Silk (TV series)
|Genre||Drama, crime, legal|
|Created by||Peter Moffat|
|Written by||Peter Moffat|
|Directed by||Michael Offer
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||12 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Hilary Salmon|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original channel||BBC One
BBC One HD
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original airing||22 February 2011- Present|
|Related shows||North Square
Silk is a British television drama series produced by the BBC and first shown in 2011. Written by Peter Moffat, the series follows a set of barristers, and what they do to attain the rank of Queen's Counsel, known as 'taking silk'.
Silk was commissioned by Jay Hunt, then-Controller of BBC One and Ben Stephenson, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, and was filmed in July 2010. It is based on Moffat's experiences at the Bar. In an interview with The Guardian, he said "I want to tell it as it really is. The extreme pressure, the hard choices, the ethical dilemmas, the overlap between the personal and the professional, principles fought for and principles sacrificed, the Machiavellian politics, the sex, the drinking, the whole story—life at the bar is the richest possible drama territory."
The series' title refers to the act of being appointed a Queen's Counsel, known as "taking silk". Queen's Counsel wear distinctive full-bottomed wigs and silk gowns when they appear in Court. It is this gown which gives rise to the colloquial reference to Queen's Counsel as "silks" as well as to the phrase "taking silk" referring to their appointment.
Silk follows a set of barristers from a chambers in London. The series' main focus is on Martha Costello (Maxine Peake) and her ambition to become Queen's Counsel as well as on her rival, Clive Reader (Rupert Penry-Jones), and the chambers' two new pupils, Niamh Cranitch (Natalie Dormer) and Nick Slade (Tom Hughes). The chambers' senior clerk, Billy Lamb (Neil Stuke), also features heavily.
The series' writer, Peter Moffat, also wrote the series Criminal Justice and North Square, as well as an episode of Kavanagh QC. Before the series started, Moffat said in an interview, "I wanted Silk to be full of politics and intrigue. From my experience at the Bar, I felt life in chambers had all of those components, with big stories and lots of courtroom drama—but I wanted to make it as much about barristers and their life in chambers as about the trials".
|Martha Costello QC||Maxine Peake||1-||12||Defence barrister, aspires in the first series to become a Silk|
|Clive Reader||Rupert Penry-Jones||1-||12||Barrister, aspires to become a Silk|
|Alan Cowdrey QC||Alex Jennings||1-||7||Head of Chambers|
|Billy Lamb||Neil Stuke||1-||12||Senior Clerk of the Chambers|
|Nick Slade||Tom Hughes||1||6||Pupil, shadows Martha|
|Niamh Cranitch||Natalie Dormer||1||6||Pupil, shadows Clive|
|Kate Brockman||Nina Sosanya||1||6||CPS prosecutor|
|John Bright||John MacMillan||1-||12||Middle Clerk of the Chambers|
|Jake Milner||Theo Barklem-Biggs||1-||12||Junior Clerk of the Chambers|
|George Duggan||Indira Varma||2-||6||Female Solicitor, forms a relationship with Clive in series 2|
|Caroline Warwick QC||Frances Barber||2-||6||CPS prosecutor|
|Mickey Joy||Phil Davis||2||5||Solicitor, reputed to be connected to a powerful criminal family|
|Bethany Brassington||Amy Wren||2||6||New clerk at Shoe Lane Chambers|
For a full list of episodes, see List of Silk episodes
Critical reception 
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, barrister Sarah Palin praised Silk, saying that "the opening episodes do a good job of capturing the relentless pressure of the criminal Bar" and that "the competition for silk, while a useful plot device, also accurately reflects the fiercely competitive nature of the Bar", but added "the characters featured are a little more youthful than their real-life counterparts" and that the storyline in which one of the pupil barristers shoplifts his wig and gown struck "an absurd note". The Telegraph's television reviewer, James Walton, compared the series to Moffat's previous production, North Square, but said that Silk was "more viewer-friendly" and the characters "far easier to divide into heroes and villains". He concluded that the first episode was "a perfectly OK hour of telly—marred only by the fact that we’ve come to expect a bit more than that from Moffat." Alex Aldridge of The Guardian, meanwhile, called the series "underwhelming" and stated that it implied that cocaine use was "rife" amongst criminal barristers. Also writing in The Guardian, Lucy Mangan implied that the series was predictable and called it "a rare misfire by Peter Moffat [...] and aggravated by the squandering of Peake, whose usually overflowing talents seem to have been dammed here rather than encouraged to irrigate an oddly bloodless role".
The first series averaged 5.85 million viewers
The second series averaged 5.74 million viewers
- Maxine Peake and Rupert Penry-Jones called to the bar in new BBC legal drama Silk BBC Press Office, 13th July 2010
- Deans, Jason (13 July 2010). "Maxine Peake to star in BBC1 legal drama Silk". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 1 March 2011.
- "Why is law such a fertile ground for drama?". BBC News (BBC). 22 February 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Palin, Sarah (22 February 2011). "Silk, BBC One: a lawyer's verdict". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Walton, James (22 February 2011). "Silk, BBC One, review". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Aldridge, Alex (3 March 2011). "Alex Aldridge: Is there a cocaine culture at the criminal bar?". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Mangan, Lucy (23 February 2011). "TV review: Silk, Heston's Mission Impossible". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- From the figures in the table above