Heartman and Callan reboot in development for TV

Leicester author MP Wright sees his debut novel Heartman turned into new BBC1 series and is asked to script a modern update of 70s classic Callan.

Heartman HiRes CMYKYOU MAY not have heard of MP Wright, but in coming months you probably will. His first novel, Heartman, has just been released to acclaim from reviewers and is nominated for four Crime Writers’ Association awards. It’s a compelling tale about a Barbadian ex-policeman in 1960s Bristol and has created such a stir that it’s been snapped up by World Productions and has made a very busy man of Wright, 50, a former mental health and probation service worker.

Heartman is now in the hands of award-winning playwright and TV dramatist Tony Marchant, who was responsible for the excellent Garrow’s Law, and could be before the cameras before the end of the year, with a slot on BBC1 at the ready.

It’s a fascinating mystery focusing on JT Ellington, who has fled his home in the Caribbean after his life was ruined in a struggle against a powerful drug baron and corrupt police bosses. He winds up in Bristol, broke during a freezing 1965 winter, when he is approached by a rich Jamaican businessman in the city and asked to find a missing girl. This takes Ellington, an outsider in a hostile world of prejudice, into a dark conspiracy among the town’s elite. The TV project is rumoured to be attracting the attention of some major actors keen to get on board.

Further Heartman episodes planned

‘World Productions optioned Heartman before I had a book deal,’ the author tells me. ‘Producers, Simon Heath and Jake Lushington were eager to get the tone right and have worked tirelessly to bring in a great team. Our script is written by BAFTA
award-winning dramatist and playwright Tony Marchant, and we have a BBC 1 slot for the drama to be shown in two parts. World will be working on the other Ellington books – All Through The Night, The Restless Coffins and The Rivers
Of Blood.’

Edward Woodward as Callan

Edward Woodward as Callan

As if working on writing and editing the proofs for all these stories, Mark Wright’s whirlwind success has also seen him offered another exciting opportunity – to develop a modern version of Callan, ITV’s gritty early 70s series about a government hitman played by Edward Woodward.

‘Last autumn I was approached by the James Mitchell estate [creator of When The Boat Comes In and Callan],’ Mark explains. ‘I have been asked to reboot Callan and I’m currently working on a pilot script called One Shot, One Kill, which will bring the self-hating, bolshy, British government assassin back out of the shadows.

‘All the series regulars are set to return – Hunter/Charlie, Toby Meres, Snell and of course, Lonely. All brought to life in a contemporary and gritty setting. It’s a challenge but its looking good, if I say so myself.’

CrimeTimePreview will post a full interview with MP Wright about these new series this weekend…

Murder in Successville, BBC3, coming soon

Murder in Successville - TX: n/a - Episode: Dr Death (No. 5): Kimberley Wyatt

Kimberly Wyatt in episode 5

The crime genre is about to get roughed up by BBC3’s new and barmy comedy six-parter Murder in Successville. It’s described as ‘genre-busting’, but is it side-splitting? Well, here’s the premise. Successville is a town populated by celebs, where there a lot of murders. Mary Berry runs the local strip club, ‘Soggy Bottoms’, and Gordon Ramsay is chief of police. Each week a celebrity – Dermot O’Leary, Deborah Meaden, Jamie Laing, Greg James, Kimberly Wyatt and Louis Smith – is enlisted to solve a killing. I’ve seen the first episode featuring Jamie Laing, which will probably go out on Monday, 27 April, and it didn’t split my sides. Jamie Laing, of Made in Chelsea ‘fame’, is like a giggling rabbit in the headlights, but Tom Davis as Detective Inspector Sleet is very good – silly, rude and terrific at putting our celebs on the spot. Here’s a taster…

Jordskott – Swedish series, ITV Encore in June

HERE’S a taste of Jordskott, the acclaimed Swedish mystery coming to ITV’s new channel Encore in June. It features blond people, forests, guns and lots of chilly stares. It’s about police investigator Eva Thornblad, whose daughter disappeared seven years ago by Silverhojd lake, apparently drowned. But Eva realises that other children have vanished near the lake, and she returns to the spot to probe a tragedy that still haunts her. It’s a 10-parter that looks packed with atmosphere. Could it do for ITV Encore what The Killing did for BBC4?

Wayward Pines, Fox, Matt Dillon

Wayward Pines cast shot

If you go down to the woods… strange goings-on in Wayward Pines

 

Twin Peaks meets The Prisoner in M Night Shyamalan’s off-kilter mystery thriller.

★★★ Fox, Thursday, 14 May, 9pm

M NIGHT SHYAMALAN’S output is full of disorientating twists – such as how did he go from making crowd-pleaser  The Sixth Sense to bilge like the $200m-plus cringe-fest After Earth?

