About Martin Shaw
Judge John Deed is a High Court Judge with a difference. The son of a Coventry baker, he’s made it to the bench without the help of the old boy network, armed only with his sharp intellect, boyish charm and a passionate belief in justice.
He achieved the highest marks ever in Law School and was subsequently head-hunted by all the best chambers, despite not coming through the traditional channel of public school and Oxbridge.
An idealist at heart, his judgements frequently place him at odds with the Lord Chancellor’s Department. Fearless and independent, he’s determined to serve state and sovereign, and will not allow himself to be influenced. Consequently, he has to stay one step ahead of the game, because he has enemies in the system who are always looking for ways to trip him up.
In addition to his hectic career, Deed also finds time to be a loving and committed father to his 20 year-old daughter Charlie. He brought her up after his acrimonious divorce from Charlie’s mother, Georgina Channing QC. A sophisticated girl from the home counties, Georgina was never going to be the perfect match for Deed. But he’s far happier playing the field than settling down; good-looking and in great shape for 50, he has plenty of luck with women and likes to keep his options open.
Deed is considered a maverick by most in his profession. “He’s far more emotional and passionate than is good for anyone in the justice stystem,” explains Martin Shaw. “He is enormously courageous and will stick by his principles no matter what the consequences.” As a result, he’s gained a reputation as a radical and is consequently considered to be ‘less than reliable’ by the Lord Chancellor’s Department.
Nevertheless, Martin is convinced that the bench could do with more judges like him: “But not too many,” he warns. “I wouldn’t give him carte blanche or say that he’s always right. I think he needs to have a measure of control over his emotional responses. But when I’m playing him I agree with him one hundred percent!” he smiles.
Intellectually there’s no denying that Deed is absolutely brilliant. And he’s not flashy with it, which is a great weapon on many occasions because his adversaries often underestimate him. However, his emotional attachment to his cases can prove problematic. “He always responds from his heart first, which could be his undoing,” explains Martin. “He always puts his principles before his career.”
Martin relished the opportunity to play such an unconventional and complex character: “He’s a renegade and I anticipate lots of problems occurring for him. The Lord Chancellor’s Department are gunning for him big time.”
This is the third project on which Martin Shaw and G F Newman have collaborated and, like the previous dramas – For the Greater Good and Black and Blue – Martin hopes that Judge John Deed will get audiences thinking: “This is part of the function of drama, it’s not simply to entertain.
Entertainment must come first but we have to exercise people’s minds as well.” Martin jumped at the chance to work with Newman again: “I like the way his mind works. He’s one of the best writers in television and we share the similar ideals - we’re both vegetarian and we both care passionately about the environment. He’s a challenging person to work with.”