Law & Order: UK

This article is about the 2009 adaptation of the US television series. For the 1978 BBC2 teleplays, see Law & Order (UK TV series).
Law & Order: UK
Created by Dick Wolf
Written by Various
Directed by Various
Starring Bradley Walsh
Jamie Bamber
Harriet Walter
Ben Daniels
Freema Agyeman
Bill Paterson
Dominic Rowan
Peter Davison
Paul Nicholls
Paterson Joseph
Georgia Taylor
Ben Bailey Smith
Sharon Small
Opening theme Law & Order London Theme
Ending theme Law & Order London Theme
Composer(s) Andy Price
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 8
No. of episodes 53 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Chris Chibnall
Bradley Walsh
Andrew Woodhead
Stephen Garrett
Dick Wolf
Jane Featherstone
Producer(s) Richard Stokes (series 1-6)
Jane Hudson (series 7)
Location(s) London, United Kingdom
Running time 45 mins (without adverts)
Production company(s) Kudos Film and Television
Wolf Films
Universal Television
Original network ITV
Picture format 16:9: 1080i (HDTV)
Original release 23 February 2009 (2009-02-23) – 11 June 2014 (2014-06-11) (indefinite break)
Related shows Law & Order (franchise)
External links

Law & Order: UK is a British police procedural and legal television programme, adapted from the American series Law & Order. Financed by the production companies Kudos Film and Television, Wolf Films, and Universal Media Studios,[1] the series originally starred Bradley Walsh and Ben Daniels, though the latter was succeeded by Dominic Rowan. This is the first American drama television series to be adapted for British television,[2] while the episodes are adapted from scripts and episodes of the parent series.

Series 1 was broadcast in 2009. In June 2014, broadcaster ITV and producer Kudos issued a joint press release announcing that series 8 would be "the last to be transmitted for the foreseeable future".[3]


In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police who investigate crime, and the Crown Prosecutors who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

          Opening narration spoken by Robert Glenister.

Law & Order: UK is a British adaptation of the American Law & Order franchise, one of the most successful brands in American primetime television.[1] Law & Order: UK is based in London and duplicates the episode format of the original series.

The first half focuses on the perpetration of a crime and the related police investigation typically culminating in an arrest, while the second half follows the legal and court proceedings in an effort to convict the suspect.[4] The show dwells little on the characters' back-stories or social lives, focusing mainly on their lives at work.[5]

The police portion

For most of Law & Order: UK's run, the cold open or lead-in of the show began with the discovery of a crime, usually a murder. The scene typically began with a slice of everyday life in London, (usually the scene would be the same as the US version of the episode but with a British institution instead, e.g. A British fish and chip shop instead of an American coffee shop). Some civilians would then discover the crime victim, or sometimes the crime would occur in a public place and they would be a witnesses or a victim of a crime.

The police are represented in the show by Metropolitan Police Force Murder Investigation Unit, with two Criminal Investigation Department (CID) detectives, a senior detective sergeant (DS) and a junior detective sergeant (DS), who report directly to their boss, a detective inspector (DI) or detective chief inspector (DCI). During the preliminary crime scene examination, the featured detectives make their first observations and will come up with theories followed by a witticism or two, before the title sequence begins.

The detectives often have few or no good clues — they might not even know the victim's identity — and must usually chase several dead ends before finding a likely suspect. They investigate the crime by collecting evidence at the crime scene (with the help of Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCOs)), visit the coroner or forensic pathologist for clues to the victim's cause and time of death (sometimes the victim's identity from dental records or fingerprints). The police will also inform relatives of the victim's death, interview witnesses, trace the victim's last known movements (by talking to the victim's family and friends). as well as visiting the crime laboratory for evidence (e.g. such as fingerprints, DNA and ballistics etc.), records and research for information on financial details and background information on both victim(s) and suspect(s). In some instances, psychologists and/or psychiatrists are called in for insight into the criminal's behaviour or modus operandi. All the while, the detectives report to their commanding officer, keeping them informed and being advised on how best to proceed next.

