BBC Radio 4, 12 June 2013
What is it about courtroom dramas
that render them such compelling listening? Is it their structure, with various witnesses being cross-questioned and
revealing details that they have hitherto concealed? Is it the ebb and flow of questions, with the opposing counsels
trying their best to break or support the witnesses? Or is it the satisfying resolution, where we find out whether the
person is either guilty or not guilty? Or is it all of these factors?
Listening to One of the Lads, I concluded
that it was perhaps all of these factors that rendered the play so compelling. This was an employment tribunal, in which
Suzy Andrews (Susie Riddell) charged the East Yorkshire Police with unfair dismissal. She claimed she had been driven
out of the job due to sexist bullying. Ably defended by her counsel Rebecca Nyman (Claire Rushbrook), Suzy put up a
convincing performance in court, even though provoked beyond measure by the police force's counsel.
During the play we learned a lot about police attitudes towards gender division, as well
as the supposed "banter" which to many male officers provided some kind of a safety-valve from the stresses and strains of
their work. What officers such as Roy Eadley (Graham Turner) failed to realize was that sexist comments might be interpreted
differently by women as compared to men. We also learned how Suzy had in many ways to act like a man to ensure her survival
in the force, which said a lot about the (lack of) equal opportunities, despite the senior officers' protestations to
In the end the case was resolved,
but nothing changed: we were left with the distinct feeling that the male-dominated force would continue behaving in precisely
the same manner as before. A depressing thought, to say the least. The director of this Afternoon Drama was
David Ian Neville.