Inspirations Episode 2, continued


Hope you enjoyed tonight’s episode.  All the links and text are on the bbc website

For collected documents about the real Captain Jones, and the debate his case caused in society, click here


18 Responses to Inspirations Episode 2, continued

  1. judith charters says:

    Wonderful, Wonderful show last night.

    Congratulations to all concerned.

  2. Erastes says:

    I really loved this episode. I – am many watchers of this comm and the show – am a writer of gay historicals and this era and homosexuality is utterly fascinating. It was wonderful to see something a little different on the screen with people who were trying to forge a relationship, no matter what the risk. The last line made me sob like a child. Wonderful stuff. I frankly could do without the love interest, but I know that’s what people like.

    • Mark Pallis says:

      Thanks Erastes. We really tried to give a sense of what it must have been like to live with these laws, and the sort of pressure it must have put on couples. It was a great last line wasn’t it!!

      All I can say on the love interest is wait and see! I don’t see it as a sideline myself, it is all based on real historical evidence and I for one was shocked when I first found out that women had no say in these sorts of actions – trespassing on a man’s wife was just like trespassing on his garden: a question of compensation for messing with property. Crazy!

  3. Owen Price says:

    Garrow- 18th century barrister, slavery abolitionist and champion of gay rights. His attitudes seem to have the uncanny ability of time travel. I’m aware that these programmes are loosely based on real events but I suspect the makers are going overboard with artistic licence. The result is soppy, sentimental mush that appeals to the sensibilities of the modern era and bears no reflection of the attitudes and realities of the age it purports to recreate.

    • Mark Pallis says:

      Dear Blog readers,

      Does Garrow’s Law “bear no reflection of the attitudes and realities of the age it purports to recreate”.

      On slavery, Garrow was indeed opposed to slavery and refused to defend slavers on principle.
      On burning of women, people were indeed shocked and the practice was banned by parliament during Garrow’s time.
      On gay rights, we don’t know Garrow’s opinions, but we do know that when he was a Judge he found a man not guilty of sodomy. In the episode, Garrow didn’t get into whether he agreed with sodomy or not, his main concern was winning his case. For those interested, try reading Jeremy Bentham’s article Offences Against Oneself where he argues that homosexuality should not be criminalised. You may recognise some echos of Betham’s points in the views expressed by Captain Jones. The striking thing was that owing to the climate at the time, Betham did not publish this essay during his lifetime.

  4. Owen Price says:

    Yes I find it perfectly credible that he was opposed to slavery, and that he found a man not guilty of sodomy. What I don’t accept is the idea that he would have such liberal views he would engage in cell room discussions with the accused about ‘a love that dare not speak its name’ and even equate this man’s experience with his own. The views expressed are more 2010 than 1780. Whilst I accept that Garrow’s law is drama, it needs to have some semblance of historical accuracy to maintain credibility.

  5. Mark Pallis says:

    Hi Owen,

    Thanks for your message. I think the bit you’re talking about is where Garrow and Jasker chat in the prison cell ( around 13 minutes in).

    For me, Garrow is talking about himself more than anything else – he has a love that he can’t talk about. He is facing ruin for his love. I think that the Bentham stuff indicates that not everyone at the time thought that being gay was an abomination. Those are views from 1785, not 2010.

    As for whether Garrow would have gone into the cell for a chat, that is of course a piece of drama, but if you ask me whether it’s credible, I say yes. Prisoners could have people visit them – all you had to do was pay the gaoler. But more than that, Garrow can’t talk about his love for Sarah with anyone else, he’s a lonely guy without friends, who is shunned by his colleagues at the bar. He feels that he doesn’t have anyone else who will understand.

    with best wishes


  6. Owen Price says:

    But, as you say, ‘The striking thing was that owing to the climate at the time, Betham did not publish this essay during his lifetime.’ So, even though not everyone viewed homosexuality as an abomination, they were certianly very careful about airing their views, and probably they would not have done so in a professional context. The show is losing its credibility for two reasons: firstly, becuase it is focusing too much on the broader political issues of the age, but through the polically correct lense of the modern era. Secondly,I must also agree with Erastes that ‘frankly I could do without the love interest.’ Let’s have less conjecture about Garrow’s private life and political views and get back to what made the first series a success, courtroom drama that gave fascinating insights into the legal processes of the time.

