What a fellow! He's got one of the best legal brains in the country. He's got a conscience the size of a small planet. And, as if that wasn't enough, he's got more notches on his bedpost than Woody the Woodpecker. Judge John Deed is a true modern hero, fighting injustice, political interference and pointless bureaucracy wherever he finds it. His High Court adventures - and his erratic essays in the bedroom - have produced one of our most popular television dramas in years.
Don't call me Doyle
Definitely the thinking woman's crumpet, Martin Shaw was born to play Deed. A High Court judge with a conscience is much more Shaw's thing than the other role he's famous for - violent, amoral Ray Doyle, who he played in the gritty 1970s action series The Professionals. Shaw wasn't too keen on Doyle but, hey, a boy's got to eat, hasn't he?
Unfortunately, despite an impressive string of serious work in the theatre and on TV, Shaw was always associated in the public mind with Doyle. Deed has changed that, so Shaw has a lot to thank the judge for.
The judge and Mrs Mills
She's beautiful, she's clever, she's principled. On paper, high-flying barrister Jo Mills and Deed are a perfect match. There's only one problem. Deed may have a good brain but he only uses it for legal deliberation, his personal life is a completely different matter. Jo, a widow with two teenagers, loves Deed but won't marry a man who can't keep his trousers zipped. Quite right, Jo! Jenny Seagrove (A Woman of Substance) plays Jo with just the right amounts of admiration for Deed's legal judgements and exasperation at his hopeless womanising.
The other women
The trouble with Deed is that he doesn't know when he's on to a good thing. Jo is a fine woman but Deed can't curb his roving eye. His most dangerous liaison is with Francesca Rochester (Jemma Redgrave), the wife of his most potent enemy, Sir Ian Rochester. A less hostile presence is Georgina Channing (Caroline Langrishe), Deed's ex-wife. Another lawyer, she's outwardly ambitious and cold-hearted but, underneath, she's still fond of Deed. Lucky that, because he needs all the friends he can get. Away from the legal world, Deed even finds time for romance with his daughter's friend. Is there no stopping this man?
Judge John Deed is written and produced by GF Newman, a crime writer and TV playwright whose often controversial work has been much admired. Newman had Shaw in mind when he was developing the character of Deed. The pair have worked together before, in police drama Black and Blue and a political thriller, For the Greater Good. "I like the way his mind works," says Shaw of Newman. "He's one of the best writers in television and we share similar ideals. We're both vegetarian, we both care passionately about the environment. He's a challenging person to work with."