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Filming at the Old Bailey [imagemap with 6 links]

Filming at the Old Bailey

The Old Bailey is the best known courthouse in Britain and possibly the world. It hears cases from London, those remitted to it from England and Wales (because the case would not receive a fair trial in its own region -- for example the trial of Fred and Rosemary West) and all those arising on board British ships at sea. Just some of those who have been tried there include Oscar Wilde, Daniel Defoe and his Moll Flanders, William Joyce, Dennis Nielsen, the Krays, and most recently Barry George and Jeffrey Archer.

The Old Bailey court was built in the sixteenth century on the site of Newgate prison where, for 85 years, prisoners sentenced to death were publicly hanged. It was rebuilt in 1907 and then damaged by a bomb during World War II, and by an IRA car bomb in 1973. The last hanging in the country took place there in 1955 when Ruth Ellis received the death sentence for murder.

Francis Hopkinson, producer of The Jury, explains that the Old Bailey was chosen as the backdrop for the film for two reasons. "First, it is iconic and a symbol of British justice. And secondly, there is a sense that it is the place where the most appalling trials take place. We were given access to the Great Hall for two days which was fantastic. No one has ever been allowed to film inside the Old Bailey before so it was a great privilege.

'The Jury is filmed through the eyes of the jurors, revealing the ways in which each of them is affected by the case both in and out of the courtroom. It tackles racism and crime head on without brushing round it, as well as challenging the legal system and revealing what goes on within it. Finally, it deals with the emotions of a teenage boy being tried by 12 complete strangers.'

'Working with Antony (Sher) and Derek (Jacobi), who I grew up watching, has been a dream come true. In fact, the whole cast have been wonderful -- it has been great working with such a high caliber of actors.

'Viewers who have done jury service will hopefully be able to relate to the jurors and those who haven't will be able to get a feel for what it would be like if they did get called.'

Set designer Adrian Smith re-created the Old Bailey's Courtroom Number One and found another 130 locations for The Jury. He admits to feeling lucky that the crew had a great deal of access to the actual courtroom from an early stage. They also had a number of old photographs to work from.

'Stratford Courthouse was chosen, as the location for some scenes, because its interiors are similar to the Old Bailey's. Although much of the building is now derelict, the courtroom we used was in a reasonable condition.' 'This was a wonderful drama to do the set design for because it isn't solely based around the courtroom. The Jury has well over one hundred different locations, ranging from the courtroom, jury room and jurors' homes to prison cells, cafés and parks. The variety of characters made it a fascinating project from trying to design a smashed up, completely rundown house for a recovering alcoholic, to a middle-class home for a wealthy Jewish businessman. It is all about stepping into their lives and trying to recreate them visually.'

'To ensure that each of the jurors' surroundings reflect their personalities, a great deal of consideration was also given to color. Ruby and Marcia's homes, for instance, are done in very bright, warm Caribbean colors whereas Peter Segal's house is a lot more muted and neutral to depict his middle-class lifestyle.'

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