  7. Mark Pallis says:

    Thanks Owen.

    I’ll have to disagree with you that we’re focusing on things from the politically correct lens of the modern era.

    But thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. I hope that the BBC ask us to make a third series!

    with best wishes


  8. judith charters says:

    Fascinating discussion,above, and I have a measure of sympathy with both sides.
    However, as a dovotee, I have concerns that the mixed responses to the 2nd series (for the very reasons voiced by Owen) may result in the lack of a third series.

  9. Garrowfan says:

    As a fan of the show from the very beginning I must say I did prefer the cooler style of the first season… not for the writing, not for the cases,not for the acting, but for the less soppy directing and editing!!
    The cases became more important and tough, but the style became much softer and , excuse me, soap-ish..

  10. I discovered Garraw’s Law by accident: I was bored one evening, flicking through TV channels, and I stumbled upon the first series. I was instantly hooked by the dialogues, costume design and references to real historical sources (some of which are accessible online). Many a film or TV drama has had the pretense of portraying History, but few demonstrate actual reliance on historical material. Garraw’s Law shines in its portrayal of the end of the 18th century: a time when liberal ideals were rising but the law was still very inhumane. In series 2, the show has taken a more emotional route, perhaps, but it has kept its attachment to good historical research. Garraws Law provides a good ‘snapshot’ of the 1780’s, letting us in on the language, mentalities, laws, morals, trades, ways of life. Yes, there is a little artistic licence. Yes, there is the inevitable ‘love interest’ storyline. Must we remind people that this is a TV show, meant to entertain as well as, possibly, educate a little? Compared to most other period dramas, Garraw’s Law is very good at respecting History whilst keeping the audioence entertained. Congratulations…and thank you for sharing the Captain Jones online sources. Much appreciated.

  11. Mark Pallis says:

    Thanks. I hope you enjoy the remaining two episodes.

    with best wishes


  12. Meredith says:

    Let me offer an opposing viewpoint. I love the Garrow and Sarah relationship stuff. I love how it has developed from quiet beginnings of mutual respect and understanding, and that it cracks on at a good pace, without dragging out the will-they-won’t-they question for years and years like some shows do.

    Seems to me anything with the barest hint of romance is given the disparaging label “soap,” by some, despite having nothing else in common with long-running, open-ended serial dramas churning out hundreds of slapdash episodes per year. I guess Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare would be “soapy” to some folks. I happen to LIKE character development, provided it is tightly written and well acted, which in the case of “Garrow’s Law” is an understatement.

    The real William Garrow found the time to have a love life with Sarah, raise three children with her (their two plus Sarah and Hill’s son), and, when the kids were 10-14 years old, to get married (with Silvester as witness!). A thoroughly atypical Georgian family! All this Garrow did while changing the face of the law forever, from creating the “best evidence rule” to coining the phrase, “innocent until proven guilty.”

    I find William Garrow and Sarah Dore/Hill’s story (both the historical one, and the slightly different GL version) just as compelling as the court cases themselves. I think the show strikes just the right balance, and the effect is magic.

    I just wish that we could get another series, and that it was a bit longer!

    • Zagorka says:

      I absolutely agree. The love story is presented beautifully and it does not “overwhelm” the series – it actually gives way to an insightful commentary on woman’s/mother’s rights! And I’m posting here to show my support and in hope to hear the news of the third series soon.

  13. MJ Holman says:

    Last year I eagerly anticipated episode two of Garrow’s Law because I have family links to the trial. After the programme had aired I was somewhat disappointed that the story had not kept to the facts of the trial, but understood why. A tale of forbidden love was more suited to Garrow’s story arc than a traumatic account of child molestation, so I had no criticism regarding the changes. However I am somewhat irked that the boy Francis Henry Hay has consistently been sacrificed and ignored in the available literature for the sake of some artistic or political agenda and so here we were again, this time completely erased from the story.

    I have tried to redress this imbalance in favour of Captain Robert Jones by writing what I know about Francis Henry Hay and his family:

    I would love to have seen Garrow take on this case as it actually occurred, but sadly that was not meant to be! I don’t suppose he fancies a case of child abduction does he?

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