When the investigation leads to one or more suspects, the police will take the case to their boss, who decides if there is enough for a search and/or arrest warrants (though sometimes the commanding officer will consult with the CPS office to see if the case is strong enough) and whether or not any back-up (such as uniformed officers or armed police) is needed. The detectives will then arrest the suspects(s), with sometimes the police having to chase the accused through the streets of London. The scene then shifts to the interrogation room where the detectives interrogate the suspect(s), until they ask for a solicitor, their defence barristers show up and asks the suspect not to talk anymore or the Crown Prosecution Service decides they have enough to press charges.

The trial portion

Towards the middle of a show, the police will begin to work with the prosecutors to make the arrest, though sometimes the CPS team will on occasion appear early on to arrange a plea-for-information deal or to decide if the detectives have enough evidence for search warrant(s) and/or arrest warrant(s) before arresting the suspect or suspects and an arraignment scene will follow.

The matter then is taken over by a pair of crown prosecutors, a senior crown prosecutor (sometimes referred to as a Chief Crown Prosecutor) and a junior crown prosecutor (sometimes referred to as a Crown Advocate) from the office of the London Crown Prosecution Service. They discuss deals, prepare the witnesses and evidence, and conduct the Crown's case in the trial. The crown prosecutors work together and with the coroner's office, the crime laboratory (including Fingerprint analysts, DNA profilers and Ballistics analysts), and psychologists and/or psychiatrists (if the defendant uses an insanity plea) all of whom may be needed to testify in court for the prosecution. The police may also reappear to testify in court or to arrest another suspect, but most investigation in the second segment is done by the CPS office, who always consult with the local London CPS Director for advice on the case. If the case is very weak then the police would re-investigate.

Unlike many legal dramas (e.g. Kavanagh QC and Rumpole of the Bailey), the court proceedings are shown from the prosecution's point of view, with the regular characters trying to prove the defendant's guilt, not innocence. The second half usually opens with the arraignment of defendants and proceeds to trial preparation, including legal research and plea negotiations. Some episodes include legal proceedings beyond the testimony of witnesses, including motion hearings, (often concerning admissibility of evidence); jury selection; and allocutions, usually as a result of plea bargains. Many episodes employ motions to suppress evidence as a plot device, and most of these end with evidence or statements being suppressed, often on a technicality. This usually begins with the service of the motion to the CPS team, follows with argument and case citations of precedent before a judge in court, and concludes with visual reaction of the winning or losing attorney.

Many episodes use outlandish defence scenarios such as Diminished responsibility (e.g. "Genetics"/"Television"/"God"/"the devil made me do it" and intoxication defence) and Temporary insanity (Ie "Black Rage"/"White Rage"/"Sports Rage"). Also episodes revolve around moral and ethical debates including the right to die (euthanasia), the right to life (abortion) and the right to bear arms (gun control). The episode usually ends with the verdict being read by the jury foreperson and a shot of both the winning and losing parties. The scene then shifts to the Crown Prosecution Service London office where the team is leaving the office to go home while contemplating either the true guilt of the accused, the defence scenarios they used or the moral or ethical debate of the episode.


One of the distinguishing features of Law & Order is a black-and-white intertitle card, which gives the description of the time, date and setting of each scene. This intertitle is the first title from "Care".

