Silk (TV Series 2011–2014) Poster

(2011–2014)

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10/10
Outstanding production, real issues
endura-126 November 2014
This show does not disappoint. It is so well done that you might forget you're watching a TV drama not real life events. The characters are believable, powerfully drawn, but the undeniable star of the show is Maxine Peake - her performance just superb! As Martha Costello she is everything that you'd imagine a superior barrister to be. Can't get enough of her credible acting to be honest. The rest of the cast deserves a praise too because it is thanks to them that this BBC drama is so uniquely authentic. Filmed in London (I think), it depicts daily life at Shoe Lane chambers and the work of British barristers, clerks and solicitors. I am professionally interested in law and find it hard to point out any flaws in how "Silk" presents the legal crowd in London. I do see a difference between an American show of this kind and a British one. The former tends to be focused on achievements, career and quirks of personality and the latter...hmmm...basically on the job, meaning you get a believable picture of the life at the chambers. If you're into this sort of thing just see for yourself, you won't be disappointed.
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8/10
Involving courtroom drama, more John Le Carré than Grisham…
The_late_Buddy_Ryan3 February 2014
Rumpole fans already know the drill—solicitors (though we don't see much of them) deal with the clients and prepare a brief, barristers plead the case in court, either for the defense or the prosecution, and a small platoon of clerks take care of the business side. Experienced barristers who make the right moves can hope to "take silk," or be appointed to the privileged caste of Queen's Counsel (more prestigious cases, better money, even a bigger wig).

Maxine Peake is refreshingly unglamorous, with her crunchy Northern accent, and projects a wonderful intensity as one such barrister; Rupert Penry-Jones is well matched as a cynical, corner-cutting rival. This series does office politics extremely well; the first time we watched, I was blown away by a couple of brilliant scenes in which Neil Stuke, as Billy, the hard-nosed senior clerk, fights off a coup attempt and turns one of his big earners who's trying to defect. Apart from the climactic murder trial, court cases are a lot less flashy than you'd find in a show like "The Good Wife," but story lines are brisk, engaging, sometime surprising (Colombian drug mule explains why she's better off in prison); interesting that in the UK it's a criminal offense to own (or be) a pitbull. Supporting honors go to GoT's Natalie Dormer as a "spoony" (born with a silver one in her mouth, i.e.) pupil, Tom Hughes as a not-so-spoony pupil and Nina Sosanya as a mutinous junior barrister.

Here's hoping that the next few seasons will turn up before long on PBS and eventually on Netflix.
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Enjoyed it very much
Leilahali14 November 2011
I really enjoyed watching every episodes of this series. I also watch The GOOD WIFE but at times do get very irritated with that series. Not with SILK. My son is studying law and so the interest in watching these courtroom dramas. The acting in SILK was very good, and the lead character Martha, a very likable character. This series gives you an insight into how law is practiced in the UK. It's not slick like The Good Wife, but more realistic. I can't wait for series 2. If you want to watch a really good drama with some fine acting, good realistic courtroom scenes and some office politics and intrigues then go no further than SILK. I wish the BBC would produce more fine dramas like this.
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9/10
One of my favourites airing so far on TV this year
TheLittleSongbird3 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I like a good legal drama, Rumpole of the Bailey, Kavanagh QC and Perry Mason are especially great, so I had high hopes for Silk. And I really enjoyed it on the whole, as did my parents and sister, who is studying law at college.

Now I do agree about some parts of the drama being on the unrealistic side, the episode with the racist police officer wasn't as solid in the legal details as the rest of the episodes and I didn't completely buy how quickly Martha Castello came back to work after her miscarriage. In fairness though, I did find some aspects of Judge John Deed unrealistic.

That said, Silk is a great programme that ranks among my favourite TV series airing so far this year. Visually, Silk is quite stylish with skillful camera work and striking location shooting. I quite like the music too, the main theme is very driven and does stick in your head for a long time after, decide for yourself whether that is a good thing or not, I personally loved the main theme while my brother found it annoying. And the background scoring is beautiful, haunting and does a credible enough job to bring some flavour to the scene it features in without intruding too much.

I was quite impressed with the series' writing. It is often thoughtful and intelligent with the odd spot of wry humour, such as how Maxine Peake uttered some of her lines in the first episode. It is even better though in the courtroom scenes which are really quite tense sometimes yet always compelling, some of the verbal sparring and observations between Castello and the witnesses are a real joy. The stories are constantly interesting, well-structured and well-paced, the direction throughout is taut and the characters are at least credible and not too sketchy.

