TV Review: We The Jury, BBC2

Of all the current BBC2 sitcom pilots this was the one I was looking forward to the most. When I heard that We The Jury was written by James Acaster I assumed it would be based on his 2015 Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated show about his time - quite possibly fictional - on a court case.

In fact this is - almost - a totally different plot/story/narrative and Acaster himself only has the briefest of cameos early on. The action here revolves around manchild justice obsessive William (Ed Easton) who finally gets what he has been dreaming of. His father was a juror and now it is his turn to do “one of the most important tasks known to humankind.”

The courtroom situation is always a fertile ground for comedy and this is no exception as we swiftly meet the other jurors, from mouse-like teacher Jen (Sophie Thompson) to militant poet also called Jen (Vivienne Acheampong), who to avoid confusion is immediately dubbed Wolf.

It soon becomes an ensemble piece with Diane Morgan chipping in as a sulky goth and Cuckoo’s Kenneth Collard popping up as someone who works in a bureau de change: “I just love currency”. The cast also includes familiar faces Oliver Maltman, David Schaal, Kae Alexander and Samson Kayo. And before you know it they are all bonding over beers in a club.

There is a lot going on here. In fact it turns out that the nuts and bolts of the trial are the least interesting plot strands. You have to feel sorry for Him & Her’s Ricky Champ, who plays the defendant and hardly has anything to do apart from stand in the dock and look guilty. The action actually homes in on the jury’s obsession with the skills of the courtroom artist and William’s tentative relationship with Fiona (Kerry Howard, obviously brilliant because she is always brilliant).

As one would expect from Acaster there are some gloriously well-chosen lines of dialogue. The tone is silly rather than naturalistic. Even something as simple as someone saying “don’t wave” becomes funny and there’s a neat moment towards the end when one of the previously silent jurors has an unexpected stand-out line. And shrewdly the inevitable reference to the movie 12 Angry Men is got out of the way early on. 

I’m not quite sure how this would spin off into a series though. Would we follow the whole case? Would we follow William or each juror? Or would it all start from scratch each week which would mean a heck of a lot of writing work to establish so many new characters every time. But as a one-off there is only one verdict. Excellent.

We The Jury is on iPlayer here.

Hello! Thanks for reading all the way down. I wish I could give you a prize. But BTJ needs your support to continue - if you would like to help to keep the site going, please consider donating.

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.