Marshall Law: articles

A law unto itself for Lisa

SEVEN'S major new drama, Marshall Law, finally premieres tonight after 18 months in development. But before you say "not another legal drama", here's what executive producer Alan Hardy has to say about the series, which stars Perth's Lisa McCune and Alison Whyte as sisters Ros and Verity Marshall.

"It's legal drama but not just a legal drama, it's a show about two young women who work in the law," said Hardy from his office at Seven's production studios in Melbourne, where Marshall Law and Blue Heelers are filmed.

"Most of us meet our lovers, our friends, our enemies - they are made in our working life. So the stories are all set around the court and court cases but as well as the layer of the court case, we have the layer of the lives and loves of the girls and their friends."

McCune plays a junior prosecutor just starting to find her feet while Verity is an acclaimed barrister. After hours, Ros is happy to take home any bloke she fancies, while recently divorced Verity is uptight and disapproves of Ros' behaviour.

Verity's former husband, QC Dylan Boyd (William McInnes), took her to the cleaners forcing her to rent a room to Ros whose noisy sex romps distract her.

Hardy was always keen to emphasise the humour in the scripts and to make the law seem accessible to viewers.

"We don't often see shows about Australian law," Hardy said. "Rafferty's Rules is the last one I can think of, which was very successful for the Seven Network, coincidentally.

"We are so used to seeing American law, with the district attorney getting up, going to the witness box and walking around. Well, that doesn't happen in our courts," he said.

The show also has the lawyers working in the magistrate's court rather than the higher courts.

"Most TV drama is all murder," Hardy said. "This isn't about that - it's about everything from driving the wrong way down a one-way street to the assault of a lap dancer to sinking a houseboat, those sorts of cases.

"Some appear simple, some appear quirky and funny but, of course, to the people involved, they are deadly serious."

Hardy has nothing but praise for McCune, the multiple Logie-winner who became a household name as Maggie Doyle in Blue Heelers. Although he had never met her, he said he had seen and admired her work.

"Everyone says she's such a nice person, she's so great to work with and she's so talented. You think it can't all be true and, of course, it is, she's an absolute delight," he said.

How does he think Heelers fans will react to her saucy new character? "People call her the girl next door. To me that means someone who is loved and not threatened by either sex. She is playing an entirely different character but those qualities are within her, they don't go away.

"The fact is she is playing a lawyer, a Gen X young woman who thinks casual sex is part of her weekly life - not something to worry about.

"Underneath all that is Lisa McCune, who has that warmth, that vulnerability, that sense of humour, inner strength and feistiness that makes you think, 'gosh, I hope she wins, I hope she gets what she wants' - that's all that Lisa brings in. So Ros Marshall is a great character for her, yet could not be more different from Maggie Doyle."

Hardy is quick to point out Marshall Law is not for the whole family, as evidenced by its 9.30pm time slot.

"Sex is very much a part of their lives and a lot of the cases writers have chosen, with that same cheeky sense of humour, are about sexual matters.

"So we have a lot of fun. There is strong language at times, there are frequent sexual references. It isn't a kids' show."

By Sue Yeap
August 2002
The West Australian