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The Jury
updated 6.2.2003

Francis Hopkinson, producer of The Jury, responds to comments about the portrayal of Sikhs in the film:
The drama dealt with only one story; Duvinder was never intended to be seen as representative of the entire Sikh faith. We had a Sikh advisor, Jagvinder Singh, who scrutinized every draft of the script to ensure we were accurate and fair. For any comment that might appear disparaging to Sikh's we always ensured there was a counter argument. We also included the character of the Sikh doctor who treats Elsie Beamish -- who is able to put some of the hysterical charges in court into context -- and shows another aspect of the Sikh community in Britain.

(One writer to Masterpiece Theatre) suggests that there was some sinister conspiracy in our portrayal of Duvinder but this was not the intention. Most of what he ascribes as doing down Sikhism was just intended to build up dramatic tension. Duvinder was seen in half light -- as is almost every other one of the characters at one point or another. The prosecution's case was weighted against Duvinder because that is what the prosecution is meant to do in the adversarial system of justice, just as the defense's case was slanted for Duvinder. My concern about this particular correspondent was that he didn't seem to have watched all of the drama. If he had he would have seen that his many concerns were dealt with as the story unfolded, in particular in the defense's closing statement where Derek Jacobi, as Cording, tore apart the Prosecution case.

When the programme was broadcast in the UK, I received as many compliments and complaints from the Sikh community. Many felt that the programme had helped take away some of the mystique of Sikhism and promote understanding. The Jury recently won an award from The Commission for Racial Equality (a government appointed body responsible for promoting racial diversity and awareness in the media) for Best Drama.

Francis Hopkinson
May 2, 2003

Response to The Jury has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, although many viewers wrote to The Forum with questions about the ambiguity of the program's conclusion. Masterpiece Theatre Online asked Peter Morgan, screenwriter of The Jury, to comment:

Given that the show was focused on the jurors -- I wanted to recreate as closely as possible the reality of the situation -- rather than offer a more conventional crime/show resolution. After a trial, sadly, a juror is never told whether he got it 'right' or 'wrong.' For many, this is the cruelest blow of all -- worse than the confinement, the stress, and the responsibility. There is no closure.

Many jurors, like Peter, will live the rest of their lives unsure. I wrote what I did because I wanted to dramatize how some of our jurors dealt with it better than others. Some move on. Some don't. Some care. Some don't. According to our extensive research, that's how real juries are.

Other viewers were concerned with the appropriateness of the Sikh storyline and the accuracy of the program's depiction of Sikhs in general. Again, we asked Peter Morgan, screenwriter of The Jury, to comment:

I am deeply distressed to hear that anyone has taken offence. I can only assure them that I worked incredibly hard, along with the most conscientious consultants and researchers, to make sure I was as even handed as possible.

In response to their concerns, I am also pleased to announce that The Jury won the outstanding achievement award by the Race In The Media Board in the UK -- the highest award one can receive. Not that this excuses any offence felt elsewhere, but I like to think it recognizes how seriously we took our responsibility in this matter.

The UK's Commission for Racial Equality presented its 2003 RIMA Award (Race in the Media) for Television Drama to The Jury, stating "It brought out the history of Sikhism, teaching the viewer something about this culture with a good use of sub plots that twisted in and out of the main story, such as violence, single parenting and underlying racial tension that left the viewer asking questions."

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just wanted to share with you how much I enjoyed watching The Jury. I found it very compelling as it showed great insight and sensitivity with regards to human nature. The actors were also wonderful in their respective roles and brought out the complexities and dimensions of their characters. Good job!

Robert Ortiz
Phoenix, AZ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Fabulous show! I, too, was perplexed about the ending. I asked a friend who has the capability of slowing down the soundtrack to listen to what the terrible father-in-law says to Peter, outside the court after the verdict. The police never searched for the backpack, but "...the evidence is on that shirt." Of course, Peter, being Peter has to go look for it. I don't believe he finds any hard evidence in the canal, but he is frustrated with himself for reacting to his father-in-law, and the seed of doubt has been planted. That beautiful summer day in the graveyard holds promises for some. I hoped that Peter would feel some relief at the comments from the doubting juror who now agreed with the verdict.

Consuelo Larrabee
Friday Harbor, WA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Jury, presented on Masterpiece Theatre, was the most spellbinding show I've seen in many years. I was riveted to my television. The presentation of the script was first class, as was the acting. The actors were wonderful. I think The Jury will be a classic that will endure for a long, long time to come.

Kim Caldwell
Odenton, MD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Americans are famous (or infamous) for demanding resolutions to their mysteries. The British, it seems, are better able to remain stoic. So, I am not surprised at the great number of Americans who are still trying to discover the true murderer. I would like to note two clues:

1.) During the cross examination, the lollypop man/crossing guard seemed to decide he was wrong to say that he saw blood on the boy's shirt. In the final shot of the boy running across the street (from the perspective of the guard), it was clear that the guard had seen only the boy's bright red tie flapping about as he ran. The scene was edited in such a way as to indicate (at least to me) that the guard proceeded in his own mind to vindicate the defendant. If this was not the director's intention, then the film was not edited correctly, in my humble opinion.

2.) If we are not to be satisfied with the homeless man/"nutter" solution to the mystery of the true identity of the murderer, then I may suggest that the actual murderer was the boy's father. This is an incredible stretch, admittedly; however, I was intrigued by the father and son interplay during their jailhouse scene. The boy was crying. He was crying for fear for his future. He was crying from shaming his family, his race, his culture, his religion, etc., and for shaming his father. Throughout the trial, the father is seen to be unemotional. Only when his son shows weakness in front of the prison guard, does the father show emotion. He angrily scolds his son for crying and showing weakness. He orders his son to stand up and stop crying. He commands his son to be strong. The son exclaims, "I didn't do it!" The father responds, "I know." That two-word response may be interpreted in more than one way, but I was chilled by it and I have wondered if the surest way for the father to know that his son was innocent is for the father to have executed his son's tormentor. The logistics of the father's "M.O." remained unexplored, because the police never searched for any other possible murderer. The father might have known of his son's problems (bedwetting, wrenched shoulder, bullying, etc.) all along, but he didn't speak of these things because it would have been more shameful to do so. But after the son stole the sword, the father realized what he had to do.

At least my theory provides more grist for the mill. We Americans do like our mysteries to be tidy, especially at the end.

Morlan Hutchens
Davenport, WA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
As a retired trial judge I was surprised at the judge saying that with a hung jury he would consider a less than unanimous verdict (10-2; 11-1). I know of no such procedure in the United States.

It was also surprising that the outbursts by the victim's family were not threatened with at least exclusion from the courtroom or a contempt citation.

This was an absorbing show!

Edward Rapp
Phoenix, AZ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have been a loyal PBS viewer and advertiser, because of its unbiased views and educational programs. The Jury and its misrepresentation of Sikhs and their wonderful culture have changed it all. I am going to stop spending hard earned dollars on this stupid channel and will ask all my friends and relatives to boycott this channel.

Jatinder Singh
San Francisco, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Well done! We were totally absorbed in the drama. It is a complicated story, well told, and the characters were perfectly cast, as they always are in a British series. Thank you! Leslie Anderson
Portland, OR

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