The acting also helps lift. I especially want to praise Maxine Peake, who is just wonderful here. Her facial expressions and gestures are wonderfully judged and her delivery of lines is a joy to behold in that she especially made some of the weaker dialogue of the first episode in particular seem credible! It was also great seeing Rupert Penry Jones playing a complete ass while also showing a somewhat sympathetic side. There were also some enjoyable supporting performances, with old favourite Adrian Dunbar in the final episode standing out amongst others.

All in all, a great series even with the lack of realism. I also hope there is another series, as this showed so much promise, though unlike some of the gems of last year like Garrow's Law and Sherlock, Silk doesn't fall into the trap of being too short. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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I had to stop.
celsound-3532122 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I had to stop watching after Martha got release for a man who was obviously going to be tortured and murdered by some evil people for revealing their activities in court. No one sought protection for this defendant and within a few days he was tortured and murdered by the evil gang. I saw this coming from a thousand miles away and Martha should have too. It was just plain stupid and that was it for me.

This happened in the first episode of the second season. The first season was very enjoyable.
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9/10
Thoroughly enjoyable series
Hairy_Scot27 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Just finished watching all three seasons. Really enjoyed the series despite some of the inaccuracies that other reviewers have mentioned. Was disappointed that the pupils were dropped after season one. I thought there was the potential for some good story lines based on the two characters, and Natalie Portman is certainly easy on the eye. I was also interested in how Nick would atone for his shoplifting escapades. The final episodes of Season 3 did seem a trifle contrived and I suppose the rather odd ending of the final episode was intended as a cliffhanger to get us into another season. There certainly were enough additional unexplained loose ends in the third season to warrant a fourth.
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7/10
Love Maxine Peake
pbordes13 July 2017
Stayed with it as long as I could because Peake is mesmerizing and the courtroom dialogue is very intelligent. But finally gave up because of the consistent, overbearing presentation of each criminal as a victim and the police consistently as "loathsome." A bit of balance would have been welcome.
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7/10
... when all is said and done.... really?
bjarias31 July 2014
It truly was a pretty muddled, empty ending, to what for most every episode was a highly entertaining series. And it could have easily gone on for at minimum another couple seasons had they just maintained average storyline quality. But to end it the way they did really doesn't do justice to the exceptional character portrayal by one of the UK's top-notch actors. One with the greatest dialogue and integrity of the entire lot just disappearing into the night without comment... really??!! That's what they dreamed up this wonderful series coming to.. leaving all to the sleazy, office-manager screwing egocentric!! As it was nearing the end, a first thought was that would definitely like to see them keep the story going, but now they've pretty much ruined all future expectation and excitement for that ever happening. They've blown up that hope in such a way it could never be meaningful again... what an absolute, bs waste.
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9/10
yes, but ...
cookie_on_fire2 November 2012
I believe that the comments of a solicitor (see earlier reviews) are completely true and the series is far from being realistic. But am I enjoying watching House (being a doctor of medicine myself) because it is realistic? Lol. Of course not, if I would judge it from realistic side, time, diagnostic, budget and ethical constrains we have in real life, House is an annoying and superficial series, turning medicine into a tragicomic theater - but I choose to relax and enjoy the show. Same applies to Silk.

Like House, the fun of Silk lies mostly in its dialogs and, to some extent, non verbal communication and narcissistic characters (in and out of the court). Note I agree Silk lacks building of the characters. We only learn about Martha. We are becoming almost obsessed with her, as the camera frequently stays on her face for loooong time. Thus, not much place left for others or to put in some more of a story. However, I need to disagree with the previous reviewer about Clive Reader character. The comment about him was: "When he is not being a jackass, he's as nice and loyal as a puppy." Emmm .... This sounds like a stereotype of a successful alpha man and I definitely know a few like him (unfortunately not that cute to be worth making use of it).

I am a bit puzzled how some characters (Kate Brockman? - I thought she was allowed to stay?) disappear completely out of series as new ones get introduced. We miss the old ones, too. Am very puzzled over John Bright character as well. We are allowed to glance at his stunning and gorgeous appearance in almost every chapter, never to touch under surface - I wonder about his work and why is he sitting in the office ... Acting is good, but many times slightly exaggerated (theater style) - an example would be Jake Milner character. Pushing it a bit too far (but cute anyway).

