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The Dock Brief


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A play by John Mortimer
[Starring] Michael Hordern and David Kossoff
See page 4

A Dock brief is a strange method of defending a prisoner which is still sometimes used in England. The prisoner, if he has no other legal help, is allowed to choose any barrister who is sitting in Court to appear for him. He takes his pick from the Dock, as you might try to pick out a winning race-horse with a pin, and prisoner and barrister then meet in the cells for a hurried consultation; a half-cooked defence is hastily brought to the boil; and the trial begins.

Tonight's play is about an elderly, unsuccessful barrister who finds himself one happy day picked out to defend an equally unsuccessful criminal. As they work together in the cell, becoming in imagination the Judge, the jury, and various favourable or ruthlessly destroyed witnesses, they become not only enthusiastic but deeply considerate of each other's tender feelings. Alone and happy they make a world which they can always control until they have to emerge, half way through the play, to face the rude reality of the trial.

The Dock Brief is designed as comedy; it is also designed to make the lawyers and the criminals of the world recognise their close affinity. (John Mortimer)


Writer: John Mortimer
Producer: Nesta Pain
Music specially composed by: Antony Hopkins
Designer: Donald Horne
Morgenhall: Michael Hordern
Fowle: David Kossoff
Prison Officer: Richard George

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Feedback about The Dock Brief, BBC Television, 20.45, 16 September 1957
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