The Jury: Julie Walters

Julie Walters as Emma Watts QC

WHAT will your verdict be?

Back in January 2002 I attended the launch of a new ITV1 drama series called The Jury.

Written by Peter Morgan, whose subsequent credits include The Last King Of Scotland, The Queen, Longford, The Other Boleyn Girl, Frost/Nixon, The Damned United and The Special Relationship.

Last week I attended the launch of a new ITV1 drama series also called The Jury.

Or what in the big screen world would be called The Jury 2.

Peter’s follow up to his original series.

He was there along with leading lady Julie Walters, who plays defence barrister Emma Watts.

Plus other cast members Steven Mackintosh, Sarah Alexander, Jodhi May and Aqib Khan.

Roger Allam as John Mallory QC.

This 2011 The Jury will be stripped at 9pm across five consecutive nights from Monday November 7.

With the stories of the 12 jurors as important as what goes on in court.

Where Alan Lane (John Lynch) is undergoing a re-trial after the Court of Appeal overturned his conviction for the murders of three women.

Roger Allam – whose CV includes Ashes To Ashes, The Thick Of It and much else – also stars as prosecution barrister John Mallory QC.

Having covered high profile cases at both the Appeal Court and the Old Bailey for the last 30 years, I was impressed with the authentic use of both locations.

Together with the actual court room interior, filmed in Kingston, Surrey.

And intrigued by both the first episode and series showreel we were shown afterwards.

“The Jury is first and foremost a story about individuals and the intimate circumstances of their lives,” said Peter.

“It is also – I hope – a compelling statement about the way we live in Britain in 2011, a reflection on who we are and what we have become, all framed within a court room drama.”

My first story on The Jury was published in the MEN last Saturday but was not available online.

So let’s put that right below:


HARRY Potter star Julie Walters has revealed how she turned down a dramatic off screen role at Manchester Crown Court.

The Oscar-nominated actress takes on her first ever legal character next month as a top barrister in ITV1 drama The Jury.

But Julie, 61, disclosed that she had a previous chance to play her part in court in Manchester but turned it down.

“I’ve never served on a jury,” explained the Mamma Mia! star, who studied English and Drama at Manchester Poly, now Manchester Metropolitan University.

“I was asked to do jury service when I was a student in Manchester. But I said, ‘No, I can’t do it. I’m in the middle of a production.’ And I got out of it.

“I can’t even remember what the production was now but I was in the middle of my course and thought I’d better get on with the role I was doing.

“I was quite interested and would love to have done it. And I’ve never been asked since.”

Julie sat in on murder trials at the Old Bailey and took tea with a judge as part of her research for the part of eminent QC Emma Watts.

“My only previous experience in court was 20 years ago when I was accused of driving through a red light, which I didn’t do.

“A policeman pulled me over and I said, ‘I didn’t go through the red light,’ then he asked for my autograph.’”

Her ex-policeman husband Grant encouraged Julie to fight the case in court and she later won, escaping any penalty.

By co-incidence, a female QC who spoke to the Billy Elliot star when she first visited the court to contest the allegation was chosen to advise her for the new five-part TV drama.

“She said, ‘You’re not a social worker. You’re there to win.’ And told me that most QCs have terrible hair because of the wigs.

“But I can’t imagine doing that job for real. That’s why it was so lovely to play Emma. Being able to be combative, articulate, cool and factual and ordered in your thinking – that’s just not me, I’m afraid.

“Being a barrister is a lot like acting because you’ve got to convince people of a truth of some sort. So it’s absolutely like performing.”

Julie’s long career has included regular starring roles alongside Bury-raised Victoria Wood in shows like Manchester-set Dinnerladies, Acorn Antiques and As Seen On TV.

But having recently played a string of serious roles, she has no immediate plans to return to comedy.

“No, not really. I don’t look for anything. I just see what comes in.”

Inside the Old Bailey.

ITV The Jury

Old Bailey

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