1 9 6 2 (UK)
13 x 30 minute episodes
This BBC comedy show gave 27-year-old actor Richard Briers his first starring role, cast as the innocent but enthusiastic pupil barrister Roger Thursby in his first year in chambers, with actor/writer Richard Waring co-starring as Henry Blagrove, Thursby’s senior.
Henry Cecil’s 1955 book Brothers In Law, set in the legal profession in London, had already been made into a successful film (starring Ian Carmichael and Terry-Thomas) in 1957 before this adaptation for television.
Cecil still practised as a County Court judge at this time (as His Honour Judge Henry Cecil Leon) and his writings on the subject, like the man himself, were urbane, witty and clever. The TV series, though, was scripted by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden.
The TV show had some far-reaching effects. The following year, Waring scripted Briers’ next starring vehicle, Marriage Lines (also produced by Graeme Muir).
One episode of Brothers In Law (Episode 7: “Separation Order”) marked the TV debut of Yootha Joyce – hitherto only a stage performer – who went on to become the female half of the legendary George & Mildred, and the final episode led to a spin-off series, Mr Justice Duncannon, featuring Andrew Cruickshank in the title role.
In 1970, Waring resurrected Brothers In Law for BBC Radio 4, in which he and Briers, and also John Glyn-Jones, reprised their TV roles. It ran for 39 episodes, from 9 June 1970 to 17 July 1972.
The story had appeared on radio before this, too: on 4 February 1955, shortly after the book’s publication, Brothers In Law was produced as a Home Service play, with Donald Sinden as Thursby.
The First Brief | The Expert Witness | Breach of Contract | The Judgement Summons | Counsel’s Opinion | Special Damages | Separation Order | Reasonable Doubt | With Use Of Bath | Without Due Care | Solicitor’s Instructions | Special Examiner | Counsel For The Prosecution