Criminal Justice returns to BBC One with Maxine Peake

maxine-peakMaxine Peake (Hancock And Joan, Red Riding) stars as Juliet Miller in this major new five-part thriller which takes an uncompromising and insightful look at our criminal justice system, but this time through the journey of one woman, made by BBC Drama Production for BBC One.

Peake leads an impressive cast that boasts some of Britain’s top acting talent including Matthew Macfadyen (Little Dorrit), Denis Lawson (Bleak House), Steven Mackintosh (England Expects) and Sophie Okonedo (Winnie Mandela, Tsunami: The Aftermath).

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, says: “The BAFTA-winning Criminal Justice returns to BBC One with another brilliantly original and bold story by Peter Moffat that takes a completely different crime and reveals the shocking and emotional impact it has on those involved.

“It is a stunning piece of work that shows a writer at the top of his game and has attracted a wonderful director in Yann Demange, and an incredible cast led by the glorious Maxine Peake.”

Joe Miller (Matthew Macfadyen) is a barrister at the height of his professional powers. He is married to Juliet (Maxine Peake) who suffers from depression. They have one daughter, 13-year-old Ella (Alice Sykes).

One night Joe is stabbed in his home. Life will never be the same again for the Miller family.

As fragile Juliet Miller travels through the criminal justice system under the constant scrutiny of police, prison and social services, questions of psychological and sexual abuse are raised.

She passes through the family courts and concludes her ordeal in a heart-rending denouement in the High Court.

Writer Peter Moffat says: “I feel passionately about our criminal justice system – what’s right about it and what’s wrong with it.

“When I’m asked why I wanted to do another Criminal Justice, the answer is almost embarrassingly simple: there’s so much to say and so many stories to tell.

“I can’t think of more natural territory for drama – moral problems, hard choices, complex ethical dilemmas, forensic exploration of character and, at the centre of everything, the purest form of story: guilty or not guilty?

“It’s a great opportunity as a writer to have five hours of television drama in which to get right underneath the way the system works and what happens to the people inside it. There’s no better medium for this than the small screen.

“Partly because I’m married to a former family law barrister, I have always wanted to write about the family courts. So many life changing decisions taken every day in a world which we know so little about.

“This drama brings together criminal law and family law in the story of a woman profoundly affected by both.”

Other cast members include: Denis Lawson as the visceral DCI Faber; Steven Mackintosh as DI Sexton, who believes he sees an open-and-shut case; and Sophie Okonedo as Jack, the committed and compassionate duty solicitor.

The first Criminal Justice broadcast in June 2008 to great critical acclaim and has since won the prestigious 2009 BAFTA award for Best Drama Serial and also gained newcomer Ben Whishaw the RTS Best Actor award, and a BAFTA nomination, for his portrayal of Ben Coulter.

Criminal Justice II reunites writer Peter Moffat with BBC Executive Producer Hilary Salmon.

She says: “When you get scripts as compelling and insightful as Peter Moffat’s first series of Criminal Justice you grab them gratefully, knowing that you might never get scripts as good as these again.

“It’s awesome to then be able to say that Peter’s written another journey through the system that’s just as powerful, just as revelatory and possibly more heart-breaking than the first.”

Criminal Justice II starts filming in and around London this month and is produced by Steve Lightfoot (House Of Saddam, Sorted). The first three episodes will directed by Yann Demange (Dead Set, Secret Diary Of A Call Girl).