David Tennant plays hot-shot successful barrister Will Burton in this three-part drama, the first episode of which was on BBC1 last night. Specialising in defence work, he’s never lost a case even though he knows this means that some guilty people are now walking free thanks to his efforts. He also knows his career has meant him neglecting his wife and son, which he tries to put right with cosy family trips to a country cottage and birthday parties at his swanky all-glass-and-concrete London home.
Then he gets extremely nasty suspected killer Liam Foyle to defend. It seems like an unwinnable case as there’s so much evidence against Foyle, but winning is Will’s middle name and he finds holes in the prosecution’s case and the trial collapses. Will knows that Foyle is guilty, though, so he doesn’t shake his hand.
And that’s where the horror begins. Foyle is apparently a man who doesn’t like being snubbed – frankly, he’s a complete psychopath – and he turns up at the Burtons’ holiday cottage and murders his (pregnant) wife. I don’t jump easily at things on TV, but I lost contact with my chair for a second when Foyle suddenly appeared at the bathroom window. This was even spookier when we discovered that the bathroom was on the first floor.
To further heap trouble on Will, Foyle is arrested and Will discovers that he’s going to be defended by Will’s old sparring partner, colleague and possibly ex-girlfriend Maggie (Sophie Okonedo), who resents always coming second to Will and fancies a go at defence work.
It was an interesting set-up with some genuinely scary moments. Toby Kebbell plays Foyle as a Michael Moon from EastEnders sort of psychopath – I kept seeing Steve John Shepherd in every twitch of the cheek and still, watchful pause. David Tennant is never less than brilliant. He started the episode all glossy and successful, and by the end he was a shattered, bereaved man finding the beliefs he’d formerly held at work (that everyone deserves a decent defence) coming back to haunt him.