September 25, 2010


Peter Robinson on DCI Banks's TV debut: As DCI Banks reaches TV, crime writer Peter Robinson explains his hero’s origins and why he cast Stephen Tompkinson. (Peter Robinson, 21 Sep 2010, Daily Telegraph)

‘So what is different about Banks?’ prospective producers always asked me. It was a hard question to answer. He’s very much an ‘everyman’ type of character, which is why so many readers can identify with him. He’s no super sleuth or hard man, simply a flawed, passionate, occasionally naïve and sometimes deeply insightful man. He is divorced, and had a brief romance with his co-worker, DI Annie Cabbot. Women like him, but he’s no Brad Pitt or Daniel Craig.

When I started writing the DCI Banks novels in the early Eighties, it was partly from a passion for crime fiction and partly a way of staving off the homesickness I was feeling. I was at York University, in Toronto, writing my PhD dissertation on ‘the sense of place in contemporary British poetry’. Stealing a few midnight hours to write a crime novel after a day of dry academic prose seemed a deliciously sinful indulgence. And though I was thousands of miles away from home, in my study in the dark, through the words I wrote, I could imagine myself back in Yorkshire.

At last a publisher called me in to talk. I was broke, and the bus only went as far as the edge of the city, while the publisher’s offices were in a new commercial development a mile or so beyond. It was a bitterly cold January day, with winds direct from the North Pole, and I had to walk the rest. I remember ducking into shop or office doorways to escape the cold for a few moments as my legs became more and numb, until I couldn’t feel them at all. Somehow I made it to the nice warm office, and I began to feel much better when they gave me strong coffee, a taxi chit home and a two-book contract.

Twenty-five years later, when Left Bank, who had the most recent TV option, told me things were starting to move in a positive direction, my first inclination was to steer well clear. It seemed most sensible to leave the whole thing to the professionals. I did, however, read Robert Murphy’s script, and thought it read like an excellent TV police drama.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2010 6:16 AM
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