THERE’S nothing new about legal dramas on TV.

If you are the wrong side of 50 you might even remember Perry Mason.

Then through the 1970s there was lacklustre daytime series Crown Court.

So the programme makers who had to sell the concept of BBC1’s Silk must have known they would have to do a convincing job to secure a prime-time slot.

And, to be fair, they have done.

There’s a top notch cast mix with Bolton’s Maxine Peake as gritty leading QC Martha Costello and Rupert Pendry-Jones as posh, amorous barrister Clive Reader.

They are complemented by Neil Stuke as chief clerk Billy Lamb and Phil Davis as the rather menacing criminals’ defence lawyer of choice, Micky Joy.

This week’s episode had the lot.

Billy had to sort out prostate cancer; Micky was smashing glasses and piling on emotional pressure to get Martha to defend his murderous gangster and Clive was trying to separate his love and working lives.

On top of that there were two cases involving relevant social issues — a young Muslim woman battling against her father and brother and a bid to save a man from execution because the UK is the last court of appeal for Caribbean states which still have the death penalty.

But it works because of two things — top actors and first-class writing.