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~~Dramatic Hour Long Law Procedural, Dramedy, Britcom~~

File:Rumpole 19.jpg


ITV series, intermittently from 1978 to 1992, following a one-off BBC drama, focused on the professional and personal life of one Horace Rumpole, barrister at law. Rumpole's unhealthy personal habits, disdain for societal expectation, and general sharp-tongued iconoclasm earn him few marks among his peers or family. Despite his successes, he is something of an embarrassment to his class-conscious chambers. At home, he has to endure the well-meaning haranguing of his wife, semi-affectionately referred to by Horace as "She Who Must Be Obeyed", a reference to the H. Rider Haggard novel She -- one of Rumpole's simple vices is a love of English literature. Although ostensibly mysteries in many cases, the cases he undertakes are very unlike the standard Whodunnit, Agatha Christie murder mystery -- in some cases, Rumpole's task is merely to prove how his client didn't commit the crime (more often assault, fraud or theft than out-and-out murder) rather than ferret out the true culprit (although he frequently does so anyway). And, like the Sherlock Holmes cycle, sometimes no crime has really been committed at all.

Yet Rumpole is his own man, and holds dearly to those rules he considers inviolate. Despite the detriment to his career, he never prosecutes. His job is to secure a "not guilty", and this he does with extreme regularity, even if it means antagonizing judges, refusing to make deals, or uncovering more than his client would prefer revealed in court.

The show often strikes a well-balanced, perceptive note between the often ridiculous emphasis to which society demands the appearance of moral behaviour, and how it differs from the common sense, deeply personal, and more authentic morality represented by Rumpole. His mildly amused contempt for the trappings of "polite society" only serve to highlight his profoundly ethical nature.

The character is loosely based on the actual courtroom career of barrister John Mortimer, Rumpole's creator and author, who often took on controversial and "lost hope" causes (such as defending the Sex Pistols' use of the word "Bollocks" on the cover of their one and only album -- he won by proving the word had been used in common and cherished literature as far back as Chaucer).

John Mortimer adapted many of the show's episodes into book form, and after the show was cancelled continued to write and publish new Rumpole stories, which frequently featured plots Ripped from the Headlines, or as close to it as you can get for a book. Many Rumpole stories have also been adapted for BBC Radio.

Compare and contrast Garrows Law, which is much like Rumpole, but IN GEORGIAN LONDON!!