Law & Order: UK was first imagined by franchise creator Dick Wolf in 2000; however, at the time, no network was willing to pick up a pilot for the series.[6] Wolf managed to attract scriptwriter Chris Chibnall, who had previously worked on British productions Torchwood, Life on Mars and Born and Bred, to write a series of 13 adaptions from the original Law & Order series. Wolf then asked Chibnall to look through the Law & Order Bible, a book released in the United States containing a collection of synopses for every episode. Chibnall picked 13 episodes that could be adapted for British television, watched the originals on DVD, and then wrote the adaptations to accommodate contractual requirements with production company Kudos, and to build on the show's reputation of successful storytelling. Subsequently, the series was picked up by ITV. One of the episodes Chibnall adapted, however, had to be scrapped because of incompatibility with English law, resulting in a different episode being adapted.[6] Wolf then attracted producer Richard Stokes to the series, but he stated that a 13-episode series would be too long for broadcast on British television, and thus, he separated the 13 scripts into two separate series. Wolf, however, objected to this, claiming that it wouldn't be an issue, as each series in the United States contains 22 episodes per series. Wolf pushed ITV for more episodes per series, but his attempt was unsuccessful. Each of the 13 scripts was updated for contemporariness, and while the difficulties of adapting the scripts for the English legal system exceeded the expectations of the production team, Stokes opined that audiences familiar with both shows would enjoy them for their distinctions. Further series have continued to adapt scripts from the original Law & Order series. Many of the familiar hallmarks of the original Law & Order series were carried through into the adaptation, including the styling of the opening music, black-and-white intertitles, using Wolf's signature "clanging cell door" sound, and hand-held camera work. Stokes later expressed his praise for the Kudos' method of "guerrilla filming" on the streets of London. Wolf later described the biggest difference between the two series as the wigs, claiming, "The law is not really that dissimilar and, you know, murder is murder."[7][8]

Cast changes

In August 2012, ITV announced that they had renewed the show for an eight-episode seventh series. Due to other commitments, neither Harriet Walter nor Freema Agyeman returned, and they were replaced by Paterson Joseph and Georgia Taylor in the roles of Detective Inspector Wes Layton and Junior Crown Prosecutor Kate Barker respectively.[9] On 27 February 2013, it was confirmed that Paul Nicholls who plays Detective Sergeant Sam Casey would be leaving the series in the sixth episode of Series 7.[10] On 8 April 2014, it was confirmed that Paterson Joseph, who plays Detective Inspector Wes Layton, would be leaving the series, with his character to be killed off in episode 7 of series 8.[11] He was replaced by Sharon Small as DI Elizabeth Flynn in episode 8. On 3 June 2014, ITV confirmed that Bradley Walsh had declined a contract option to return for a ninth series, simultaneously the show was retired indefinitely.[12]


Series 1-4 (2009-2011)

The first four series of Law & Order: UK starred Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber and Harriet Walter, Ben Daniels, Freema Agyeman and Bill Paterson. Each commission consisted of thirteen-episode seasons to be broken up in 6-7 episode series. Series one was broadcast in February 2009 and concluded in March 2009 with seven episodes being broadcast. The second series followed in January 2010 and consisted of six episodes. The series was renewed for another thirteen episodes and the first seven were broadcast as series three in September 2010. The remaining six were broadcast in March 2011 as series four. The first major cast departures came at the end of the fourth series, with Ben Daniels and Bill Paterson leaving the series. Walsh, Bamber, Walter, and Agyeman all remained in their roles.

Series 5-6 (2011-2012)

The next series was broadcast in July 2011 and saw Jamie Bamber leave in the fifth series finale. Dominic Rowan and Peter Davison joined the main cast, replacing Daniels and Paterson. The next seven episodes were broadcast in January 2012 as series six, and saw Paul Nicholls join the cast as Sergeant Sam Casey. Jamie Bamber made his final uncredited appearance in the first episode of the series, in both flashback and photograph. It was later announced along with the commission of a seventh series that Harriet Walter and Freema Agyeman would depart off-screen, thus this was the final season to feature them as part of the regular cast.

Series 7-8 (2013-2014)

The departures of Walter and Agyeman meant that Bradley Walsh was the only remaining cast member who had appeared from the first episode. A seventh series of six episodes aired from 14 July 2013, after being filmed in November 2012.[13] The seventh series, broadcast eighteen months after the sixth series, won its time slot for all six episodes.[14] Georgia Taylor and Paterson Joseph joined the main cast, while Paul Nicholls departed during the final episode of the series. On 28 June 2013, Bradley Walsh confirmed on This Morning that an eighth series had been commissioned and would start filming in October 2013. ITV later confirmed that Law & Order: UK would return in 2014 with an eight episode series, and that Ben Bailey Smith had been cast as DS Joe Hawkins who replaces Paul Nicholls as DS Sam Casey.[14] The series began airing in the UK on 12 March 2014.[14] Paterson Joseph departed the main cast in the penultimate episode of the series, and was replaced by Sharon Small as Inspector Elisabeth Flynn. Former cast member Harriet Walter returned for a single-episode guest appearance.

