Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sharks vs Piranhas as the 'Finest' Legal Brains Battle It out; TV WATCH

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sharks vs Piranhas as the 'Finest' Legal Brains Battle It out; TV WATCH

Article excerpt



Legal Brain

Legal Channel

THE first week of October is the time of year when I don my white gloves, open the doors of my lexicological museum, and allow the public to peruse my exquisite collection of oxymorons. Recent additions to my world-famous exhibition of self-contradictory phrases include a rare first edition "religious tolerance", a pristine octavo " military intelligence", and a slightly-foxed "police protection", but just as visitors to the Louvre invariably head straight for the Mona Lisa, so the public always flock first to my array of Old Masters.

Enter this ever-popular room and you'll see such celebrated classics as "airline food", "accordion music", "jumbo shrimp", and "free with purchase", while a newly-constructed annexe has finally given me room to exhibit items usually kept in storage, like "starring Arthur Smith", and "this page intentionally left blank". And aficionados will surely welcome the chance to browse through my rare display of oxymoronic incunabula, including a shelf-worn quarto "business ethics", a cockled "civil war", and that Holy Grail of all collectors, "journalistic integrity".

I'm currently compiling a list of TV programmes for next year's exhibition, so my eye was naturally caught by the title of a quiz on the newly founded Legal Channel. I've seen enough of the moronic workings of the law lately to know that Legal Brain is a contradiction in terms, although being a "television critic" by profession, I have to admit that my saying so is a clear case of Dear Kettle, Yours Sincerely Pot.

To be fair, someone at the station clearly does have a brain, because they've just acquired the rights to show all the Seventies episodes of Crown Court (starting today), which will doubtless attract a general audience to the channel.

But when I tuned in recently, what I encountered was the legal profession broadcasting to itself, and speaking so candidly that one solicitor felt free to complete the unfinished sentence "Lawyers are the only persons in whom ignorance of the law is not ..." with the words "... a problem. Charge the client anyway."

"Silence in court" barked the amiable and shamefully underused Bill Tidy, welcoming us onto a set so basic that it made the Open University studios look like Cinecitt-. "Our teams are the Sharks and the Piranhas," he continued, as he introduced us to two pairs of legally-trained contestants, who seemed thoroughly underwhelmed to be there, and had unwisely been given gavels to bang instead of buzzers to push (unwise because the desks were so rickety that, by the end of the series, I bet they'll be flat on the floor).

What followed certainly proved my contention that lawyers can be very, very dim, as one answered a question about "an island disputed by Russia and Japan . …

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