportsman who acts. Unlike his predecessors, however, Crooks eschews the jokey panto role for for a rather more serious appearance. Part of the 'Crime and Punishment' season, IT'S A STITCH-UP (9pm BBC2) uses a game-show format to expose the weaknesses of the criminal justice system. Crooks plays an innocent man tied up in a web of misfortunes, who's bundled ito jail for murder. As gamesmaster- cum-judge, Ken Campbell presides over the tacky proceedings - flashing lights, tinny music and canned laughter - which are interspersed with expert testimony. The 'Lovely Samantha', a sequin-clad assistant, puts weights on the Scales of Justice for the defence and the prosecution - as presented by counsel Jill Gascoine and Simon Callow. And Barry Davies crops up commentating, Match of the Day- style, on the trial: 'So it's up to the referee to put the final boot in.' It's a Stitch-Up is unsubtle, but it makes its point. The producers will no doubt be hoping for the same avalanche of publicity that enveloped the spoof game-show about homelessness, Come On Down and Out.

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