In June 2014, broadcaster ITV and producer Kudos issued a joint press release announcing that series 8 would be "the last to be transmitted for the foreseeable future".[3]


Originally commissioned as a single series of thirteen episodes, episodes 1–7 were transmitted as series one, broadcast in 2009, and episodes 8–13 were transmitted as series two, broadcast in 2010. A second run of thirteen episodes was commissioned in 2010, with episodes 1–7 being transmitted as series three, broadcast in 2010, and episodes 8–13 being transmitted as series four, broadcast in 2011. A third run of thirteen episodes was commissioned in October 2010, with episodes 1–6 being transmitted as series five, broadcast in 2011, and episodes 7–13 being transmitted as series six, broadcast in 2012. In August 2012, ITV commissioned a seventh series made up of eight episodes.

In Canada and the United States, for series 1-6, each thirteen-episode run was transmitted as a single series, meaning a total of three seasons had been broadcast through 2012.[15] In 2013, the 6-episode series 7 was broadcast as season 4 in the US, a month after the UK broadcast. No date has been announced for the US broadcast of series 8.

On 30 April 2014, the final episode of Series 8 was due to air at 9:00 but was pulled from broadcast hours prior due to the storyline's similarity to the murder of British teacher Ann Maguire[16] in the same week. The episode was shown on the later date of 11 June 2014.[17]


Filming on the first series of Law & Order: UK began in January 2008,[18] and at the time, discrepancies were identified by cast member Jamie Bamber, who in an interview with Variety magazine, claimed "if things are to continue the way they do, it's likely we won't get a second series."[19] However, ITV commissioned a further thirteen episodes, and filming began in the third quarter of 2009.[20] These episodes were subsequently broadcast from 9 September 2010.[21] For the Law part of the series, frequent filming on-location around London takes place, while for the Order part, filming around the exterior of the Old Bailey takes place concurrently on Sundays. Filming of the courtroom interior, police station office and the Crown Prosecution Service office takes place on a specially built set on a disused Ministry of Defence base in Qinetiq,[22] based near the M25 motorway in Surrey.[23] The police station set was specifically designed with an eye for realism; with personal items on each of the desks, and an ironing board and clean shirts being placed around for the eventuality of police officers heading to court. The campus of University College London, including the main quadrangle and the cloisters, was used for the basis of filming for scenes aired in series six.[7]


The original cast of Law & Order: UK consisted of Bradley Walsh as Sergeant Ronnie Brooks, Jamie Bamber as Sergeant Matt Devlin, and Harriet Walter as Inspector Natalie Chandler, Ben Daniels as Prosecutor James Steel, Freema Agyeman as Solicitor Alesha Phillips, and Bill Paterson as Director George Castle. Bamber was subsequently replaced by Paul Nicholls as Sergeant Sam Casey, and later Ben Bailey-Smith as Sergeant Joe Hawkins, while Walter was succeeded by Paterson Joseph as Inspector Wes Layton, and Sharon Small as Inspector Elisabeth Flynn. Similarly, both Georgia Taylor and Dominic Rowan would succeed Agyeman and Daniels, respectively, as Prosecutors Kate Barker and Jake Thorne, whilst Paterson was succeeded by Peter Davison, as Director Henry Sharpe.

Original cast member Walsh left the cast prior to a potential ninth series, though ITV's decision to place the show on hiatus after the series eight finale leaves Walsh's departure a moot point, and as such he remains the only actor to appear throughout the entire run of the series.



