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Garrow's strong arm of the law

GARROW'S LAW (BBC1, SUN), IRELAND'S STRONGEST MAN (RTE2, SAT)

GARROW'S Law is an enjoyable crime drama set in the 18th century and reminiscent in some ways of the Law and Order franchise (Law and Order: The Past maybe?). Both shows are legal procedurals with story ideas culled from real life: Law and Order from grisly news headlines and Garrow's Law from the real life and career of legal reformer William Garrow.

Garrow, like many television heroes, is a maverick who plays by his own rules. Unlike most mavericks, however, his rules would eventually become the bedrock of the modern legal system and his crazy attitudes would one day be considered pretty mainstream. In previous series, he defended raped servants from charges of infanticide and he prosecuted slave-dealers for the murder of their "property". "Political correctness gone mad!" roared red-faced men with gout and wigs (not in those exact words), not knowing that they were on the wrong side of history.

Of course, there's more to Garrow than being a rabble-rouser who shakes the foundations of Georgian Britain. He's also engaged in a scandalous relationship with Lady Hill, the disgraced wife of a high-profile aristocratic politician. Previously their passion was mainly expressed through meaningful looks and sighs, but this week there's actually some soft-focus historical rumpy-pumpy, probably because period drama has slowly reshaped the sexual desires of my generation (I'm writing this from Copper Face Jacks while wearing a tricorn hat and knickerbockers).

Afterwards Lady Hill decides to engage in a game-changing custody battle with her nefarious former spouse (men got automatic rights over children in those days), while Garrow defends an insane and suicidal religious maniac who tried to kill the king. He visits Bedlam to get an insight into insanity (in those days fancy gentlefolk visited mental institutions for entertainment; nowadays, thanks to progress, we have the early stages of X Factor). He also encourages the accused's wife to give sympathetic evidence, makes public comparison between the would-be assassin and George III and redefines Britain's legal definition of insanity. "That's just how I roll, bra!" says Garrow (or something to that effect. Like the other characters he actually speaks in nicely ornate olden-day English), little knowing the trouble Lady Hill's evil husband is planning.

Garrow's Law demonstrates how the western world developed a complex system of governance best serviced by highly educated technocrats.

But Ireland's Strongest Man showed me how we will choose our leaders after the Euro collapses. Men with arms like tree trunks, torsos like tree-trunks and heads like tree trunks pulled cars on ropes (which will be useful after the oil runs out), placed massive boulders on large plinths (some sort of post-Euro religious rite) and, most weirdly, struggled to hold aloft huge metal axes (for smiting weaker, less bulgy men, I assume). These are the skills required to lead our tribe in a post-European dystopia.

The new leader's tribal advisors will probably include the sadomasochistic cockney commentator ("Pain, I think, is a theme of this competition," he says matter-of-factly) and the onsite interviewer Glenn Ross, a rumbustious former winner who looks like a large fleshy Land Rover with facial hair (at one point Glenn arm-wrestled a crew-member into submission followed by the terrifying query: "WHO'S THE DADDY?!").

Ultimately the winner was a youthful chap who looks like I imagine beef mountains in the 1980s looked like.

He was given a statuette of Fionn mac Cumhaill before, I assume, being whisked off in a man-pulled automobile to an inauguration ceremony in Dublin (the Michael D Higgins inauguration was just a smokescreen). Before long he'll be in Europe putting Sarkozy in a headlock and hitting bond-holders with a big hammer.

And I for one applaud our lumpy new overlord and offer my services as his confidant and bard.

GARROW'S LAW HHHHI IRELAND'S STRONGEST MAN HHHII


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