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Who is Judge Rinder?

From barrister to Strictly dancer to Christmas star, here’s everything you need to know about the TV judge

Published: Wednesday, 26th December 2018 at 3:02 pm

He may be best known as the Simon Cowell of the Bench, with his scathing commentary cutting through courtroom legalese – but we may be seeing a warmer side to the otherwise frosty Judge Rinder.


Swapping the gavel for the grotto, Rinder is peppered throughout our festive schedules fronting two of his own shows over Christmas – one being Judge Rinder’s Christmas Kids’ Court, weighing in on children’s playground squabbles, and the other being Rob Rinder’s Good Year Bad Year. The latter will see the judge cast an unflinching eye over the events of 2018 and weigh up whether it was a good year or a bad one – in a bid for Channel 4 to fill the Charlie Brooker-shaped hole in this year’s festive schedules.

But who is the man beyond the courtroom? Here’s everything you need to know.

When Judge Rinder was just Robert…

Born in London on 31st May 1978, Robert Rinder was called to the bar in 2001 after studying politics and history at the University of Manchester.

As a lawyer, Rinder specialised in financial crimes, corruption and fraud, but has also worked on other criminal cases such as defending British servicemen on charges of manslaughter in Iraq.

Outside of work, Rinder was passionate about acting, having joined the National Youth Theatre as a teenager – something he soon turned his back on when he went up against good friend (and Manchester University contemporary) Benedict Cumberbatch.

“I though I’d done well, then I saw him deliver exactly the same lines and it was so different,” he told the Radio Times in 2016.

“He had a fizz, a chemistry and an understanding of the text that you just knew was what the writer wanted it to sound like.”

Still close to the Sherlock actor, Cumberbatch ordained Rinder’s marriage to Seth Cumming in 2013 – while Rinder was one of Cumberbatch’s three Best Men at his wedding to Sophie Hunter two years later.

How did Rob Rinder get into television?

Rinder would write television scripts in his spare time while working as a barrister, an endeavour that saw him being introduced to producer Tom McLennan.

With ITV looking to create a British version of American hit show Judge Judy, McLennan suggested Rinder to front the programme – with Rinder becoming the face of the show since 2014.

While based on Judge Judy, Rinder has been more critical of his American counterparts.

“One of the things about Judge Judy, although she is brilliant, is that she comes on with a preconceived idea of how she’s going to rule,” he said on This Morning in 2014.

“Although I get a taster beforehand, we draw the narrative out so people do have an opportunity to tell their story. It’s slightly different, we get an opportunity to see both sides of the story.”

The show initially drew criticism for making a mockery of the seriousness that dictates legal proceedings, but with characteristic wit, Rinder responded in an interview with law publication Legal Cheek, “I’ll let you be the judge of that.”

Rinder was a huge hit with viewers - with his acerbic comments and delivering his verdicts with camp flourish, Judge Rinder saw 1.2 million viewers tuning in every afternoon, an unprecedented rise for a daytime slot.

His popularity saw Rinder then move beyond afternoon TV, fronting shows in prime-time slots.

What is Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories?

In 2016, Rinder stepped out from behind the bench to cast his eye over shocking real-life cases.

With reconstructions of the crimes in question, Rinder will look over each case with fresh eyes as he overlooks the background, the police investigation and the journey to trial, with Rinder delivering his verdict on the case.

When was Judge Rinder on Strictly Come Dancing?

Rinder took part in the 14th series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2016 – the legendary series which saw Ed Balls attempt to dance.

Paired with pro dancer Oksana Platero, Rinder said he had entered the competition to make his grandmother proud of him.

Judge Rinder

Proving himself to be rather nimble-footed when out of his robes, Rinder came fifth in the competition, bowing out in week 11 after his samba to Oh, What a Night failed to impress the judges.

“I’m a private, secret dancer. I love to dance,” he told the BBC. “There’s just something magincal about the show.”

Did Judge Rinder appear in the Crown Court reboot?

After a 30-year absence, Rinder fronted the Christmas reboot of Crown Court in 2017, now titled Judge Rinder’s Crown Court.

The case examined was inspired by a real-life arsenic poisoning, as it follows the story of a man who is accused of killing his wife.

Judge Rinder in Crown Court on ITV

Speaking about the new show, Rinder told What’s On TV in 2017, “I wanted it to be an authentic experience, to give viewers a glimpse of what it’s like to serve on a jury.

“I am not the judge. My role is to guide the viewers, like judges in real crown court cases guide juries. So I tell viewers to reject evidence if they don’t think it is compelling.”

When was Judge Rinder on Who Do You Think You Are?

Rinder appeared in the most recent series of Who Do You Think You Are?, broadcast this year. In the moving episode, he follows the story of his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, and traces his family roots to Poland and Latvia.


“Doing the show changed my life,” he said in an interview earlier this year.

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