A diff er­ent lo­ca­tion puts a fresh spin on some fa­mil­iar sto­ries – that’s what Guy Davis found when he checked out Law & Or­der: UK.

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If you’ve been any­where near a tele­vi­sion in the past two decades, there’s a good chance you’ve heard a state­ment that be­gins like this: “ In the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, the peo­ple are rep­re­sented by two sep­a­rate yet equally im­por­tant groups …”

Yes, most of us are fa­mil­iar with the open­ing spiel that pref­aces an episode of Law & Or­der. But wait a minute, here’s a new de­vel­op­ment: “ … the po­lice who in­ves­ti­gate crime and the Crown pros­e­cu­tors who pros­e­cute the off en­ders.”

Crown pros­e­cu­tors? What, you may well ask, hap­pened to the district at­tor­neys? Well, here’s the thing. Now that the ven­er­a­ble cop-show fran­chise has ex­plored pretty much ev­ery branch of the US lawen­force­ment sys­tem through its var­i­ous spin-off s, Law & Or­der has set off in search of new hori­zons.

Rus­sia and France have their very own Law & Or­der se­ries, and so does Bri­tain. Wel­come to Law & Or­der: UK. Doink-doink!

Part of the en­joy­ment of the Law & Or­der fran­chise stems from its sense of fa­mil­iar­ity. The cases the cops in­ves­ti­gate and the pros­e­cu­tors de­fend are many and var­ied, but the peo­ple en­forc­ing the law can be trusted to act world-weary but suitably out­raged, and re­al­is­tic but still ide­al­is­tic.

It’s a for­mula that has made the orig­i­nal Law & Or­der one of the long­est-run­ning tele­vi­sion dra­mas of all time, and it’s one that seems eas­ily adapted to any lo­cale. The ac­cents, the ad­dresses and a hand­ful of lo­cal cus­toms aside, Law & Or­der: UK could per­haps take place in any ma­jor city any­where in the world.

Bri­tish screen­writer Chris Chib­nall ( whose cred­its in­clude Torch­wood and Life on Mars) has been tasked with adapt­ing US Law aw & Or­der episodes for the Bri­tish se­ries. Stat­ing that he watched more than 100 episodes of the US orig­i­nal to come to grips with the show’s ap­proach, he said: “ I was looking for sto­ries that I con­nected with emo­tion­ally, that had great op­por­tu­ni­ties for char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion and felt rel­e­vant to Bri­tain to­day.”

Law & Or­der cre­ator Dick Wolf claims to be happy with Chib­nall’s work, say­ing that he felt the Lon­don-based show would be well­re­ceived by US au­di­ence and that he would “ love to do a cross­over be­tween the shows”.

There’s no deny­ing that Law & Or­der fans will take to the Bri­tish ver­sion, with changes that have been made to feel in­ter­est­ing and re­fresh­ing, not like a gim­mick. And the pool of Bri­tish tal­ent on both sides of the cam­era should give the show plenty to draw upon.

The reg­u­lar leads – Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bam­ber and Har­riet Wal­ter as the cops, Ben Daniels, Dr Who’s Freema Agye­man and Bill Pater­son as the pros­e­cu­tors – are all solid, al­though it’s odd for Bat­tlestar Galac­tica fans to hear that show’s all-Amer­i­can fi ghter pi­lot Bam­ber speak­ing in his usual ac­cent as De­tec­tive Sergeant Matt Devlin.

And the fi rst episode did off er the good guys a wor­thy ad­ver­sary in the form of Queen’s Coun­sel Robert Ri­d­ley ( Pa­trick Malahide), a sly, slick de­fence lawyer nick­named “ Lim­ber” – “ be­cause there’s noth­ing he won’t stoop to”.

Crown­ing glory: Jamie Bam­ber, Freema Agye­man, Bill Pater­son and Ben Daniels are over­see­ing the pro­ceed­ings in inset the lawyers gather in their cham­bers.

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