A petition signed by the great and the good of the British film industry was presented to 10 Downing Street today in the ongoing campaign for the re-instatement of the death penalty. This followed yesterday’s similar move by the screenwriters’ guild petitioning for police to be armed as a matter of course.
Lord Winningsworth, famed director of films such as ‘Electric Death’, ‘The Trial of Dr Jones’ and the controversial ‘Kill Rage’ series spoke outside the famous black door.
“British filmmakers, some of the finest writing and directing talents in the world, are currently hamstrung by the UK’s lack of a death penalty,” he explained. “They are limited in their work because a tense courtroom drama doesn’t work if the denouement is a sentence of ‘twenty years with time off for good behaviour less time served on remand’. I mean where is the drama in that?” he said.
When asked about the inevitability of miscarriages of justices with the finality of a death sentence, Lord Winningsworth said that was part of the consideration.
“Indeed, that too is another rich line of drama. Films exploring the tragic mistakes of the justice system are much loved by writers and actors – they all love those powerful speeches.”
Anne Corman, award winning crime fiction writer, expressed similar sentiments being felt by a large number of novelists and those working in television.
“Police dramas in the UK are never going to be able to compete against those from the US, there is not enough gunplay – rarely can we write a believable shoot-out, no car is ever likely to get its tyres shot out by pursuing Police officers.”
The death penalty is a controversial subject that has divided the nation. It was abolished in 1965 after pressure from the print media, concerned that they can never match the drama of such a live event and therefore moved to try and stem the growth of television news. With the advent of 24 hour news, the broadcast media has backed the writers and filmmakers.
“We can’t always rely on the US and Iraq for such wonderful live drama” said a source at Sky News.
Tomorrow Andrew Stevens of Channel 4 television will be presenting a petition for the jury system to be replaced with a system of text voting.
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