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A six-part series about life at the Bar and what it means to become a silk.

Silk follows a set of barristers from a chambers in London. The series' main focus is on Martha Costello (Maxine Peake) and her ambition to become Queen's Counsel, and her rival, Clive Reader (Rupert Penry-Jones). Martha achieves her ambition at the end of Series One, leaving Clive disappointed.

The series' title refers to the act of being appointed a Queen's Counsel, known as "taking silk". Queen's Counsel wear distinctive full-bottomed wigs and silk gowns when they appear in Court.


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Martha Costello

Martha is funny, bright and without guile.

Martha lives for her career which always comes before her personal life. She says what she thinks and doesn't dress it up in legal speak which is rare at the Bar. Clients love her because her honesty and lack of self-importance is a breath of fresh air in Law-land. But her straight-talking sometimes gets her into trouble and she tends to rub the establishment up the wrong way. Not necessarily the best thing when you’re a Silk.

In the course of this series Martha begins to question herself; what she does, why she does it and why she believes in it. For the first time we see Martha truly vulnerable and disillusioned – glimpsing beneath the battle armour she wears so well.

As Martha negotiates her own feelings towards the law, she finds herself privy to other people’s secrets, a growing pressure on her as she struggles to know what to do with the knowledge. When her two worlds collide dramatically, what decision will she make in the battle for her soul?




Clive Reader

Flamboyant, badly behaved, gifted and incredibly ambitious, Clive is Martha's equal and opposite.

He is also her closest confidante. Educated at Harrow and Oxford, he epitomises the stereotypical public school boy image. However despite this, he's funny and charming and people like him because he's very good value and keeps his tongue in his cheek just enough to temper his arrogance.

Clive thrives in the courtroom, sparring verbally with the witnesses and his fellow barristers. He is a brilliant barrister who likes everyone to know it, none more so when he achieves Silk and becomes a serious contender for Head of Chambers. Clive has also started to gain a reputation as a prosecutor, building a relationship with the CPS and alienating himself from Martha and Billy who believe Shoe Lane should focus on defence work.

As his feelings for Martha grow, so does his concern for her – has he changed and can he really protect his closest friend when she needs him most?




Billy Lamb

The senior clerk at chambers, he is the man that holds the place together.

He clerks Martha's and Clive's lives, both professionally and personally and he always makes sure he knows everything. However he is also a Dickensian man, set in his ways and convinced that only his way can work.

Not without charm, he is a ducker and a diver and absolutely loyal to Martha. Faced with a new Practice Manager brought in after the events of series 2, Billy is finding it hard to retain the tradition and history of the old ways he so dearly believes in. Can he adapt? And in a battle of old versus new, can he win?

Still battling cancer, Billy is finding it hard to hide his condition from those around him. With treatment affecting his hormones Billy is forced to look to the future. When your life is danger, how do you choose to live what time you may have left? And what will become of Shoe Lane without Billy at its helm?




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