The Jury: Murder Trial – filmed in Essex for Channel 4

“We used Shire Hall for an ambitious Channel 4 courtroom TV series as the courtroom and building helped shape the character and visual style of the series. "

“The British jury system – judgement by twelve of one’s peers – is shrouded in secrecy, but does that only serve to cover up flaws in the system? The Jury: Murder Trial will examine the jury system for the first time on British television by recreating an entire, real murder trial from the original transcripts in front of two randomly selected juries, neither of whom are aware of the other. Filmed over ten days, in a former courthouse in Essex, the series will take a forensic look at the inner workings of justice.”

ScreenDog Productions


Monday 26 February 2024 sees the debut of a new TV show which sets out to examine the British jury system and one of our county’s landmarks helped make it happen.

Located at the top of the high street in Chelmsford’s newly developed Tindall Square, Shire Hall is an impressive disused courthouse dating back to 1791. Although, more recently it has played host to some of the hottest shows on TVincluding the recent hit, Mr Bates Vs the Post Office.

In the Spring of 2023, the Essex Film Office were approached by ScreenDog productions, who have made TV shows starring famous faces, such as Stacey Dooley and Steve Backshall.

The Screen Dog team needed help finding a unique filming location for a new show based on the reenactment of a true-life criminal trial.

Ed Kellie, Creative Director at Screendog, said: We wanted to be inside the jury room of a real and complex murder case, exploring how a jury works and if verdicts really are as reliable as we are led to believe.”

The show enlists members of the public to  hear the case of a man who admits he killed his wife, but whose defence maintains that he lost control and is therefore not guilty of murder.

Actors playing the role of the judge and barristers recreate the trial in front of the jury. However, and here’s the plot twist, there are two juries who watch the trial at the same time but who are unaware of each other.

The purpose of the new show The Jury: Murder Trial is to delve into the secretive world of the jury system and to explore just how much external factors can influence a jury’s decision.

For the social experiment to work neither jury could know of the others existence or be able to communicate with each other in anyway and this is where Shire Hall was the perfect location.

Boasting two large courtrooms, function rooms and a ballroom – which was the largest in Essex when it was built – spread over three floors, the sheer size of the building meant that the production were able to recreate the trial whilst moving two juries around the building in complete secrecy. Not to mention providing space for the production team, caterers, set builders and costume departments.

Ed Kellie, Creative Director at Screendog, said; We used Shire Hall for an ambitious Channel 4 courtroom TV series as the courtroom and building helped shape the character and visual style of the series. There are other courts around, but I can’t think of any so elegant and spacious. The Essex Film Office were excellent and accommodating and this was an important factor in our decision. Shire Hall is also very unusual in that it’s built in the style of a crown court and is complete with jury boxes.”

The show was filmed over 10 days but the preparation started weeks in advance with custom made sets being constructed onsite. This included two separate deliberation rooms for each jury and a specially designed jury box which allowed the two juries to watch the trial at the same time, all while remaining unaware of the others existence.

Erica Gilson, Manager, Essex Film Office, said: “It was an absolute pleasure working with the team at Screendog. They completely transformed the interior of the jury rooms with their sets, even constructing a secret jury box which looked amazing, all while being sensitive to the buildings listed status.”

“Getting the permissions required to allow the show to be filmed at the Shire Hall site meant we had to jump through a few hoops, but the teams at Essex County Council, Chelmsford City Council and all of the shops and business next to Shire Hall were fantastic and showed just how film friendly Essex is.”

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “Following the recent ITV drama ‘Mr Bates Vs the Post Office’ which saw Shire Hall starring as a location for the filming, we are delighted that Essex is once again featuring in a TV show. Filming activity brings a wealth of benefits from production spend benefitting  local hotels and businesses, through to providing opportunities for local cast and crew. It can even attract tourists who we know will visit a place if they have seen it on the screen.

“Essex has so much to offer film productions from natural landscapes like those seen in the ‘Essex Serpent’ through to urban townscapes and unique buildings such as Shire Hall. Since launching the Essex Film Office we have seen an increase in film and TV activity taking place throughout the county and look forward to welcoming further cast and crews into Essex in the future.”

The Jury: Murder Trial will air over four nights on Channel 4, starting on Monday 26 February at 9.00pm.

View the promo here

Channel 4 Press Release

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