October 8, 2010

REWIRING:

David Morrissey on Thorne: a British copper, in a US style: David Morrissey wants his new crime series to match American dramas like The Wire (Ed Cumming., 10/08/10, Daily Telegraph)

As well as starring in it as DI Tom Thorne, Morrissey is executive producer, having personally optioned Mark Billingham’s series of crime novels. The books, set in north-east London, have grown steadily in popularity since the release of Sleepyhead in 2001, which was a Top 10 bestseller. Since then, Billingham has become the first author to win the Crime Novel of the Year award twice, both times for Thorne novels: Lazybones in 2005 and Death Message in 2009.

Morrissey explains how he became involved. “I was doing a film in New Zealand, on my own, in winter. I really needed a book. I stumbled across a Thorne novel, liked it, and then I looked up Mark online and found a question-and-answer session where he said that if his books ever made it to the screen, he’d like David Morrissey to play the lead. I thought, ‘That’s a good start.’” Morrissey and Billingham – himself an actor and stand-up comic – hit it off straight away. “We agreed about how to take it forward,” says Morrissey. “The cop drama has always made for good telly, and it will always be there. It makes for a great mixture of the private and the public.”

The pair’s aim was to help expand British crime drama into the kind of action-packed, sharply written territory lately the preserve of American TV. In a statement of intent, they recruited director Stephen Hopkins, who shot much of the first season of 24, as well as the acclaimed drama about a sex-addicted novelist, Californication. Both were heavily stylised, innovative productions. “It was when Stephen came on board that I started to get really excited,” Morrissey says. “It’s his vision. I tried to give him as much freedom as I could.”

Hopkins’s hand is evident throughout: Thorne bears the hallmarks of recent US thrillers – glossy night-time shots of London, shaky hand-held images and rapid-fire scene changes. It takes a while to get used to these effects being turned on London’s grimy East End, but it is clear that a lot of effort has gone into emulating the best US techniques.


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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 8, 2010 12:26 PM
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