With the rise of the hit Line of Duty, and Jed Mercutio's Hat Trick Productions pumping out fast-paced police procedurals to great acclaim, it's little wonder the U.K. airwaves may feel a little dominated by law enforcement cases and crime stories. These shows always seek to impart important messages, such as not prejudging suspects based on their gender, race, or class, and ask viewers to consider what the incarceration system does to those trapped in it and their families. Showtrial, from the title alone, makes it obvious where it's going to build its case and who it's judging.
When the five-part series debuted in the U.K. last fall, it was an instant sensation, despite reviews that called it schlocky and frowned over how overbaked it was. An ITV production that aired on the BBC, the case that Showtrial centers on is the murder of college student Hannah Ellis, the hard-working daughter of a single mother. The suspect: Talitha Campbell, the arrogant daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur. The series switches back and forth between the two sides of the legal battle, giving viewers both the view of the defense and the prosecution as they craft their arguments over what actually happened to Hannah and if Campbell is guilty or not.
The argument is money, politics, and the media are just as responsible for the story that gets told around a high-profile trial like this, with two good-looking young women at the center. The series leans into satire in places, which is why it several places refer to it as "timely" and a "darkly-humorous legal drama." As part of its acquisitions for 2022, AMC Networks scooped up the five-episode series, which will debut simultaneously on both the Sundance Now streaming service and flagship streamer, AMC+.
Here's the synopsis:
When Talitha Campbell, the arrogant daughter of a wealthy entrepreneur, is arrested following the disappearance of a fellow student, the case grips the nation, whipping up a media storm. On Talitha’s side is brilliant solicitor Cleo Roberts. Can Cleo control the narrative of a case that is fast becoming tangled up in the nation’s debates over privilege, wealth, and politics? From arrest to the jury’s final verdict, Showtrial examines both sides of the legal battle, as the defense and prosecution fight for their version of what really happened to Hannah, and the truth about Talitha: Falsely accused? Or callous murderer?
The series stars Céline Buckens (Free Reign) as Talitha Campbell and Tracy Ifeachor (Quantico) as her solicitor, Cleo Roberts, on the defense side. Kerr Logan plays the Crown Prosecution Service's James Thornley and Sinead Keenan, who is soon to star in Unforgotten, plays DI Paula Cassidy, the investigating officer who quickly becomes convinced of Talitha's guilt. Christopher Hatherall plays DC Andy Lowell, her detective partner. The rest of the cast includes Lolita Chakrabarti (Vigil), Sharon D. Clarke (Doctor Who), James Frain (Orphan Black), Amy Morgan (Mr. Selfridge), Rupert Holliday-Evans (Grantchester), Amy Marston (The Nevers), Abra Thompson (Trying), and Angus Castle-Doughty (Shadow & Bone).
Showtrial will stream all five episodes as a binge starting Thursday, July 21, 2022, on AMC+ and Sundance Now.