WAYWARD PINES:  Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon, L) meets Beverly (guest star Juliette Lewis, R) in Wayward Pines on FOX.

Ethan (Matt Dillon) meets Beverly (Juliette Lewis)

When audiences scarred by that movie hear that he is behind Wayward Pines – exec producer and he directs the opener – they may want to go hide in a pine forest rather than set the TiVo.

However, for a high-concept thriller, Wayward Pines is worth a gander. It’s based on Blake Crouch’s trilogy of top-selling books, and the cast – Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, Toby Jones, Terrence Howard – are always good to watch.

The 10-parter certainly starts in gripping style, with Dillon as Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke surviving a car smash while investigating the disappearance of two agents in a small Idaho town, Wayward Pines.

[Read more…]

CrimeTimePreview at UK Blog Awards 2015

UK Blog Awards 17 April 2015

UK Blog Awards 2015

Robin Jarossi at UK Blog Awards 2015

CrimeTimePreview editor Robin at the UK Blog Awards

MANY thanks again to all our readers who voted for us in the run-up to this year’s UK Blog Awards. Some 2,000 blogs were entered, so we were delighted to make the Arts and Culture shortlist of 10. Unfortunately, at last night’s shindig in London’s Montcalm Hotel in Mayfair we didn’t win, but we did enjoy this celebration of the UK blogging scene. It was a fun evening, given an Alice in Wonderland theme to coincide with the book’s 150th anniversary, and it was inspiring to see so many amazing blogs among the finalists. The winner of our category was wiwibloggs.com, an irreverent look at the Eurovision scene and worthy winner for its amazing depth (they have 50 contributors from around the world) and its sheer sense of fun.

UK Blog Awards 2015 reception

Alice in Wonderland-themed reception at the UK Blog Awards

Wayward Pines, Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, coming soon

WP_101_sc25_048_pw_hires2

Wayward Pines is coming to Fox on 14 May. It’s based on Blake Crouch’s books, exec produced by M Night Shyamalan, and stars Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Toby Jones, Juliette Lewis and Terrence Howard. What’s the 10-parter like? A mystery-thriller with overtones of Twin Peaks and a pinch of pulp horror thrown in. We’ll have a review this weekend…

 

CrimeZapper – True Detective 2, Lewis 9, Prey 2

• The4260176028_720a752904_o trailer for True Detective 2 – below – tells us one thing we already knew – it’s going to be very different from the superb first season with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. But Colin Farrell is certainly up to playing Ray Velcoro, its compromised detective in the industrial city of Vinci, LA County. You may also spot Kelly Reilly in there, having escaped for the moment from the uninspiring ITV-Lynda La Plante series Above Suspicion. She’s playing the morally compromised wife of Vince Vaughn‘s character Frank Semyon, a criminal – which should be interesting casting. The good news is that novelist Nic Pizzolatto, who created and wrote the dense, gripping first series, is back, with Justin Lin (Star Trek 3) directing eps 1 and 2. Goes out on HBO in the US in June.

• Also returning, for some reason, is Lewis. It’s hard to get excited about this. ITV’s drama honcho Steve November says, ‘We are delighted that Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox are returning for a ninth series of LEWIS_THE_SOUL_OF_GENIUS_12Lewis. Each story is complex and intriguing and Detectives Robbie Lewis and James Hathaway are a formidable partnership much loved by ITV viewers.’ It’s true that viewers do still tune in, but the format is flat as discarded beer these days in the face of far more interesting dramas, from Happy Valley and Line of Duty to Better Call Saul and The Killing. Even Kevin Whately seems over it, telling Radio Times last September: ‘I would probably do one more. But everything has a life span and I think it’s gone on long enough. There were 33 Inspector Morse stories and we’ve now done 30 Lewis. I suppose it’s a sentimental thing but I wouldn’t want to do more Lewis than we did Morse because I do still think of it as an offshoot.’

Kitty• Some interesting predictions on which US series could be getting renewed, including my fave Better Call Saul and Wayward Pines, starring Matt Dillon and coming soon to Fox UK (preview coming right up). Check out 2015 TV – Which Shows Will Be Renewed? for a lively list, including some crime series that should make their way to Europe in coming months. American Crime got an interesting review on Den of Geek over the racial issues it raises, while CSI: Cyber, pictured, has been stirring interesting coverage Stateside about its take on the psychology of online crime.

