TV cop show producers and actors typecast as solicitors were both celebrating today, after one of the most bitter and protracted disputes in British industrial relations history came to an end. A groundbreaking deal will see solicitors finally obtain more prominent speaking parts and plot development roles in police dramas. In return, solicitors have agreed to offer cameramen a wider set of facial expressions, and to reduce gratuitous note-taking during police interviews to 50%.
The current dispute has lasted over four years, spanning all three series of Broadchurch, Line of Duty and the Fall, plus an estimated 1000 copycat shows. Solicitor-actors began working to rule in 2013, after they failed to secure an equal amount of screen time in police dramas with forensic scientists, pathologists and quirky-but-likeable data analysts.
‘Our members have fallen behind over many years, forced to make a living from scraps of off-the-shelf lines, whilst being routinely mocked in scripts by sweaty desk sergeants’, noted union representative Peter McDaid today. ‘Forced to act out tired stereotypes like being called in at 4am after having no sleep. The last time one of our members appeared in a start-of-episode plot reminder segment was in a Touch of Frost in 1994′.
Difficult industrial relations have hindered the industry since the 1960s, when an infamous productivity agreement decreed that solicitors should have no more than 3 speaking lines per episode. One of these lines had to include the words ‘As my client has repeatedly argued…’, whilst another required the solicitor to advise their client to say nothing more, delivered in an exasperated tone, just as the suspect is about to admit guilt.
‘This fragile consensus served cop dramas well until the late 1990s, noted McDaid. ‘However, high-profile solicitor showboating on episodes of The Bill, and the the rise of specialist legal dramas like Aly McBeal have hit our jobbing actor-solicitors hard. Most juicy lines and key plot devices for solicitors are outsourced to the big boys like Law and Order and Silk.’
‘Our skills in summarising the last 20 minutes of plot after a commercial break are world leading, we just need to be given the chance to shine,’ said one actor-solicitor, delighted with the news today. ‘Now, I suggest that you either charge my client, or if you have no material evidence, that you release him without charge’, she added, gathering up her papers in a business-like manner and getting out of her seat. ‘How was that? Do I win the part?’.