This series contains examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: "Hilda's Story," collected in Rumpole and the Angel of Death.
  • Against My Religion: Frequently invoked/joked about: whatever religion Rumpole follows, it forbids prosecuting and pleading guilty (unless, of course, he knows for a fact that the client did it).
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: In the Play for Today episode, Rumpole slowly realizes that that's how his son regards them.
  • Batman Gambit: Rumpole loves these.
    • Rumpole executes a magnificent one in "Rumpole and the Last Resort." The gambit was focused on the solicitor Blythe, who at once owed Rumpole nearly £2,500 in fees going back as ten years earlier (at a time when Rumpole was late on his utility bills and overdrawn at his bank) and was a material witness in the fraud case he was defending. Blythe was known to hold out payment to barristers until they died, then wheedle the widow into settling the payment for a small fraction of the original fee. On top of that, Blythe had a tendency to have "just slipped out of the office" every time somebody called the office; he was more or less nowhere to be found. After Rumpole fails to convince Judge Bullingham to grant an adjournment in the fraud case to find Blythe, he decides to fake his own death: he collapses in the middle of his application to Bullingham, sends a message to Chambers (supposedly from his wife) informing them that he is dead, and hides in his house for some time (possibly a week or more) until Blythe shows up at the door, offering Mrs. Rumpole the same pittance of a settlement he usually offered. She declines, forces him to sign a check for the exact amount Rumpole was owed, and then lets in Private Detective "Fig" Newton, who hands Blythe a subpoena. Finally, when Blythe is forced to take the stand and the fraud case recommences, Bullingham starts something of a eulogy for Rumpole. At this point, Rumpole appears in the courtroom and begins his questioning of a terrified Blythe. In the meantime, Chambers had gotten rather excited by the prospect of the death of Rumpole, with "Soapy Sam" trying to use it as an excuse to take on Guthrie Featherstone's well-connected nephew, and Claude Erskine-Brown hoping to take possession of Rumpole's umbrella stand: all of which Rumpole heard about and used to make a point about his Chambers.
    • Rumpole executes a few on Ballard, most notably in "Rumpole and the Age of Miracles", where he tricks "Soapy Sam", sitting in judgment in an ecclesiastical court, that the ghost of a saint that supposedly haunts the hotel where they are staying is warning the judge in the case (i.e. Ballard) of a great injustice to come.
    • The trick Liz Probert pulls on Claude Erskine-Brown falls under this, as well (see Mistaken for Gay below).
    • Hilda and Liz Probert join forces in the final episode, "Rumpole on Trial," to trick Rumpole out of giving up his career. All it takes is Hilda detailing all the things they're going to do together now that he's retired.
  • Boarding School: Because Rumpole went to a third-rate public school, he doesn't have an "Old Boy Net"--which turns out to be why Sam Ballard becomes Head of Chambers instead of Rumpole.
  • British Courts: What, are you thick?
  • British Newspapers: Make an occasional appearance. Rumpole is partial to The Times, especially its crossword. Hilda prefers the Evening Telegraph (and its crossword). Papers appear as important points in certain episodes: "Rumpole and the Tap End" features embarrassing reports on a decision of (Mr. Justice) Guthrie Featherstone's in The Evening Standard; "Rumpole and the Bubble Reputation" features Rumpole and Claude Erskine-Brown's dealings with an obvious replacement for The Sun (complete with Page Three Stunna!) called the Beacon. Specifically, Rumpole has to defend the sleazy editor of Beacon on a libel charge (it's a "money brief", with an unspeakably large fee and a £500/day refresher), while Erskine-Brown is caught at a strip club (doing research on his case about a fight at the club some time earlier) by the Beacon photographers and has to deal with the consequences.
  • Bulungi: Narenga, a Central African Commonwealth Realm with complex and often deadly tribal politics, in "Rumpole and the Golden Thread". One of Rumpole's old pupils, who has become Minister of the Interior, invites Rumpole to defend him in a case of capital murder; the absence of a jury--an institution abolished by the British during the colonial period--drives Rumpole mad.
  • Busman's Holiday: "Rumpole at Sea".
  • Butt Monkey: If somebody is getting the short end of the stick, you can bet good money that it's either Claude Erskine-Brown, Guthrie Featherstone, or Sam Ballard.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Samuel "Soapy Sam" Ballard, QC, gets absolutely blotto--as in fall-on-the-floor, can't-remember-how-many-drinks-he's had, crazy drunk--after a mere five glasses of sherry.
  • Can't Stand Them Can't Live Without Them: The ever-antagonistic Rumpoles may not love each other, exactly, but they occasionally show signs of a deep-seated loyalty. Horace learns to dance to make Hilda happy; Hilda fiercely defends Horace in "Rumpole on Trial"; and they prove themselves unbeatable when they join forces in the Batman Gambit discussed above.
  • Casting Gag: Peter Cellier as Sir Frank Fawcett, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, in "Rumpole and the Official Secret", doubtless referencing his recurring role as Permanent Secretary to the Treasury Sir Frank Gordon in Yes Minister.
  • Catch Phrase: the "Golden Thread of British justice" and "never plead guilty" as personal mantras.