In the United Kingdom, Law & Order: UK is broadcast on ITV with repeats of the series airing on sister channel ITV3. In Ireland, TV3 broadcasts each episode a day after the British airing, however, the series is billed as Law and Order: London to distinguish itself from the original American series.[24]

In Canada, City began broadcasting the series on 11 June 2009[25] and in Australia, Network Ten began broadcasting the series in August 2009.[26][27] It was later moved to 13th Street, which will premiere the fifth season on February 4, 2015.[28]

In the United States, the series began broadcasting on BBC America on 3 October 2010 and since, Series 1-4 were shown back-to-back as were Series 5 and 6.[29][30] In the US, series 7 was broadcast as a 6-episode season 4; no date has been announced for the US broadcast of series 8/season 5.

The series also broadcasts in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and New Zealand.[31]


Independent writer Robin Jarossi, who attended a special preview of the premiere episode at the British Film Institute in London on 5 February 2009, praised the uniquely British take on the franchise for balancing the new vision while maintaining the proven Law & Order formula. Jarossi specifically extolled the unexpected casting of Bradley Walsh, the excellent use of their London backdrop, and Chibnall's adaptation of the show.[32] John Boland of the Irish Independent compared Law & Order: UK to the original, ultimately deciding that the former is just as engrossing as the latter, if its tone is slightly more jocular. Boland expects ITV "has a winner on its hands."[33] Andrew Billen from The Times expects the series to be successful based on the premiere episode,[34] and TV Times said that "those concerned can give themselves a pat on the back because this really, really works."[35] The Daily Express' Matt Baylis described the new series as "a breath of fresh air", and the Daily Mirror said "It’s all highly professional and heroic."[2]

Variety magazine called the series a hit, quoting NBC Universal as saying, "'Law and Order' has won its slot every week and is actually increasing its ratings." While Radio Times reviewer Alison Graham felt the series' execution was adequate, she criticised its pacing and writing; the former for not matching that of the original Law & Order programmes, and the latter for "falling headfirst into a typically British legal-drama trap of the noble prosecutor, crusading to bring the guilty to justice while pitted against the louche, self-serving defence barrister."[36] Whereas, on the other hand, The Guardian's Sarah Dempster didn't feel that using the original series' camera work and stylings was appropriate for British crime drama: "Fiddly. And wrong.".[2] However, later on in the series' run The Observer's Kathryn Flytt writes that despite her initial prejudices, the series "seems to have absorbed the pace and energy of the original without looking too tricksily derivative".[37] In Australia, Melinda Houston commented favourably in The Age on the show's opening series, opining that the fusion between British crime drama and the US Law & Order franchise is like "a match made in Heaven."[38] The premiere episode which aired on 12 August 2009, only rated 775,000 viewers, and was outside the top 15 rated shows for that period.[39]

Barrister Caroline Haughey, a self-confessed crime junkie, said that "Law and Order UK" made her cry:

"the relationship between the officers and CPS was reasonably fair; however, the conduct of the Crown Prosecution Advocate in his talking directly to defendants and offering plea bargains was a step too far. Law And Order State Side is excellent, but the translation of that justice system into our own jurisdiction is not really possible – CPS lawyers do NOT invite defendants to CPS HQ, and do not run their own investigation."[40]

