BBC One announces ‘Common,’ a new 90-minute film by Jimmy McGovern

Jimmy McGovern to write new BBC One drama

BBC One has commissioned multi-award winning writer Jimmy McGovern’s (Cracker, Accused, Hillsborough) brand new 90-minute film, ‘Common’ (working title), set in Liverpool and based on the UK’s controversial Joint Enterprise Law.

McGovern’s landmark single drama, examines the potential for injustice with the Joint Enterprise or Common Purpose rule; a young man gives friends an impromptu lift to a pizza parlour and finds himself charged with murder.

The film opens as three young men hurry to a parked car, with 17-year-old Johnjo at the wheel, as they pile in and speed off in sheer panic following a fatal stabbing in the local pizza parlour. The lives of the four young men, the lives of those they love and the lives of the victim’s family will never be the same again.

The belief that, if you tell the truth, you have nothing to fear is undermined as the mother of the victim, the mother of the suspect, and the policeman trying to navigate the truth, find themselves entangled in this 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 ten years to tackle crimes, often murder, which are deemed to be gang-related.

The law suggests that the prosecution do not need to prove that a person took someone’s life or had intent to cause harm, but that they had knowledge or foresight of another person’s intent, or were present and failed to stop it and all of this is explored in Jimmy McGovern’s powerful new film.

Jimmy McGovern adds: “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.”

Made by LA Productions for BBC One, ‘Common‘ is executive produced for the BBC by Polly Hill, Head of Independent Drama. Colin McKeown (Moving On, Justice) produces for LA Productions and executive produces with Jimmy McGovern. David Blair (The Street, Accused) will be the Director.

‘Common’ will commence filming next year for broacast in 2013 on BBC One.