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Clips (5)

  1. Part one of four from this full length episode.

  2. Part two of four from this full length episode.

  3. Part three of four from this full length episode.

  4. Part four of four from this full length episode.


Dunedin barrister Alf Hanlon’s first — and most famous — defence case was the first episode in this award-winning drama series about his career. In 1895, alleged baby farmer Minnie Dean was charged with murdering two infants in her care. Hanlon’s inspired manslaughter defence was undermined by the judge’s direction to the jury; and Dean became the only woman to be hanged in NZ. Hanlon vowed none of his future clients would ever suffer this fate. Emmy-nominated and a major critical success, the episode contributed to a re-evaluation of Dean’s conviction.

Credits (35)

 Wayne Tourell
 Lex Van Os
 Ken Catran

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Comments (6)



I loved this series so much! I did an assignment on this episode at high school, much to the annoyance of my teacher who wasn't really looking for such a macabre subject. PLEASE put it on DVD.



As a Southlander, Minnie Dean's story is part of our history. The places in the story have gone, but some of the locations, the courtroom and the prison where she was hanged are still known. Her hatbox is located at the museum at Riverton, but no other artifacts are known to exist. This is a very informative TV series and adds some light to the story of Minnie Dean.

 Hugh Lavelle

Hugh Lavelle

Why won't somebody put this series on dvd?



This was very helpful to me. I am writing a drama monologue for a school assessment on Minnie and this really helped me to visualise the situation.



Where can one purchase this series. Is it on DVD?

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In the series, we show Hanlon’s human side. He’s not only a great orator in court, he’s also a bit of a bastard. 
I liked the ironic despair with which it invested a lot of the protagonist’s triumphs. I liked also the other irony — that the plots would have had only 60% of their impact if they had been set in a society without death row. 
I wanted to look at some of the social issues that were around then and still crop up now — racial prejudice, de facto relationships, and, dare I say it, we touch on homosexuality. I just wonder if that episode will go to air when they are doing the vote. 


1986 GOFTA Awards
Best Drama Programme
Best Director: Wayne Tourell
Best Writer, Drama: Ken Catran
Best Female Performance in a Dramatic Role: Robyn Nevin

Best Male Performance in a Dramatic Role: David Gwillim (for the whole series)
Best Original Music: Terry Gray (for the series)

1986 International Emmy Awards (United States) 
Series nominated (one of three) for Best Overseas Drama