Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer

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BBC Radio 7, 6-27 November 2010
First broadcast in 1980, this radio version Maurice Denham and Margot Boyd as "she who must be obeyed," Hilda - a role she also played on television. John Mortimer's half-hour scripts, directed by Ian Cotterell, boiled down some of the television plots into simple tales with predictable outcomes, as Rumpole successfully defends a variety of clients on charges ranging from violence to blackmail.
Maurice Denham was a very different Rumpole from Leo McKern: Denham's voice was grittier, more down-to-earth and lacking the red-wine-soaked geniality of McKern. Denham seemed more goal-focused, enjoying the experience of facing up to obdurate judges and rebellious prosecuting counsels and outwitting them. He still accepts Hilda's authority, but does not appear to be as fond of her as McKern. He accepts her word with a touch of gracelessness, based on thirty years of married life.
Mortimer's playlets preach a message of social justice: everyone, regardless of race, class or gender, should be entitled to equal treatment before the law. Those members of the Establishment - judges, aristocrats and other opinion-formers - who attempt to flout that right are worthy of censure. It is Rumpole's mission in life to expose such people, and thereby fight for the rights of the downtrodden. He might rely on his wits, rather than preparing meticulously for each case, but he has sufficient presence of mind to understand when his clients are telling the truth.
Rumpole himself is a born socialist, despite his education and erudition (he quotes Wordsworth, Shakespeare and Marvell amongst others). He possesses the common touch - an ability to communicate with and represent those less privileged than himself. This explains why he has failed to advance any further up the legal ladder, much to Hilda's chagrin. On the other hand, he remains perennially popular with serial felons like the Timson family.
John Mortimer's view of Old Bailey life might be romanticized, allowing character actors like McKern or Denham to show off their skills, but Rumpole remains a beguiling and enduringly popular series. Now that Mortimer has sadly passed away, I wonder whether any other enterprising writer will take up the legal-dramatic baton and write further episodes? Timothy West is the most recent reincarnation of Rumpole: will anyone write for him?