Judge Rin­der


It’s time to re­tire, Judge Judy, be­cause there’s a new Queen of the Dock in town. As Judge Rin­der, known to his friends sim­ply as Rob, wipes the court­room floor with his af­ter­noon telly com­pe­ti­tion, he talks to GT about how he went from ac­claimed bar­ris­ter to fa­mous face, and how deals with ho­mo­pho­bic Twit­ter rants

When Judge Rin­der first aired one Au­gust af­ter­noon last year, it be­came an in­stant rat­ings hit. Five days a week, almost two mil­lion of us tune in to watch flam­boy­ant bar­ris­ter Rob Rin­der ad­ju­di­cat­ing over real, small-claim cases in a stu­dio court­room. But it’s the le­gal bea­gle’s caus­tic wit and scathing one lin­ers that have view­ers hooked as much as the cases he tries. Has tele­vi­sion al­ways been part of your plan, Judge? Ab­so­lutely not! But I didn’t want my ca­reer to be about just one thing, as that can get pretty bor­ing. I was writ­ing scripts along­side a pro­duc­tion company and sug­gest­ing var­i­ous ideas. Then I was in­tro­duced to the se­ries pro­ducer of this show and six months later we started shoot­ing. There’s no in­ten­tion of cre­at­ing a pan­tomime, it’s an au­then­tic show. Of course there’s an el­e­ment of drama, but cases are treated ex­actly as they would be in a small claims court. How have your col­leagues re­acted to your sud­den fame? The vast majority have been pretty good about it. If any­body is ever snobby or su­per­cil­ious, I point them to­wards the show’s Twit­ter feed which, leav­ing aside the odd mo­ment of ho­mo­pho­bia, proves we have trig­gered real con­ver­sa­tions about law. We fea­ture sub­jects that af­fect every­body’s lives. What kind of on­line ho­mo­pho­bia have you ex­pe­ri­enced? I must point out that 98% of tweets are pos­i­tive, but there’s a re­ally small num­ber of peo­ple who’ve posted ho­mo­pho­bic com­ments and, in some in­stances, quite threat­en­ing ho­mo­pho­bia. I’m sat­is­fied that it’s never tres­passed into in­cite­ment of a crim­i­nal of­fence, though. What do you think of the peo­ple be­hind those posts? I used to de­fend th­ese kind of peo­ple, it was my job and so I al­ways feel ter­ri­bly sorry for them. No­body who’s ho­mo­pho­bic is a happy in­di­vid­ual, and there’s some so­lace in the fact they must’ve spent hours spell­ing their nasty tweets cor­rectly. Would you ever con­sider tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against them? It’d have to go very far into the realms of a crim­i­nal of­fence, like in­cite­ment to cause vi­o­lence, be­fore I’d follow it up. If you place your­self in the pub­lic eye you have to face the fact you can be the tar­get of crit­i­cism and of fools. I’m a free speech kind of guy, it’s what has helped us get gay rights over the years. And that free speech ex­tends to some of the most appalling, unimag­in­ably wicked and mo­ronic peo­ple who have to be cov­ered by the same pro­tec­tion. How do you feel about The Daily Mail de­scrib­ing you as a camp cross be­tween Paul O’Grady and Si­mon Cow­ell? Well I could do worse than that, couldn’t I? The campery of the show is slightly more con­cen­trated be­cause the cases are edited down. But my prob­lem is I go through life not know­ing who any celebrity is. I thought Rita Ora was a clair­voy­ant. How has the gay com­mu­nity re­sponded to you? I have no idea! It’s not like we all at­tend a sin­gle meet­ing where I can get a ‘well done on your show.’ But I haven’t had any neg­a­tive re­sponse or con­cern that I’ve done some­thing to em­bar­rass the com­mu­nity. You mar­ried your part­ner Seth in 2013. How did that change your re­la­tion­ship? We’d been to­gether for nine years be­fore we got mar­ried and when you go through prac­ti­cal dif­fi­cul­ties or any kind of chal­lenges, mar­riage gives you a dif­fer­ent level of se­cu­rity. It gives you a sense of calm per­ma­nence. It so­lid­i­fies things in a way that pro­vides you with se­cu­rity and makes com­plex­i­ties that go on in our lives less trou­bling. As a bar­ris­ter, you must be a con­fi­dent man. Did that ex­tend to your TV de­but? Be­cause I love do­ing the show so much and the peo­ple in­volved have such en­thu­si­asm, I was des­per­ate for it to work, so I was ner­vous the first day it went out. Then I just got on with my life and pre­tended it wasn’t hap­pen­ing! I hoped that peo­ple would re­ally re­spond to it. And do you watch your own shows? I have been watch­ing, as it’s im­por­tant for me to be able to bet­ter frame my judg­ment. At first there was that stom­ach drop­ping con­cern that I can’t pos­si­bly have spent close to 40 years sound­ing like that and then mo­ments that had me reach­ing for some­thing sharp. Is your ca­reer as bar­ris­ter now on hold? I’m not giv­ing up my day job soon, but I’ve had to wind down some of the work I did. I couldn’t start gal­li­vant­ing around the world in the way that I used to, but I still keep my hand in and I’ve some on­go­ing cases. It’s im­por­tant for me to con­tinue to be au­then­tic. There are ob­vi­ous com­par­isons to your show and Judge Judy’s. What do you think of the com­pe­ti­tion? Her le­gal judg­ments are ab­so­lutely im­pec­ca­ble. I’ve never seen her get it wrong. The dif­fer­ence is our show is an hour long and you get to see the real nar­ra­tives emerge, but they don’t have the time for it on her show. She has a def­i­nite opin­ion straight away. When I get the state­ments and cases be­fore­hand, I’ll have a strong sense, but of­ten it changes through­out the course of the case as the story emerges. I al­ways ap­proach two sides of the story with a gen­uinely open mind. You’ve be­come fa­mous for your witty one lin­ers and scathing put downs… Yes and the only time I’ve truly got up­set about some­thing on Twit­ter was when some­one tweeted that I didn’t write my own lines! I ab­so­lutely do and they’re com­pletely spon­ta­neous!


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