Total TV Guide - 'You Be The Judge'

13-19 November 2010
// Scans provided by Jen

Christopher Eccleston stars in a new series of one-off dramas by Jimmy McGovern that asks viewers to decide whether the Accused are innocent or guilty

With his intense demeanour, offbeat handsomeness and prodigious talent, Christopher Eccleston, 46, has put in memorable performances in Doctor Who, Our Friends In The North and Lennon Naked, to name but a few.
He's also well known for his work with Jimmy McGovern (Hillsborough, Cracker) and the pair reunite in a new series, with Christopher Eccleston playing lapsed Catholic plumber Willy in the first of six new dramas penned by the writer.
Depicting the crime and the punishment, each stand-alone drama tells of how six people came to be in the dock of a courtroom.

"Jimmy has been the spine of my work CV, really," says Christopher. "This is the sixth time I've worked with him and without his writing and those opportunities, my career wouldn't be where it is.
"Jimmy credits his audience with having the intelligence to make their own decision. He says, 'This is how people behave. How do you feel about them?'
"And what we're hoping with this series is to get the audience debating about what the final verdict should be."

Willy's initial dilemma is when and how to tell his wife Carmel that he's leaving her for his mistress.
But when his much-loved daughter comes home and announces she's getting married, Willy gets embroiled in a series of events that find him squarely on the wrong side of the law. But how much is he really to blame?

"I have sympathy for Willy, but things are not entirely beyond his control," says Christopher, a little sternly.
"But I'm not judging him harshly, because I'd probably do the same things that he did."

Christopher is notoriously cagey about his own private life but chuckles wryly when it comes to Willy's affair with a much younger woman.

"Willy, in mid life, has had his head turned - and I've got sympathy for him there! I don't condone what he did, but he's human.
"There's nothing that Willy does in the drama that I personally find unforgivable - and that probably says a lot about me. I've learnt during my own life not to judge other people, only myself."

Willy's wife Carmel is played by Pooky Quesnel, 45, who appeared in McGovern's recent daytime series Moving On.

"I've known Pooky since I was 17," says Christopher. "We did a play together at sixth-form college. We were from different backgrounds [Chris is from a working-class family in Salford], but we had this shared interest in being actors, which was unusual in the area we were from.
"Then she went off to Oxford to do a degree, and I wandered round the world doing not much until I pitched up at drama school.
"So this is the first time we've co-starred since the sixth form! She's a fantastic actress, and not somebody people have seen a huge amount of."

Christopher, who lives in London, says he never watches himself on TV.

"I know when I've delivered the goods or not, and if I haven't I certainly don't watch it - why put yourself through it?" he says, apparently unconvinced that a lacklustre performance from Christopher Eccleston is about as rare as hens' teeth.
"You also watch yourself age on screen - and nobody wants to see that. You look at yourself and go, 'I didn't know I was receding! What's going on?'"

© Total TV Guide

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