Home releases

Region 2

DVD Volume Release Date Episodes Additional Features
Series 1
(Episodes 1–7)
11 January 2010 7
  • Audio Commentary ("Care")
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Extended Scenes
  • Alternate Beginning ("Care")
  • Summing Up ("Vice")
  • CPS Set Tour
  • Interview with Jamie Bamber
  • Interview with Chris Chibnall
  • Interview with Bradley Walsh
  • Interview with Dick Wolf
Series 2
(Episodes 8–13)
22 February 2010 6
  • Audio Commentaries ("Samaritan", "Honour Bound")
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Extended Scenes
  • Police Set Tour
  • Interview with Harriet Walter
  • Interview with Richard Stokes
  • Interview with Robert Glenister
Series 3
(Episodes 14–20)
7 March 2011[41] 7
  • Audio Commentary ("Masquerade")
  • From Dawn 'Til Dusk: Featurette
Series 4
(Episodes 21–26)
11 July 2011[42] 6
  • Audio Commentary ("Help")
  • Gag Reel
Series 1–4
(Episodes 1–26)
11 July 2011 26
  • Interview with Freema Agyeman
  • Interview with Ben Daniels
  • Interview with Bill Paterson
  • Interview with Harriet Walter
  • Interview with Jamie Bamber
  • Interview with Bradley Walsh
  • Interview with Richard Stokes
  • Wardrobe Tour with Freema Agyeman
  • Tour Of Court Set with Freema Agyeman
Series 5
(Episodes 27–32)
6 February 2012[43] 6
  • Interview with Dominic Rowan[44]
  • Interview with Freema Agyeman[45]
  • Interview with Peter Davison[46]
Series 6
(Episodes 33–39)
2 April 2012[47] 7
  • Interview with Bradley Walsh[48]
  • Interview with Paul Nicholls[49]
  • Interview with Harriet Walter[50]
  • Interview with Richard Stokes
Series 7
(Episodes 40-45)
7 October 2013[51] 6
  • Behind the Scenes of the Train Crash

Region 1

DVD title Release date Episodes Additional information
Season One
(Episodes 1–13)
26 October 2010 13
  • Audio Commentaries
    ("Care", "Samaritan" & "Honour Bound")
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Extended Scenes
  • Alternate Beginning ("Care")
  • Summing Up ("Vice")
  • CPS Set Tour
  • Police Set Tour
  • Interview with Jamie Bamber
  • Interview with Chris Chibnall
  • Interview with Bradley Walsh
  • Interview with Dick Wolf
  • Interview with Harriet Walter
  • Interview with Richard Stokes
  • Interview with Robert Glenister
Season Two
(Episodes 14–26)
22 November 2011[52] 13
  • Audio Commentaries ("Masquerade" & "Help")
  • From Dawn 'Till Dusk: Featurette
  • Gag Reel


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  31. Boland, John (28 February 2009). "You have the right to remain brilliant...". Irish Independent. Dublin: Independent News & Media. Retrieved 16 March 2010. I found this first UK instalment just as engrossing as its American counterpart, with Bradley Walsh an engaging London version of Jerry Orbach and Bill Paterson a striking crown prosecutor. Yet the overall tone is subtly different, a bit more jokey and a bit more sentimental, too, as evidenced in the somewhat treacly score and in some forced attempts at poignancy. But the action moves along smartly and i'll be surprised if ITV doesn't have a winner on its hands here.
  32. Andrew Billen (24 February 2009). "Law & Order; The Real Casino Royale; Maradona - In the Hands of the Gods". Times Online. London.
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  36. Melinda, Houston (12 August 2009). "TV highlights, August 12". The Age. Melbourne, Australia: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 16 March 2010. It's all been tweaked just enough to be refreshing, not enough to be alienating. Plus, of course, it brings together two great television traditions: the large and distinguished school of British crime drama and the venerable 20-year history of the Law & Order franchise. It looks—and feels—like a match made in heaven.
  37. Seven - Daily Ratings Report, eNews, 13 August 2009.
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  44. "LAW & ORDER | UK - PETER DAVISON | British Board of Film Classification". Retrieved 2013-12-13.
  45. "Episodes 33–39".
  46. "LAW & ORDER | UK - BRADLEY WALSH | British Board of Film Classification". Retrieved 2013-12-13.
  47. "LAW & ORDER | UK - PAUL NICHOLLS | British Board of Film Classification". Retrieved 2013-12-13.
  48. "LAW & ORDER | UK - HARRIET WALTER | British Board of Film Classification". Retrieved 2013-12-13.
  49. "Law & Order: UK - Series 7 [DVD] [2013]". Retrieved 10 July 2013.
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External links

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