Michael Sheen stars in a drama about an notorious confrontation between a high-profile determine with a probing thoughts and one other who used underhanded strategies to additional their very own pursuits. Is it Frost/Nixon? No, that is Vardy v Rooney: A Courtroom Drama, Channel 4’s two-part re-enactment of the superstar libel case dubbed the Wagatha Christie trial.

The present’s title is fairly self-explanatory, however for many who in some way had higher issues to do than comply with the feud between two footballers’ wives, additional context may be required. The story revolves round an unsuccessful lawsuit introduced by Rebekah Vardy (spouse of Leicester Metropolis striker Jamie Vardy) in opposition to Coleen Rooney (married to former England captain Wayne), after the latter publicly accused her in 2019 of leaking non-public Instagram posts to the press.

Rooney did so after setting an ingenious lure whereby pretend updates revealed on her private account have been made seen to fewer and fewer followers. When fabrications shared with solely Vardy discovered their approach into The Solar newspaper, Rooney named and shamed the alleged wrongdoer on Twitter with the now immortal phrases: “It’s . . . Rebekah Vardy’s account.” 

In Could this 12 months, as proceedings started, the FT in contrast the “vanity case” to an inglorious West Finish present. Since then, the trial — a readily saleable assembly of lowbrow scandal and Excessive Courtroom gravitas — has impressed an precise West Finish play and now a TV adaptation based mostly nearly totally on condensed court docket transcripts.

Natalia Tena and Márton Nagyszokolyai as Rebekah and Jamie Vardy © Channel 4

Sheen performs David Sherborne, a celeb barrister (in each senses) who represents the self-made sleuth Rooney (Chanel Cresswell) and presents Vardy (Natalia Tena) as somebody who sought to revenue from any sordid story she got here throughout. As Vardy desperately tries to clarify away texts to her agent about proposed leaks as jokes or misunderstandings — or, worse nonetheless, acts of public service — it turns into clear that the entire trial is a disastrous personal objective.

Those that discover the entire matter egregiously trivial may nonetheless benefit from the spectacle of watching a high lawyer tie somebody in knots. The function of Sherborne calls for little greater than fluency, rhetorical aptitude and a contact of smug bravado — all of which Sheen provides effortlessly. Others could really feel sympathy for the 2 ladies whose self-absorption and self-promotion could also be unedifying, however hardly extra so than the widespread and seemingly class-based sneering it elicits — not least from the barristers.

To its credit score, the present doesn’t sensationalise occasions additional with speculative out-of-court scenes. However the extra we watch individuals parsing WhatsApp messages and scrutinising emojis, the extra conscious we’re that this doesn’t fairly have the identical dramatic weight as, say, the OJ Simpson trial. Nonetheless, as an alternative choice to festive programming it’s . . . a fairly entertaining account.


On Channel 4 on December 21 and 22 at 9pm, and on All4 thereafter


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