  • Celibate Hero: According to the novels, the Rumpoles had sex exactly once, on their honeymoon, which explains how they managed to have a child. Other than that, no, and Horace has only been Mistaken for Cheating.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Just about every episode title.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Naturally all over the place, but a literal one occurs in "Rumpole and the Fascist Beast". The gun is in the titular "fascist beast"'s shed, where he keeps birds, hidden under the bird seed. He commits suicide after his acquittal leads to the local chapter of the party--an obvious stand-in for the BNP--unseating him.
    • Another literal Chekhov's Gun appears in Rumpole and the Show Folk; whilst demonstrating with a gun in court, Rumpole notices that the hammer is extremely prone to going off accidentally when cocked, which becomes relevant when the defendant testifies to the gun going off accidentally in self defence. Subverted when it's revealed the defendant did actually murder the victim in cold blood and was just very good at covering her tracks.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After actor Richard Murdoch's death in 1990, Uncle Tom vanished without an explanation.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Uncle Tom, who hasn't had a brief in anyone's living memory, but still happily potters around Chambers playing golf.
  • Comic Book Time: Rumpole is somewhere in his mid-sixties when first introduced, and never really gets any older. See the Other Wiki for a detailed rundown of the series' flexible chronology.
    • Strangely, this only applies to Rumpole and his wife. The young female lawyer introduced just passing the bar in the first stories is an experienced judge in late middle age by the end, and many other characters also age, retire, and so forth.
  • Continuity Nod: Several, especially later in the series. They often occur when a character who was formerly a regular but now isn't (e.g. Guthrie Featherstone or Phyllida Trant) shows up.
  • Courtroom Antics: And unlike most seen on television, they generally aren't the sort of thing that could get one charged with contempt of court.
  • A Day in Her Apron: Rumpole faces a more realistic form of this when Hilda takes "industrial action" in "The Summer of Discontent." The house doesn't get enough time to go to pot, but Rumpole sets fire to his beef.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rumpole to a tee, in both his life but especially in his style of advocacy.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Rumpole's underhand defeat of Phyllida Trant in their first courtroom encounter in Rumpole and the Married Lady. Referred to quite a bit in later episodes.
  • Drink Order:
    • "A glass of the old cooking wine": Pommeroy's Plonk, Chateau Thames Embankment, Chateau Fleet Street, all names for Rumpole's trademark £2-a-bottle claret.
    • As for Mrs. Rumpole, she'll have a gin and tonic.
    • Henry the clerk is portrayed as ordering a pale, peculiar drink with a lemon slice floating in it at Pommeroy's Wine Bar ("Rumpole and the Last Resort").
    • Claude Erskine-Brown fancies himself a wine connoisseur ("Rumpole and the Blind Tasting").
      • Possibly a case of The Cast Showoff; Julian Curry (who plays Erskine-Brown) is also a noted wine expert.
    • "Soapy Sam" Can't Hold His Liquor, and is thus often found drinking sparkling water.
  • Driven to Suicide: One of the characters in "Rumpole and the Official Secret" winds up throwing himself under a train.
  • Dysfunctional Family: the Rumpoles (particularly obvious in the original teleplay, which was darker in tone than the later episodes).
  • Exact Words: Phyllida Erskine-Brown to Sam Ballard: "I'm leaving the Bar."
  • Exiled to the Couch: Oh, so many times.
    • Hilda does this to Rumpole when she suspects him of having a fling with the young girlfriend of an elderly artist. Unfairly, of course: he was just at a pub to collect evidence.
    • Rumpole exiles himself after a particular disastrous night at the Scales of Justice Ball, where he tells a "blue" story that offends both Hilda and the judge he was sitting next to. He ends up living in chambers for a while, to Ballard's displeasure, forcing him to move in with the Erskine-Browns. Eventually the Erskine-Browns get fed up with him (and he gets fed up with young Tristan and Isolde Erskine-Brown's incessant complaints about his smoking), and he ends his self-imposed exile...but not before he forces Ballard to spend a night at chambers himself.
    • Claude Erskine-Brown eventually is himself forced to live with Rumpole after the "Kitten a-Go-Go" flap ("Rumpole and the Bubble Reputation"); at first Hilda takes great delight in annoying Rumpole with Erskine-Brown's holier-than-thou habits, but she eventually tires of his incessant playing of opera tapes.
  • Faking the Dead: See Batman Gambit above.
  • Fake American: Most of the American characters on the show were not played by Americans; their American Accents tended to be a bit on the "meh" side, although the one playing young Nick Rumpole's American wife had an extremely bad case of Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.
  • Fake Brit: Most notably, Australian Leo McKern as the emphatically English Rumpole. Of course, McKern had been living in England since 1946, so it's not quite that bad; his English accent was impeccable.
  • Fawlty Towers Plot: A good number of the B-Plots fall into this category. The one about sexual harassment in "Rumpole and the Eternal Triangle" fits particularly well.
  • Female Misogynist: During one of his complaints about the various unreasonable judges he has to work with, Rumpole singles out a female judge as a worse male chauvinist than any of the men.