Prey went out on ITV last year, starring John Simm as a cop on the run. It past most viewers by unnoticed, but apparently did well enough for ITV to commission a second outing of the show. No Simm this time, but Philip Glenister and Rosie Cavaliero will be starring. Glenister is a prison officer whose turn it is to go on the run…

• It’s a cracking cast for Midwinter of the Spirit, ITV’s newly ordered crime drama with a supernatural twist. Anna Maxwell-Martin plays Merrily Watkins, a vicar and exorcist, with David Threlfall – terrific in last week’s Code of a Killer – as the Rev Huw  Owen, her mentor. Based on books by Phil Rickman, Midwinter of the Spirit sees Merrily encountering the case of a horrifically murdered man, one that convinces her that satanists are behind it…

• It’s crime with a fantasy twist for Sky 1, which has allied with legendary comic-book writer Stan Lee – co-creator of the likes of Spider-Man, Hulk and many more – to produce Lucky Man. Starring James Nesbitt, Eve Best, Sienna Guillory and Darren Boyd, this is the story of DI Harry Clayton (Nesbitt), a cop from Central London’s notorious Murder Squad, who is given a charm that seems to confer upon the wearer the ability to control luck. It should be on our screens next year.

Arthur-&-George-DVD-3D• Interesting DVD releases include ITV’s Arthur & George, the fascinating story of Arthur Conan Doyle’s involvement in the case of the wrongly accused solicitor, George Edalji, who was jailed for killing farm livestock. Martin Clunes plays the creator of Sherlock Holmes in a fine adaptation of real events that were worthy of his fictional sleuth.  Also coming soon from ITV Global Entertainment will be the second series of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, the Aussie drama starring Craig McLachlan as the eponymous 1950s doc who solves mysteries. Finally, there’s a chance to step into the TV time machine and experience Saturday nights long before The X Factor. The 22nd and final series of Dixon of Dock Green is being released on DVD on 11 May. When Dixon shuffled off the schedules for the final time in 1976 the series was already a bit of an anachronism, blown away by grittier, more realistic series such as The Sweeney, and not helped by the fact that lead star Jack Warner was aged 80 when it concluded. True, Dixon by this stage was retired and working as a ‘collator’ at the East End nick, but the series was badly out of sync with the realities of policing by that time. Still, as a glimpse of a bygone era of cosy British television drama, it is captivating. Let’s just hope Kevin Whately isn’t still playing Lewis when he’s 80.

Dixon of Doc Green :Domino

Evening, all. Jack Warner, centre, and the jolly rozzers of Dock Green

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Vera, series 5, ITV, Brenda Blethyn

BRENDA BLETHYN as  DCI Vera Stanhope and KENNY DOUGHTY as DS Aiden Healy.

Vera (Brenda Blethyn) and new deputy DS Healy (Kenny Doughty)

 

Vera is back, with a new sergeant in tow, Aiden Healy, who has his work cut out earning his boss’s respect

★★★ ITV, starts Sunday, 5 April, 8pm

VERA HAS since 2011 become a solid performer for ITV. It does not earn the plaudits or fuss in the papers of series such as Broadchurch or The Fall, but its beautiful setting and popular lead star in Brenda Blethyn has made it a mainstream success.

Changing Tides is the first of four new two-hour mysteries in this fifth season (the sixth starts shooting in June).

DCI Stanhope is investigating a suspicious fire that has destroyed three caravans at a holiday park, killing a woman. The park owner, Jim Viner, suspects the dead woman is his sister, Deena, though he has no idea why she was at the park and not at home.

Ann Cleeves’ novels

Anyone who enjoyed the previous four series of Vera will go for this latest series. It’s pretty much more of the same, but with Kenny Doughty joining the cast as Vera’s new surrogate son, DS Aiden Healy, replacing David Leon’s Jose Ashworth.

This is a like-for-like cast change, maintaining Vera’s grumpy mentor dynamic with a young male deputy. Clearly, the show’s producers don’t want to mess with the series’ formula.

BRENDA BLETHYN as  DCI Vera Stanhope, KENNY DOUGHTY as DS Aiden Riley,WAYNE FOSKETT as Jim Viner and KATHERINE ROSE MORLEY as Claire Viner

Vera and Aiden begin their investigation

With Ann Cleeves’ popular series of novels, ITV have done what producers often do with successful crime heroes/heroines and ignored much of the interesting character material to focus on plot plot plot. The first half hour of Changing Tides is the traditional opening of detective and sidekick turning up at a crime scene and quizzing witnesses and the pathologist. Without a murder, these characters couldn’t function.

Vera v The Good Wife

In the novels Vera has more depth, a lonely woman haunted by her childhood who can empathise with victims and who is very good at the job she relies to give her life meaning. The TV series glosses over most of this to focus on whodunit, much as ITV’s lacklustre adaptations of the Rebus novels did as well – another compelling character on the page turned into a plot chaser.

Standard ITV dramas such as Vera, Midsomer Murders, Lewis and DCI Banks are stuck in that 1980s police procedural mould. In contrast, top US dramas such as The Good Wife have mastered the multi-stranded narrative with sharp characterisation. Every episode about Alicia Florrick combines a terrific weekly plot with interesting protagonists.

The writing, acting and production values on Vera are very good, but the stories never linger with you beyond the final credits.