North Square

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North Square
The main title caption of the series.
Created by Peter Moffat
Starring Phil Davis
Helen McCrory
Kevin McKidd
Rupert Penry-Jones
Kim Vithana
Dominic Rowan
Victoria Smurfit
Ruth Millar
Tony Monroe
Sasha Behar
James Murray
James Midgeley
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 10
Running time 50 minutes
Original network Channel 4
Original release 18 October 2000 – 1 January 2001
Related shows Criminal Justice

North Square is a British television drama series written by Peter Moffat and broadcast by Channel 4 at the end of 2000. Starring an ensemble cast, including Phil Davis, Rupert Penry-Jones, Helen McCrory and Kevin McKidd, the programme is set around the practice of a barristers' chambers in Leeds.

The series was filmed in and around the real life Park Square, Leeds. This is the area in the city where the majority of barristers' chambers are concentrated.

Despite gaining considerable critical acclaim the show failed to garner a substantial audience resulting in only the one series of ten episodes being produced. In Australia the series was broadcast in 2001 on ABC and repeated in 2004 after popular and critical acclaim.[1] The full series was released on DVD for the first time by Acorn Media UK on 5 March 2012.[2]


Actor Character Series Year
Phil Davis Peter McLeish 1 2000
Helen McCrory Rose Fitzgerald 1 2000
Kevin McKidd Billy Guthrie 1 2000
Rupert Penry-Jones Alex Hay 1 2000
Kim Vithana Wendy De Souza 1 2000
Sasha Behar Stevie Goode 1 2000
Ruth Millar Morag Black 1 2000
Dominic Rowan Tom Mitford 1 2000
James Murray Johnny Boy 1 2000
James Midgeley Bob (John) 1 2000
Victoria Smurfit Dr. Helen Ferryhough 1 2000
Robert Mountford Hussein Ali 1 2000
Tony Monroe Michael Marlowe 1 2000


North Square is a British drama about a group of young, irreverent barristers all hoping to make their mark in the legal profession at a defence chambers in Leeds, West Yorkshire. They are all under the leadership of their Machiavellian chief clerk Peter McLeish, who is clever and obsessed by work and doesn't appear to have a social life. He's struggling to make this new enterprise work and will do anything to make it succeed and beat his arch rival Michael Marlowe from whom he left, taking the best barristers with him.

He establishes relationships with the top criminals in Leeds so he can get their best cases. He is not above persuading a client to offer a plea, not because it's in their best interests but because he doesn't want to miss out on a bigger case coming up.

Early in the series, Rose and Billy give birth to a baby boy and Rose comes back to work four days later. Billy is on an assault charge for defending Wendy De Souza, their head of chambers, whom another barrister, Leo Wilson (who works for Marlowe's chambers), claimed only got to her position because of her skin colour and is suspended but then cleared. However, Marlowe continues to ask Billy to come back to his chambers which he refuses to do and he instructs the case to go to trial.

Morag Black is a new pupil at chambers, taken under the wing of Rose, and is used as a scapegoat to represent cases for Peter while he gives more high-profile cases to other barristers. Johnny Boy begins a relationship with Morag, however, Peter is against the relationship and instructs them both to end it. Later on, Hussein Ali, another pupil, also joins chambers under the guidance of Tom Mitford, yet there is only one new place in chambers available. Peter supports Hussein as he believes he will bring in business because he's a British Asian. At the end of the series the decision of who should stay in chambers goes to Hussein, however Peter tells Morag that she can "squat" in their chambers.

Alex Hay, the golden boy of Peter McLeish, is a smooth, good-looking barrister with a city centre apartment and a relationship with Dr. Helen Ferryhough. But Peter is working with solicitor Stevie Goode, who can bring business to chambers away from Marlowe, and believes Helen is not strong enough for Alex so pushes Stevie and Alex together for the good of chambers. They embark on an affair, unaware that Peter is pulling the strings; using their relationship to secure big clients from Stevie. After a tip-off from Peter to Helen, she and Alex split up and Helen embarks on a relationship with Tom Mitford. At the end of the series, Alex begs Helen to come back to him and it is unknown whether Helen leaves Tom for Alex.

John is the nephew of Peter McLeish and starts work as a trainee at chambers but due to the confusion of his name with his colleague, Johnny Boy, Peter tells him that he is now known as Bob to the rest of chambers. No one except Johnny Boy knows of their kinship, Peter admitting he has been installed "as his eyes and ears" of chambers.

Throughout the series there is an underlying story of Wendy De Souza, who happens to be having an affair with Judge Martin Bould, applying to be QC. She does not succeed in getting the position. Marlowe finds out about the affair and asks Billy to confirm it, stating that if he does the trial will be dropped. Billy confirms this to Marlowe which results in the trial being dropped but Peter is suspicious as to why. He eventually learns from Billy about his admission and advises Judge Martin to end his affair with Wendy De Souza.

Billy tells Rose about what he has done and she is in despair about how Peter is controlling everybody's personal lives, how Wendy was betrayed and why Billy would go to Peter and not her. Plus, she is against Peter's dealings with criminals in order to secure work. At the same time, Alex learns from Helen that it was Peter who told her about his affair with Stevie. At this point, Rose lobbies the team to have Peter removed but in the end she gets no support and decides to leave chambers. However, Peter asks her to do one more case; represent his son, whom he has had no dealings with for 18 years, on a drugs charge. She manages to secure a "Not Guilty" verdict. At the end of the last episode, Rose walks back into chambers as the rest of the team are celebrating their one-year anniversary as a chambers.


  • Best Drama Series/Serial
  • Best Actor – Phil Davis
  • Best Actress – Helen McCrory
  • Writer's Award – Peter Moffat (shared with Simon Schama for A History of Britain)

Davis was also nominated for Best Actor at the 2001 Royal Television Society Awards.


Scholarly article[edit]

Bainbridge, Jason (2009). "‘Sexy Men in Wigs’: North Square and the Representation of Law on British Television". Journal of British Cinema and Television (Edinburgh University Press) 6 (1): 83–102. doi:10.3366/E1743452109000703. Retrieved 18 January 2013.  External link in |publisher=, |journal= (help)

External links[edit]