  • Fiery Redhead: Phyllida (Trant) Erskine-Brown and the first Liz Probert definitely qualify. Either of them in wigs constitutes legal Fetish Fuel.
  • Flanderization: At the beginning of the series, Claude Erskine-Brown is a somewhat pompous but nevertheless effective barrister. By the end, he's an incompetent and completely un-self-aware milquetoast. Lampshaded when Erskine-Brown complains to Rumpole about how he's been reduced to "scraping the bottom of your [i.e. Rumpole's] barrel."
    • Also, Mr. Justice Oliphant went from mentioning "common sense" and his blunt Northern heritage once or twice a trial to practically every line.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Phyllida Erskine-Brown exploits Sam Ballard's sexual hypocrisy in order to get Claude his promotion to QC.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: How Marguerite ("Matey") gets Sam Ballard to marry her.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Sam Ballard.
  • For Your Own Good: In "Rumpole and the Reform of Joby Jonson," Sam Ballard, in an uncharacteristic Hurricane of Puns, kindly explains to Claude Erskine-Brown that no, he couldn't possibly recommend Claude for promotion to QC. The result is an equally uncharacteristic What the Hell, Hero?.
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Subverted. While it is true that almost all of Rumpole's clients that we see are in fact innocent of the crime they're on trial for, they are very frequently guilty of some other crime. This is particularly true of the Timsons, a clan of South London "minor villains" who make their living off of petty larceny and fencing, and whose fees seem to pay a fair chunk of Rumpole's own bills.
    • We also don't see most of Rumpole's cases (the series being very irregular), of which he presumably loses a fair number. He also loses a few other cases that we do see.
    • And finally, the one time Rumpole's client admits to him that she was guilty, he immediately says that he can't help her defense any longer and advises that she change her plea to guilty.
    • There's also one Downer Ending where Rumpole's client tells him after he's got her off that she was in fact guilty and thanks to the double jeopardy rule there's nothing he can do about it.
  • Hanging Judge: Mr Justice Roger "the Mad Bull" Bullingham
    • "Rumpole and the Sporting Life" features an unusual and literal example in the elderly Mr Justice Twyburne, who once sentenced a man to hang for killing a policeman. The man was later proven innocent, a fact which has preyed on Twyburne's conscience ever since.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: here's at least one episode of wherein Rumpole, after a night of "carousing" with Henry the clerk, has to come in to court shading his eyes.
  • "Happy Ending" Massage: "Rumpole and the Judge's Elbow". Featherstone, presiding in this case, thinks he went to a parlor where these were provided, although he didn't partake and wasn't even aware of the possibility. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Harmless Villain: The Timson clan, very, very low-level crooks ("minor villains" is what Rumpole likes to call them) whom Rumpole defends on a regular basis (they appear to be his primary source of income, and at one point he refers to himself as being "DT--Defender of the Timsons.").
  • Henpecked Husband: Sam Ballard and, of course, Rumpole.
    • Arguably, Claude Erskine-Brown is in the same boat, but Phyllida tries to be subtler about it.
  • High Class Call Girl: Played with in "Rumpole and the Old Boy Net": Rumpole's clients were a middle-aged couple who ran a brothel for a high-class clientele. None of the actual prostitutes were in any way significant, and they weren't call girls (working as they were at a brothel), but the general idea (of a high-class prostitute) applies.
  • The Humphrey: Rumpole is a heroic variation- he knows and exploits the politics and follies of the legal system, but tries to pursue justice when possible.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender: Rumpole is a variation in that his wife is disappointed that he hasn't achieved greater financial and career success, nor become head of chambers like her father was. Rumpole, on the other hand, is perfectly happy where he is, and has no interest in becoming a "Queer Customer" or "Circus Judge."
  • In Da Club: Bizarrely and briefly. Phyllida Trant talks Claude Erskine-Brown (then just her boyfriend) into going to a fairly typical disco club after what was for her a thoroughly bored night at the opera, where they find none other than Guthrie Featherstone dancing in a tiger-print shirt with Angela, one of the junior clerks at chambers. Well, it was 1979.
  • Incestuous Casting: Averted when Mrs. Rumpole suspects Horace of cheating on her with Liz Probert in later seasons; Probert was played by Abigail McKern, Leo McKern's daughter, but Rumpole wasn't having an affair with Probert in the first place.
  • Irregular Series
  • Justified Criminal: Most pitiably, a music hall singer who murdered her violently abusive husband, only to find herself years later on the same cruise ship with the judge who presided over her trial.
  • Large Ham: Rumpole's modus operandi for much of his dealings with other people, and particularly his advocacy. He's called out on it by some theatrical actors in Rumpole and the Show Folk.
  • Last-Name Basis: Most everybody with respect to everybody else. Vanishingly few people call Rumpole "Horace;" not even Hilda.
    • This is actually accepted practice amongst many members of the Bar, first names generally only being used between barristers who are on a very informal footing.
  • Lame Rhyme Dodge: Rumpole's habit of talking to himself frequently asserts itself at the wrong time, leading to some rapid backtracking.