The series seems underrated to me at IMDb. I promise it wont insult your intellect if you understand the concerns I raised above and have no expectations of any realism. It will give you an interesting drama, tension and sublime interactions. I love it, even though it looses its way at times. I think it is very enjoyable, much more than any other series I have seen.
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10/10
Epic
Chillihead111 September 2018
This is an absolutely spectacular series, please make more episodes, I feel abandoned.
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10/10
Fantastic series
debdshaw6030 August 2018
I'm American so any inconsistencies in British law or courts aren't obvious to me. I absolutely love this show. The drama is fantastic and at times edge of your seat. Just when you think some characters are gone too far, they are brilliantly redeemed. I'm binge watching and have just started season three but I don't see it going downhill at all.
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10/10
why did they destroy such a great show?
osumom-3587727 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
It had such good story lines, good actors, and the characters were good strong enjoyable people. i couldn't stop watching... then when they turned the family a divided mess it started to spoil the whole show.. It was such a shame and the Harriet Hammond character was the beginning to the end. whom ever thought up her and brought her into the MIX SHOULD NEVER WRITE AGAIN. THEY TRULY INTRODUCED A CANCER THAN DIVIDED THE FAMILY PART AND HENCE ENDED THE SHOW! Why could it have not continued to be a family? the story lines were strong enough to make the show week after week! why must there always be the one person that has to go and change the entire dimension of a show and then wonder what happened when it fails. the show was well received at the beginning.. the story lines were fresh, and in some cases educational. i know of a few that it sparked a desire to go into law as a career. not to many TV shows can boost that. (it was 10 until the dreaded day they brought Harriet Hammond) it such a shame they had such a winner a 10 out of 10 show and ruined it with the sorry destructive way to bring the Harriet Character in and destroy the whole family dimension that really made the show warm and inviting.. Good job pre Harriet writers and those that had to write a good show despite that horrible plot line. Making the cases was a masterpiece. i was disappointed with the end but i felt it left the door open for its return which would be great but Billy was such a main part of the family it would be hard not to have the protector of the family there.Letting Martha be happy would have been nice every now and then but that is what made her such a good lawyer was the lack of a man in her life. perhaps they can have something similar that is clean (another good thing only a few non family scenes) It was a show you could watch and learn with your children. we don't have enough shows like that anymore!
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9/10
An excellent series - exaggerated drama, certainly, but that's entertainment
j-monro22 May 2016
We've had, and likely always will have, lots of legal dramas, from serious and dark to outright comedy. There's lot of dramatic gold to mine in this genre. In the US - Boston Legal, LA Law, Ally McBeal, Perry Mason and many more - in the UK - Kavanagh QC, Judge John Deed, Justice, Rumpole of the Bailey, The Main Chance (that was the 1960s), Garrows Law (historical) and lots of others. It's a well worn genre with plenty of scope for human interest, convoluted and clever story telling, contemporary themes, triumph of honesty over adversity, love and darkness. Now, I'm not a lawyer, and as to the accuracy of the portrayals of the protagonists, both legal and criminal, in "Silk" I'm not one to judge. For instance, I am a doctor, and had to stop watching "House" as the episodes became ever more bizarre and a travesty of medical life and practice. I couldn't take the drama seriously enough to continue to follow the series.. However, I'd rate "Silk" pretty highly - for its high production values and truly excellent acting, along with stories of contemporary interest ( many seeming to arise from factual occurrences), with underlying themes from episode to episode of the more personal dramas in the Shoe Lane practice with it's three main protagonists - , Billy, the Machiavellian clerk who has accumulated to himself much power through his misuse of his position of trust and his self-appointed role as a sort of Godfather of the practice; Martha - the out of place northerner and female to boot, a feisty, intelligent, articulate and scrupulously honest rising legal star; her colleague Clive - superficially charming but a rather devious, emotionally unreliable and inadequate personally, but who comes over as a surprisingly sympathetic character and is actually a very good and humane barrister. Their interactions with a few less prominent other members of the firm, and with a succession of legal apprentices, makes up the rest of each week's stories. In the genre of legal dramas I'd rate "Silk" very highly indeed - it's good television, entertaining, exciting at times, humorous at others and sometimes challenging and thought provoking. What more could anyone wish for sitting in front of their TV screen for an hour? I've been watching them again recently on Netflix, and without the intrusive adverts and with its improved picture quality, the series is even better than I remember when it was first broadcast.
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7/10
Good but flawed at times
I have to disagree with a previous reviewer (Leilahali) about what they perceive as "more realistic" aspect of the show. The series is just as silk and clean as The Good Wife and younger too. I don't understand why every TV show needs to be compared to US television and not just stand on it's own.

