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LONDON – BBC One, the public broadcaster’s flagship channel, has commissioned award-winning writer Jimmy McGovern to write a 90-minute TV movie with a working title Common.
The one-off film from the international Emmy-winning writer whose resume boasts The Street which included Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall and Bob Hoskins in its ensemble cast, will be set in Liverpool and based on the U.K.’s controversial Joint Enterprise Law.
Joint Enterprise or common purpose, is a 300-year-old legal doctrine that allows several people to be charged with a crime where they are not the primary offenders.
It has been increasingly used in the last 10 years to tackle crimes, often murder, which are deemed to be gang-related.
McGovern’s script examines the potential for injustice detailing the story of a young man who gives friends an impromptu lift to a pizza joint and finds himself charged with murder.
The film opens as three young men hurry to a parked car, with a 17-year-old at the wheel, jump in and speed off in sheer panic following a fatal stabbing in the local pizza parlor.
BBC One controller Danny Cohen and controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson inked the deal with McGovern for the broadcaster.
McGovern said: “Joint Enterprise was first used in Britain’s courts a few hundred years ago. It was designed to stop the aristocracy duelling. If one duelist killed another then all involved in that duel (the seconds and the surgeons) were charged with murder. It worked. Britain’s aristocrats stopped duelling. Now the law is being used against Britain’s youth. If someone dies in a fight and you’re involved in any way whatsoever, you could find yourself charged with murder. And, if you do, Heaven help you because the burden of proof required in joint enterprise cases is frighteningly low.”
Common will be made by LA Productions for BBC One and is exec produced for the BBC by Polly Hill, head of independent drama.
Colin McKeown produces for LA Productions and he exec produces with McGovern.
It is directed by David Blair (The Street, Accused) and is casting now.
It is set to shoot next year and will air in 2013 on BBC One.
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