 Horace Rumpole: [under his breath] She who must be...

Hilda Rumpole: What?

Horace Rumpole: I said "trust me," Hilda. I shall always be a staunch supporter of women's rights.

  • Lethal Chef: Rumpole, as evidenced by the flaming bits of meat in "Rumpole and the Summer of Discontent."
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Sam Ballard, Guthrie Featherstone, and even Rumpole himself.
    • Subverted with Claude Erskine-Brown, who attempts to cheat and fails miserably.
    • And averted once with Featherstone, who actually was cheating with Angela (the left-wing junior clerk).
  • Mistaken for Gay: One of Liz Probert's boyfriends (Dave Inchcape) makes it into Chambers because Claude Erskine-Brown believes that he's gay.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: "Rumpole and the Quality of Life."
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Phyllida (Trant) Erskine-Brown keeps having to correct people who think her name is "Phyllis".
  • The Nicknamer: Rumpole himself.
    • He of course calls Hilda "She Who Must Be Obeyed."
    • He gives Phyllida Trant the nickname "Portia" (or more completely, "the Portia of our chambers"), after Portia in The Merchant of Venice".
    • He gives Samuel Ballard the honor of not one but two nicknames: "Soapy Sam" (referring to Samuel Wilberforce, a famous public speaker and defender of Christianity in the late 19th century) and the rather less complimentary "Bollard."
    • He calls Liz Probert "Miz Liz". Guess why.
    • He repeatedly calls the young Charles Hearthstoke "Hearthrug." To his face.
    • The solicitor Mr Bernard (who usually handles the Timsons' cases, among others) is known to Rumpole as "Bonny Bernard".
    • He creates a couple of private nicknames for several of the recurring judges. The notable ones are:
      • Judge Roger "The Mad Bull" Bullingham.
      • Mr. Justice Gerald Graves, called by Rumpole "Mr Justice Gravestone" and at on least one occasion "Mr Injustice Death's Head".
  • Nipple-and-Dimed: Averted with a vengeance in "Rumpole and the Bubble Reputation," where you can see all of the stripper's...goods (to use the Beacon reporter's terminology) very clearly, alongside Claude Erskine-Brown's expression of obvious discomfort combined with perverse fascination. Of course, Rumpole aired after the Watershed, so it was OK.
  • No Secret Societies Were Harmed: The "Ostlers" of the (fictional) town of Gunster in "Rumpole and the Right to Silence" bear a (lampshaded) resemblance to the Freemasons.
  • Noodle Incident: Rumpole's greatest professional success, the case of the Penge Bungalow Murders, was a Noodle Incident for almost three decades before recently being told in a novel suprisingly named Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders.
  • No Party Given: Averted where applicable.
    • The third episode, "Rumpole and the Honourable Member", features an MP clearly identified as Labour accused of rape by his left-wing "Trot" campaign worker.
    • Another episode, "Rumpole and the Fascist Beast", subverts this by having Rumpole defending a far-right politician from the "British Patriots," which doesn't exist but is clearly based on the British National Party.
    • Guthrie Featherstone QC MP is clearly identified as having joined the Social Democratic Party shortly before becoming a judge, implying that he had previously been a Labour MP.
    • Charles Hearthstoke self-identifies as a Tory when discussing radical change at chambers with...
    • Liz Probert, daughter of "Red Ron" Probert, a left-wing Labour leader of a North London borough council; she takes after her father. As for why Hearthstoke was talking to Probert about change in the chambers, he argued that the fact they were both young would make them both favor modernisation. However, it's pretty clear that he just wants to get into her pants (or is it her robes when discussing barristers?).
    • Phyllida Trant, while chewing out her then-boyfriend Claude Erskine-Brown, mentions his "inexplicable approval of Mrs Thatcher" (or something to that effect) as one thing she's willing to accept, implying that Erskine-Brown is a Tory (of course, who's surprised about that) and that Phyllida isn't.
  • No Sense of Humor: Sam Ballard and, often, Claude Erskine-Brown. Ballard's humorlessness is usually of the Literal Minded variety.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Rumpole occasionally uses this when he's trying to get something, especially if he's trying to get it from Hilda.
  • Office Golf: Uncle Tom's primary occupation, besides making bizarre comments at Chambers meetings and completely misunderstanding anything anyone says within earshot of him.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper: Detective Inspector Brush, depicted most negatively.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: T. C. Rowley, called Uncle Tom by even an ultra-stuffy character like Ballard.
  • Oop North: Mr. Justice Oliphant is very proud of being from there, and it drives Rumpole to distraction.
  • The Other Darrin: Liz Probert, Hilda Rumpole, and recurring character Mr. Bernard.
  • Properly Paranoid: Hilda in "Rumpole and the Reform of Joby Jonson," as Rumpole concedes at the end.
  • Rank Up: Phyllida Trant begins the series as a junior barrister and ends it as a High Court judge.
  • Real Life Relative: the second Liz Probert, Abigail McKern--a.k.a. the daughter of Rumpole himself, Leo McKern.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A number of storylines are a Whole-Plot Reference lifted from the headlines; for instance Rumpole and the Children of the Devil tackled the spurious accusations of ritual Satanic abuse that created a moral panic.
  • Running Gag: A few of those, yes.
    • "Speaking as a man with daughters...."
    • Hilda's obsession with her "Daddy", C. H. Wystan.
    • Claude Erskine-Brown's obsession with Opera; Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg gets mentioned a lot.
  • Satchel Switcheroo: Rumpole accidentally walks off with Uncle Tom's briefcase, discovering the switch only when he opens it. In court. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Second Face Smoke: Rumpole does this to some of the more priggish characters, especially Ballard.
  • Sexless Marriage: The Rumpoles (see Celibate Hero above). "Rumpole at Sea" suggests that this may not entirely be Hilda's doing.
  • Shout-Out/To Shakespeare: Several, and hardly surprising given Rumpole's love of English literature.
  • Silent Snarker: A lot of Rumpole's snark is actually delivered in voiceovers, audible only to viewers. One of the running gags is the frequent discrepancy between Rumpole's internal snarking and his external restraint.