What the series does well is show the lives and stories of the lawyers as well as the cases they are working on. However, one the flaws is that they are nearly always defending someone who is innocent or not as guilty as you who think they are. Even though in the first episode Martha states 85% of their clients will be guilty. They are constantly defending someone whose being "fitted up" by the coppers rather than be outright guilty. The writers make an effort not to have clients that are too guilty or "bad/evil" as so to not turn the audience off.

They don't know what to do with the Clive Reader character. When he is not being a jackass, he's as nice and loyal as a puppy. The lawyers are too young and attractive to reflect anything near real life. Tom Hughes is ridiculous to look at; he's too good looking to take seriously without thinking he is there to be obvious eye candy. There are lots of contrived moments.

This isn't a topical legal show. Not many hot button issues. The critics are right about the flaws. Nevertheless I like it, but I like Garrow's Law better.
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8/10
Love it
PRSanyal2 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I love British films and filmmakers. Its not easy while traveling to watch series as you have lots of things to deal with. But silk and black mirror have kept me awake for last few nights. I am gonna talk about silk here, cause I just finished the first season. I usually fast forward films if they are not that interesting to me. Series on the other hand, are more likely to go down that ally. Silk, fortunately, made me watch every bite. Why? Pure wit. British are stunning me with their makings. Martha Costello played by Maxine Peake, is a perfect British honest lawyer in the series. She portrays present day working woman, with highest esteme. The series in its first season showed how women in a country like England still face obstacles in climbing up the ladder, how they are defined by their gender, vulnerability, family and other discriminating criteria. Martha tries to uphold justice in between personal and professional life conflicts. She is pregnant with child of a colleague who is a charming playboy. Most importantly they are both contenders for silk which gives them freedom to practice, working in the same firm. They both have pupils who make things more complicated. Martha guides audience towards true and just features, shows there are more to which we think as naked truth. As in the fifth episode a judge puts it, "as a prosecutor, you don't win or lose. You just present the facts." I rated the series 8 on IMDb. I would like to encourage all to see it.
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7/10
High Quality Production
theartfuldodger201210 September 2013
I have only viewed series 1. This is obviously a very high quality production, beautifully shot. Well-acted too. The problem lies with the writing. A bit too formulaic for my taste with the writer starting a number of subplots and having them all neatly resolve in the last 30 minutes of the final episode of the series. But that aside, I think it presents a fairly good picture of a barrister's life from pupillage right up through a QC and head of chambers.

I almost bailed in the first 10 minutes of the first episode however when Martha visits her client in the cells and asks him "tell me straight now, did you do it?"

As every viewer of Rumpole of the Bailey knows, you NEVER ask the client if he did it. Why? In case he tells you he did. As an officer of the court you cannot stand up and present your client as innocent if you know that he is guilty. You must withdraw from the case and thus lose your fee.
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10/10
Maxine peake can do no wrong
akatic-2186918 January 2019
I watched this series first time round loved it so much I bought the whole thing again on amazon prime ,I maybe biased but as far as I'm concerned I would pay to watch Maxine peake do the washing up a fantastic actress and the writing and supporting cast top knot has.its a must watch
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10/10
Begrudgingly a 10
docster19683 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
It was all great until the end of the last episode. Why is it writers get lazy when ending a series. It just seems that tape this bubble gum that disappearing Martha. The seris was phenomenal til the end. More than great watching just disappointing in the end.
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9/10
One of the Best Legal Series I've seen!
aurasbob30 May 2018
Great acting, legal stories, mystery & reality. A great Binge Series, would have liked 3 more seasons!
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5/10
extremely far fetched.
malcolmgsw30 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
As a solicitor i have instructed barristers on many occasions and none of my experiences,albeit with civil litigation,not criminal work,bear any relation to what i have seen in this series.the impression was that the barrister does all the preparatory work prior to trial whereas the opposite was true.Barristers only tended to become involved in the later part of the proceedings.This programme couldn't make up its mind as to whether it wanted to be Runpole Of The Bailey or Perry Mason.Martha Costello being the female equivalent of Perry Mason ,breaking a witness down and obtaining a confession on the stand.really it had me in fits of laughter.also the sight of poor old Martha having a miscarriage and coming straight back from hospital as if she had had nothing more than chronic indigestion.All the intriguing by the clerk coming to nothing.I was never wined and dined by a clerk nor any inducements offered to me,mores the pity.So if any of you believe that this had any passing resemblance to the law as practiced in this country forget it!
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7/10
Preferred the first series...
Nmb-734-39538614 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I only recently discovered this series online whilst looking for something to watch. I loved everything about the first series, I cant believe I missed it when it was originally shown on BBC. It follows all the drama inside the courtroom and back at chambers. Maxine Peake is brilliant as Martha Costello and Rupert Penry-Jones is equally as good as Clive Reader.

