RIP Johnny Mortimer - called to the Bar for the last time

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RIP Johnny Mortimer - called to the Bar for the last time

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:08 pm

I said yesterday in the Patrick McGoohan RIP thread that I was a fan of the Prisoner and also of Leo McKern in that show. Well I got 'into' Leo because of Rumpole of the Bailey and Rumpole was of course probably, or arguably, one of Sir John Mortimer's greatest work - certainly one of the most popular of his many books, plays and TV shows.

I worked in the courts for long time, and Rumpole and all his colleagues and adversaries and rogue judges are, believe me, definitely not that exaggerated in character or performance. It was an excellent cast of course, but without a brilliant script to support them, it would never have run for 17 years. And the reason it was so good was because Sir John Mortimer was also a QC (a Queen's Counsel barrister who often go on to become top judges) and so he knew his stuff and his people very well indeed.

Aside from writing himself he also did Literature one other great service which I hope will never, ever be forgotten - he defended the publishers of DH Laurence's Lady Chatterley's Lover in the famous obscenity trial in the 1960's and, in getting them acquitted, changed attitudes to censorship of the arts forever.
Whether or not you rate LCL as great literature, the writing is beautiful and although it didn't save lives or maybe isn't that important in the scheme of things, getting it accepted 'officially' as a valid story of love and tenderness, instead of tacky piece of pornography, affirmed the liberty of the human mind and spirit. So he's yet another hero of mine and this world was very lucky to have him in it.
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
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Postby Tonyblack » Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:38 pm

:( Aw man! That's really sad news. RIP Sir John.
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Postby Binky » Sat Jan 24, 2009 1:16 am

I can recommend his memoirs for a little light reading - terribly funny!
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