Common follows four young men who, in sheer panic, quickly flee from the scene of a fatal stabbing. The drama focuses on how the so callled Joint Enterprise or Common Purpose law (a 300 year old law which forms the basis of the felony murder statute in the US) suggests that the prosecution do not need to prove that the defendant knew that a violent crime was about to occur, the fact that they had knowledge or foresight of another person’s intent, or were present and failed to stop it. The lives of theses four young men, the lives of those they love and the lives of the victim’s family will never be the same again. The one off drama is being produced by LA Productions with Poly Hill, Colin McKeown and Jimmy McGovern serving as executive producers. Casting is currently underway and the film will enter production in 2013.
Speaking of Common, Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, said: “Common is an ambitious and controversial film by award-winning writer Jimmy McGovern. Much in the same way as Hillsborough and Sunday, he wanted to write this film after talking to the families of those directly affected by the joint enterprise law. We believe it is right for the BBC to give writers such as Jimmy an opportunity to tell a story like this, and to allow the audience to make up their own minds about it.”
While Jimmy McGovern added: “Joint Enterprise was first used in Britain’s courts a few hundred years ago. It was designed to stop the aristocracy duelling. If one duelist killed another then all involved in that duel (the seconds and the surgeons) were charged with murder. It worked. Britain’s aristocrats stopped duelling. Now the law is being used against Britain’s youth. If someone dies in a fight and you’re involved in any way whatsoever, you could find yourself charged with murder. And, if you do, Heaven help you because the burden of proof required in joint enterprise cases is frighteningly low.”