Friday, September 16, 2011

Justice Starring Margaret Lockwood

In the United States it was not unusual for once popular movie stars to appear in their own television series. Jimmy Stewart starred in his own sitcom, The Jimmy Stewart Show, and in the mystery series Hawkins. Doris Day found herself starring in The Doris Day Show only a few years after she was the top star at the box office. It was not only in the United States that once popular movie stars headlined their own TV programmes, however, as it was also true of the United Kingdom. Margaret Lockwood, the top box office star in Britain in the Forties, starred in two television shows. The first was The Flying Swan with her daughter Julia. The second and more famous of Miss Lockwood's series was Justice. Justice ran from 1971 to 1974. Three series were made for a total of 39 episodes.

The origins of Justice can be found with two television programmes that aired on ITV in the late Sixties. One was the anthology series ITV Playhouse. On 14 July 1969 Margaret Lockwood starred in the teleplay "Justice is a Woman." Miss Lockwood played barrister Julia Stanford, who must defend a young man accused of murder. "Justice is a Woman" would serve as the inspiration for Justice. The other series that would lead to Justice was the programme The Main Chance. The Main Chance starred John Stride as solicitor David Main, who leaves London to set up his own practice in his hometown of Leeds. Produced by Yorkshire Television, the show proved very popular. In fact, it was so popular that Yorkshire Television's head of drama, Peter Willes, decided to gamble on another legal drama. He assigned legal consultant John Batt, writers Edmund Ward and James Mitchell, and directors John Frankau and Christopher Hodson, to the new Yorkshire Television legal drama, Justice.

Although inspired by the teleplay "Justice is a Woman," Justice was not a continuation of it. On Justice Margaret Lockwood played Harriet Peterson, who must work as a barrister for a living after her husband is sent to prison. Like David Main on The Main Chance, Harriet worked the northern court circuit in the first series of Justice. Romantic interest on the series was provided by Dr. Ian Moody, played by Miss Lockwood's real life partner John Stone.  For the second series of Justice she moved to London and the cast of the programme grew as well. Added to the show were empty headed secretary Rose, clerk bill, and head of chambers Sir John Gallagher. The third series would see one more character added, that of barrister James Elliot.

While each episode saw Harriet defend someone accused of a crime, her clients and cases could vary greatly. One week she might defend someone accused of drunk driving, while the next week she might have a case involving international espionage. Her clients ranged from average, middle class Englishmen to Greek shipping magnates. Her relationship with Dr. Ian Moody, very much on again and off again, provided subplots running throughout the series. By the final episode Harriet had been made a Queen's Counsel. She also finally accepted one of Dr. Moody's marriage proposals.

Justice has been repeated a few times since its original run went off the air in 1974. In the Nineties it was rerun on Carlton Select and Bravo. Sadly, it has never aired in the United States. In fact, I rather suspect most of Miss Lockwood's fans have never seen any of her work on British television. I know I would very much like to, particularly Justice. Sadly, Justice has not yet been released on DVD. If it is ever released on DVD, I rather suspect it will only be available in Region 2. Having never aired in the United States, it is very doubtful that it would be released in Region 1.

Regardless, Justice was a bit of a last hurrah for Margaret Lockwood. Following the end of the programme's run, Miss Lockwood would appear only one more time on screen, playing the stepmother in the film The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella (1976).  In some respects it would be fitting that Justice would be her last well known work. From all reports in many ways Harriet Peterson was very much like the roles Miss Lockwood had played on film: strong minded, independent, and intelligent.

1 comment:

iarla said...

some episodes are up on you tube right now, if you still wish to see them!