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Although it may be a gripping courtroom drama, Abby O’Reilly argues that Silk fails to reflect the true status of women in the legal profession

Cast of Silk, courtesy of BBC

Be it a voyeuristic insight into the machinations of the criminal justice system or the pursuit of something entertaining to watch on a Tuesday night, audiences have been gripped by the courtroom drama, Silk. As a barrister-to-be, however, I am disappointed with the dearth of empowered, britches-holding women represented in the cockpit of the fictional courtroom. Instead, women are mostly relegated to the roles of either victims or vacuous love interests who are more comfortable rolling around in expensive cotton sheets.

Silk focuses on the social and professional life of barrister Martha Costello as she competes with chambers’ colleague Clive Reader to ‘take Silk’ and achieve the much-coveted accolade of QC. Audiences may have hoped for a formidable female legal force, but writer Peter Moffat – a former barrister and prolific screen writer of legal dramas (Kavanagh QC, Criminal Justice) – has sadly portrayed Costello (played by Maxine Peake) in a simplistic, one-dimensional way.

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Publicity stills courtesy of the BBC/Phil Fisk