The main story of Series 1 is Martha and Clive working towards becoming Silks and in the last episode they learn that Martha has been accepted but Clive hasn't. Unfortunately, Series 2 didn't seem to have a theme! So I didn't feel like I had achieved anything by getting to the end of the series. Martha and Clive were working on separate cases for most of the series, so the banter and dialogue that made Series 1 entertaining just wasn't there. But I did like the introduction of the character of Caroline Warwick. Overall, Series 1 was fantastic, but Series 2 dragged on a bit. I hope Series 3 is an improvement.
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10/10
Brilliant from start to finish.
digitaljon200027 May 2019
Silk for me has to be one of the best legal dramas that I have seen.

This had everything, from criminal trials to highs and lows that you would probably see in a real life practice.

The acting from the cast was fantastic throughout, and Costello (Peak) was sublime. In a Male dominated chambers, she ensured that equality meant equality.

Billy (Stuke) the Clark played a wonderful part too. He was mischievous and funny, whilst Barber, Penry-Jones, Davies and Jones all played their individual roles to a tee.

When Sosanyana came into the fold, she added a spiteful dimension which gave the chambers a bit of a shake-up.

It's a crying shame that it ended in just a handful of series, as I would love to have continued watching.

I throughly enjoyed this, and for me it was just above Kavanagh QC in quality, despite John Thaw playing an epic QC in his series.

North Square is similar, but I was unimpressed by the single series - it needed more than that.
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8/10
Great Show!
kolleen_adelphia120 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Although there were some obvious "goofs", and really inexpensively (whispered under breath, "cheaply") made scenes (ex: The red widows in every jail cell.), this was a really great programme!!! I'm an Anglophile, and prefer British, Irish, Scottish, Wales, Aussie, & N.Z. programmes/movies to American ones, but I must say........ I was deeply disappointed with how the show ended!!!!! I wanted a season 4, or for it to evolve into another programme....... but there was nothing.
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7/10
Good show, great production values, seriously let down by its format
SaraNijeVo30 December 2016
The show is very entertaining, the acting, production, sound, etc. are all top.

This show, however, is let down by the outdated episodic/procedural format that TV is moving away from.

The problem is that every episode becomes a formula, a case introduced, slight intertwining of case with personal life, twist and ending. Rinse and repeat.

This formula was fine for Law and Order back in the 90's, but it gets boring very quickly. That's why many shows are moving away from that. Luther started with episodic and then went on to do to season-long cases (you guys call it series-long). Over in France, Engrenages (Spiral) is a season-long case. Denmark the same with the Killing, The Bridge and Follow the Money. Line of Duty is season-long cases. Justified also moved from episodic to season-long. Over in the law world, Suits also moved from procedural to season-long arcs and cases. A more serious show, The Night Of, also is a season-long story. Same with Better Call Saul.

Procedurals have short stories of short threads that always end by the end of the episode. There's no suspense, no reason to tune in week-in week-out or to binge. You watch one, enjoy it and then you don't care anymore.

Procedurals are now left behind for sitcoms or other weak dramas.

Procedurals let you cover more cases, but you get less of them. You get flashes of a courtroom, quick decisions, it's like watching speed chess.

There is no reason why this show couldn't do a major case every 3 - 4 episodes. Season 1 could've had 2 major cases, and have the multitude of small cases intertwine with the bigger ones, being a distraction or a chance to discover something.

I've watched a few episodes now but the formulaic nature got me bored. I write this in hope that producers making shows stop with procedurals.
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