The Law Game



Shaw Taylor


BBC Radio 2, 22 September 1976 to 4 November 1992

(1977 series also simulcast on Radio 1)


Funny career, Shaw Taylor had, built on five minute bulletins in the London area called 'Police 5'. As such, he became the de facto go-to guy for anything involving crime or the police. The Sir John Stalker of his day, if you will.

In this amiable, and long-running, panel game three genuine legal cases were presented in the form of mini plays, acted out in a semi-comical style by actors as if The Rag Trade was still going. Once all the pertinent points have been covered in the script, Taylor dings a bell and the three celebrity guests are asked to work out what verdict was given in the real version of the case.

The cases usually hinged on obscure points of law. For example, one case involved whether someone was allowed to cut down branches of a neighbour's tree overhanging their garden fence (Answer: yes, as long as you give the wood back), or whether a contract is valid if it's signed at the top (Answer: no, because there's no guarantee that the person had read the clauses below the signature).

The second playlet was usually set in court, which would usually prompt Shaw Taylor to make some comment about the way that the cases had been shortened for dramatic purposes.

The panel each started with 50 points and made bets on the verdict. If they also came up with the correct legal reason they'd be paid double (i.e. odds of 2:1). Since the points were essentially useless by the end of the game, this often led to trailing panellists betting the farm on the outcome of the final case.

Key moments

Russell Davies, later host of Brain of Britain but then a newspaper film critic, recalls an episode when he was a guest where - for some reason - Taylor skipped to the wrong point in his script and managed to read out the answer before the guests had given their own answers. Since there was no backup script available, the panellists had to improvise and pretend to bet on the basis of their initial hunches.


Brad Ashton, who also wrote the playlets.


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