The Radio Times led the field with the news on 21 March that ‘the BBC1 series starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Maxine Peake and Neil Stuke will not return for a fourth run because lead writer Peter Moffat and Peake are keen to go out on a high.’ Then the following day the BBC’s Media Centre carried the press release and noted that Moffat had hinted at a shocking twist at the end of the final episode, to be aired on Monday 31 March – tonight.
Moffat is to be applauded for that wish to go out on a high. Sadly, many don’t pursue that route leaving audiences with ever-decreasing dregs; failed, failing or flailing ideas; and the consummate ever-decreasing audience figures before the bean counters come along and pull the plug, putting all out their misery.
I will watch this final episode but I don’t agree it’s going out on a high; sorry Mr Moffat.
The first series was excellent and very promising. There have been a few legal series before this one, but Silk was a cut above. But series two left me nervous. The feel of a drama seeped in reality with decent attention to detail was starting to descend into the slightly sensationalist with its gangsters-getting-personal plotting. The addition of Frances Barber as Caroline Warwick was optimistic, even it did arrive feeling out of place. Here we had a rather brilliant and scary female barrister always teetering on the edge due to a – she hoped secret – drink problem.
But in series three Silk has become rather strange and rather soapy, adrift in Dreft. Clive’s now a QC and sometimes playing grown-up to the no longer cutting edge Martha who has taken to dirty dancing in unsuitable places. What’s more, as if he thinks he’s on the set for a Merchant Ivory film, Clive is making declarations of love and packed his penis firmly back in his trousers.
Practice Manager Harriet Hammond arrived in the form of Miranda Raison with no reason given. This character is just a plot ploy to increase the tension on Billy (Neil Stuke) as if his prostate cancer treatment wasn’t enough. What sensible chambers would employ a Practice Manager and keep on the senior clerk (Billy, Neil Stuke) whose practices they are trying to improve? Meanwhile, Billy’s character arc across the series has gone from real and believable character to an overly long audition for a shouty part in EastEnders or a lead in panto.
Head of Chambers, Alan Cowdrey (Alex Jennings) dominated the first story with a personal case that led to his decision to move on. Perhaps the fact he was forced to focus on his son for a while led to the lack of explanation for the introduction of the Practice Manager. Handy though, as his departure has led to a fight for the new Head of Chambers which should resolve tonight.
Once of so much promise, Caroline Warwick has been the token older female in series three and completely side-lined apart from scenes to acknowledge that the demon drink is now a force field and other scenes for us to remember she’s still actually around.
Attention to detail in the plotting has not been impressive in series three; indeed on times it’s been more noticeable for its absence.
Perhaps this will all round off nicely tonight. But somehow, I don’t think many of those facts above will be covered.
It’s not entirely over for those who want still more. The Radio Times reported that ‘there is some small comfort in the news that Mick Collins, one of the writers behind the TV series, will be bringing three new dramas focusing on the show’s clerks to Radio 4 next month.’