Garrow actor delighted to be back after Festival visit to the puppet show

Andrew Buchan and Alun Armstrong
Andrew Buchan and Alun Armstrong
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There aren’t many people who have had the dubious honour of being told off by a puppet, but Andrew Buchan is one of them.

The actor took a break from filming Garrow’s Law this summer to visit the Edinburgh Festival and soon experienced the consequences of walking in late for a show.

“We saw a brilliant play called Table, which was about a Japanese puppet on a table,” says Buchan.

“But we arrived annoyingly five minutes late and the puppet started the show again just for us and stared directly as us saying, ‘You’re late! So just to recap..’ It was hilarious - we got on the wrong side of a puppet.”

The encounter was just one example of the “real joy” experienced by Buchan when he returned to Scotland to film a third series of the drama, which is based on the true story of crusading 18th century barrister William Garrow.

The 32-year-old explains, “This year was amazing. There was a real sense of cohesion and everyone was really up for it. We almost had more passion than we had in series one.”

This extended to what Buchan’s co-star Alun Armstrong has described as a “halls of residence” feeling at the hotel where they all stayed, with parties and people popping from room to room for cups of tea.

“He’s probably talking about one night when he had a canape party in his room,” says Buchan.

“For his birthday we got him some wine and cheese and crackers so he got people over to share it. It was a very respectable canape evening.”

There are some lighter moments within the series too, as Garrow enjoys the first flush of love with Lady Sarah Hill, played by Lyndsey Marshall, who left her husband for Garrow in series two, causing an enormous scandal.

“The last series was very sticky and dark and gloomy, with that huge tug of war. But now, as we open series three, we needed - and I hope viewers would agree - to see the two of them together, with moments of happiness.

“Otherwise it would all be a little bit doom and gloom,” says the actor who, quite sweetly, refers to Garrow as ‘me’ when talking about him.

Although Garrow’s personal life is looking up, the series explores how the man credited with introducing the legal concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ fell on tough times professionally as a result of his relationship with Lady Sarah.

“The scandal surrounding those two getting together has meant that Garrow isn’t that highly regarded in the Old Bailey any more and so, financially speaking, we’re both very poor. I’m having to take some very minor cases to stay afloat,” says Buchan.

The tables turn when, out of desperation, Garrow accepts a case which no one else dares to take.

“The case is the attempted assassination of the king, which most lawyers don’t want to take because it deals with madness,” reveals Buchan.

“Issues such as the jury’s understanding of madness, the definition of madness and if madness at that time was a good enough defence to get someone off the charge of murder, makes me very cautious about it.

“But after looking into the understanding of madness itself, I dived straight in.”

Just as they are for Garrow, things are looking up in Buchan’s personal life too. He’s just got engaged to Amy Nuttall, the red-headed ex-Emmerdale actress who starred in Spamalot at the Edinburgh Playhouse last year.

Buchan is proud to have brought Garrow, an important yet overlooked figure, back into the public consciousness, and says the role has made him think more carefully about our justice system.

“I think there were holes in the system back then as there are holes now. But justice is such a huge web it’s hard for me to criticise or approach it. We’ve obviously progressed in a huge way since the Garrow era and it’s interesting to see how far we’ve come,” he says.