UK TV court show that aims to outshine its American rival

Judge Rinder has taken over the day-time TV crown.
Judge Rinder has taken over the day-time TV crown.
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ITV’s court show Judge Rinder took over daytime telly in 2014, following in the footsteps of America’s Judge Judy. After a successful first series, Robert Rinder, the flamboyant barrister-cumTV judge, is set for another 100 episodes, starting early January.

It’s fair to say Judge Rinder has taken the daytime telly crown. The reality court show’s first series racked up the ratings and Robert Rinder, the face of the show, couldn’t be happier. “People have responded to the fact that there are real legal issues at the heart of the show, done in an entertaining way,” says Rinder. “I was really pleased that people responded to the authenticity... and I’m really excited for the next series, which is even bigger and even better.”

Rinder’s day job – as a barrister in the City with an international practice – means he had little time to catch up on Judge Judy and his rival court shows before filming began. Today, while Rinder can see “where people draw the parallels,” he finds one major difference between his namesake show and its American equivalents.

“Most of the American shows are half an hour and ours is an hour. So we really allow the narrative of the litigants to emerge and evolve. One of the happiest moments for me has been people responding to the fact that sometimes you’ll look at a case and start with a really strong opinion in favour of one litigant. Then, as the story evolves you change your mind - which is also of course what so often happens in court.”

When the cameras are turned off, Rinder is back to the legal day job and is resolute on the qualities of a good judge.

“Firstly, understanding what the law is.

“A lot of people were disappointed with the Oscar Pistorius case judgment because perhaps it wasn’t the outcome people instinctively wanted. But if you follow the logic though of that judgement – which I have read – then whatever you think of the outcome, that particular judge followed the law.

“The second is judgment – what is the issue at hand?

“Very often you’re got an argument between two people and you have to understand whether they’ve actually got a legal issue or not.

“Thirdly, having human understanding and empathy.

“That’s enormously important. We’re not just robots up there, what we’re doing is really trying to access a true human story and seeing where the truth lies.”

Filmed in Manchester, Judge Rinder has been praised for bringing small court proceedings into popular culture.

Judge Rinder airs weekdays at 2pm on ITV from 5th Jan

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