 Solicitor: What do you think of the prosecution, Mr. Rumpole?

Rumpole (voiceover): I think if it were conducted by a nervous first-year law student with a serious speech impediment they'd still get a conviction.

Rumpole (aloud): Well, we do face certain difficulties. (Rumpole and the Old, Old Story)

  • Straight Man: Just about everybody plays this part for Rumpole.
  • Straw Feminist: Liz Probert (mostly in the later novels and short stories).
  • The Summation
  • Taking the Heat: "Rumpole and the Sporting Life"
  • Theme Naming: Claude and Phyllida's children are named Tristan and Isolde.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Rumpole's attitude towards prosecuting, taking silk, and becoming a judge. He is tempted, every now and then, but he always falls back to his old habits.
  • Token Minority: Lampshaded and eventually subverted in Rumpole and the Fascist Beast; Rumpole takes on Indian Latif Khan as a pupil, much to the surprise of everyone in chambers and to the disgust of his racist defendant (it's left unclear as to whether Rumpole deliberately took on an Indian to either annoy his client or make his client look better in court). However, it's clear that Khan has been coerced up the ladder by his rich father and he's dismissive of Phyllida after she attempts to bond with him over their "oppressed minority" status... because she's a woman.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Pretty much every episode features an A plot--the case of the week--and a B plot revolving around some intrigue in chambers, or some intrigue in Rumpole's household.
  • Twisting the Words: Inversion or Subversion, depending on your perspective: Rumpole often asks witnesses on the stand who heard someone say something or another if they were sure it had the emphasis they recalled.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Sam Ballard has a habit of falling for the traps Rumpole lays for him.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: John Mortimer has said that Rumpole is not an Author Avatar (Mortimer was both a QC and prosecuted) but all the characters are composites of people that he knew throughout his time at the Bar.
  • Video Inside Film Outside: Eventually dropped, in Season 4, when it went all-video.
  • Worthy Opponent: Often stated by Rumpole whenever he's up against a good barrister.
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