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  • Writer's pictureBen Anstruther

The Roll TV Show

An idea that was suggested by one of my lecturers was to think about whether or not the script I have worked on could be the start of, or part of, an even longer form work like a feature film or a TV show. While I was at first unsure about the if the world of the procurator fiscal had the scope to be expanded, I realised that with the idea of the show being vaguely inspired by The Thick of It, The Office and Fawlty Towers that it was definitely possible to do so. I don’t think it would work as television show because smaller trials, the ones that take place in Sheriff courts, are suited to the shorter form. The episodic nature of television also means I devote different episodes to different and unusual cases. Like two of the examples mentioned, this would be a 6-episode series with each episode running for 30 minutes. While I have no interest in working or writing for television, (I am devoted to the cinema experience) I thought this would be a fun thing to think about. Since coming up with an outline of episodes and story beats for each, I have started to write a bible for the television series.

The aim of the television is to explore current issues within UK, but particularly Scotland, law and the judicial system. Each episode will tackle a different issue and will so humorously, satirically and sometimes sombrely, always focusing on narrative and character to guide the action. A huge advantage that I have is having many connections to people working within the crown office and so I will be able to keep ahead of the game as well as maintain a level of authenticity against the moments that exist for dramatic purposes.

The key elements that will be taken from the script I have written for my final project and the series as a whole are Nina’s relationship with Gordon, Nina’s relationship with Rachel and the case they are working on. Essentially the script I have written will more or less be the final episode in the show - the current ending will remain the ending of the final episode. However throughout the show, the significance of the case will be built up: TV and radio interviews by the defence will be shown throughout the show, Nina and Gordon will be discussing and collaboratively working on it in most of the episodes and it will be made crystal clear to the audience that successful prosecution of said case will be indicative of whether Nina (or Gordon) are promoted. In short, by the time the final episode arrives, the audience will have a concrete understanding of the stakes involved as that is too much to highlight in a single short film. We will also see more of Nina’s personal life and relationship with Rachel, and how it has completely fizzled out and is on its last legs.

Here is an outline of the episodes. It does help to have read the script I have written for my final project as I do feel it has successfully established who the characters are and the world they inhabit.

  1. Fever Pitch Reached

The pilot will be the only episode in the show to not focus on a specific trial and instead will be set over one or two days where Nina has to prosecute several fairly innocuous and mundane cases. This episode will exist primarily to introduce the audience to the world of the fiscal, the characters and their relationships and grievances with each other. Nina will always be the focal point in every episode and this episode will highlight her strengths and flaws which will be explored and exploited throughout every episode. What will be clearly established here is her intense desire to leave her current job and move on to better things. The episode will be very fast and erratically paced and therefore hopefully quite enervating to watch.

2. The People’s Liberation Front of Larbert and Shieldhill

This episode is primarily in response to the fatuous, nationwide anti-protest legislation instigated by the government in 2023. An all-women march in protest of an unspecified international conflict is brought into court before a jury. Despite Nina’s duty as the prosecutor, her personal politics align with the defendants and clouds her judgment, and she makes an effort to subtly undermine the case. This will be the first clear indication to the audience that she has the capacity and willingness to bend the rules should she see fit to do so.

3. “I’ll Plead To The Pine Marten.”

(This is actually inspired by a case that I had planned to turn into a script for the Production Management module in second year!)

The most unusual case of Nina’s career. During a mistaken police search of a home in a quaint village in the central belt of Scotland, a man is found to be in possession of many dead animals in his freezer. While he claims they are all roadkill, many of the animals appear to have a bullet-hole in the side of them. During the case, Nina is forced to consult with a veterinary pathologist who is the most irritating and obstructive individual she has ever had to contend with - including Trevor. This episode will also include a sequence involving Rachel and their home-life.

4. fml. sos. the groupchats been leaked!

A rugby team from a local independent school has had their sultry social media group chat containing very lewd and libidinous comments, to varying degrees of severity, exposed to the authorities by an anonymous source which is in breach of Scotland’s Hate Crime and Public Order Act. Trevor is ready to have them put behind bars but Nina is not so sure. The episode will focus on their clashing ideologies and working practices which will ultimately fracture their relationship even further than it already is. This will in turn help to explain Trevor’s motivation for refusing to help Nina in the final episode as he does in the current script.

5. Not Proven. No, Problem.

With the Rabbani trial only days away, Nina is suddenly summoned to the high court to fill a vacancy aiding a prosecutor in a significant trial, much to Gordon’s dismay. This episode will explore the difficult issues involved in trials of this nature and why they are so difficult to prosecute. The prosecution will be ultimately unsuccessful, thereby raising the stakes for Nina to prevail in the Rabbani case or else she is unlikely to receive the promotion she has been mercilessly working towards.

6. It’s Just A Shot Away

(As mentioned previously this episode is more or less the script that I have written for my final project).

The big day has arrived and Nina is feeling confident after her months of hard work and dedication in preparing for the most important case of her career. However, at the last conceivable moment, she discovers a vital piece of evidence has been obscured from her. Without any time remaining, Nina decides to forge a false witness to tip the balance however upon using this in court, the defence become suspicious and call her out. Nina then discovers that Gordon, who has grown fearful that Nina is likely to take the promotion away from him, deliberately obfuscated the evidence in a bid to undermine her. Enraged, Nina takes all her anger out on Rachel and in doing so, hammers in the final nail in the coffin of their relationship.

Nina is back to where she started in episode 1 but even more determined now to advance her career… opening the door for season two! (I am joking.)

One thing that I definitely good about knowing where I want things to conclude, and am happy with the way it does, is that I realise what needs to be developed and explored to lead up to it. For example Nina and Gordon’s relationship will show no signs of distrust or deterioration until the final episode - but with the catalyst for said deterioration arriving in episode 5.

If I can find the time, I will definitely consider this as a possibility to write for real rather than speculatively. I do sincerely believe that it could be made into a successful and watchable show.


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