The Brief, ITV1

by | Apr 25, 2004 | All, Reviews

After Henry Framer (Alan Davies) arrived for work on a bicycle, it was obvious he was the good guy of this new legal drama series. Cyclists care for the environment, are individualistic and are also hard working as they spurn the lazy option of automobiles. By contrast, his soon-to-be boss the icy Cleo (the brilliant Cherie Lunghi) arrived at chambers in an expensive sports car.

But later, his need to pay off gambling debts necessitated him being in three courts at once so he was forced to use a Ferrari driven by chief clerk Ray Scanlon (Christopher Fulford), showing that he will bend his own morality to achieve his goals.

For the main part, Henry and supporting cast were subtly characterised. At the wake for the recently deceased head of chambers, later succeeded by Cleo, Henry kissed his married lover Polly. But her husband had been watching and quietly warned him not to conduct the affair in public as though complicit in the liaison. It was later revealed he was a homosexual MP who tolerated his wife’s affairs so long as she stayed with him until he died of terminal cancer in order to preserve his reputation. Henry’s devotion to her was shown when his drunkard father, a judge, offered to smooth his path up the legal ladder if he avoided scandal and dumped Polly – a proposal which Henry refused.

The central plot in which Henry had to defend Sheila Coombs, a woman accused of killing her lover’s children by driving their car into an icy lake, seemed almost incidental. After Henry and Cleo, who was defending Liam Walsh, the dead children’s father, had agreed to claim the deaths were an accident, she doublecrossed him and tried to pin the blame on Sheila.

Almost inevitably, like an altruistic Sam Ryan in a grey wig, Henry set about solving the case for himself even though it meant neglecting his other more profitable work. And it’s here this legal drama became a little absurd. Henry visited the petrol station where Sheila and Liam had stopped just before the crash and obtained the CCTV footage that clinched the verdict he wanted. Yet it was not made clear why the police overlooked this obvious clue.

So he won the case, won over adversary Roy and even got congratulations from Cleo for solving the mystery of the children’s deaths. But she will probably be a thorn in his side for weeks to come, evidenced by her badgering of him for chambers fees, so that Alan Davies can prove he has more than tricks up his sleeve than Jonathan Creek.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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