Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Programme Name: Strike - The Cuckoo's Calling - TX: 15/11/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Robin Ellacott (HOLLIDAY GRAINGER), Cormoran Strike (TOM BURKE) - (C) Bronte Films - Photographer: Steffan Hill

Attraction of opposites: Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) and Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke)

Entertaining three-parter following JK Rowling’s rough-but-ready private eye Cormoran Strike


BBC1, Sunday, 27 August, 9pm

A COUPLE of years ago I was at a launch party to announce the nominations for the Crime Writers’ Association annual awards. Many of the UK’s leading crime writers were there.

Word went round the mingling authors and publishing folk that a ‘special’ guest could be arriving soon. Finally, there was a hush – the special guest had arrived. Necks were craned and there she was – JK Rowling.

It seemed extraordinary that a gathering of so many of the best crime authors around should be in near awe of her. She had been nominated for one of her books written as Robert Galbraith, the adult crime series she turned to following the conclusion of Harry Potter.

Tom Burke as Cormoran Strike

But it’s not just Potter fans and other writers by whom she is admired. I’m one of those who like her for taking no crap from ignoramuses on Twitter, for insisting the Potter movies were made in the UK, and for triumphing so splendidly over the critic-snobs who sniffed that she couldn’t write. 

The authors at the CWA that evening no doubt appreciated that only a special talent could sell 100million books. So, her latest adaption coming to BBC1 is bound to attract a huge amount of attention.

Programme Name: Strike - The Cuckoo's Calling - TX: 15/11/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Cormoran Strike (TOM BURKE) - (C) Bronte Films - Photographer: Steffan Hill

Cormoran Strike (TOM BURKE)

The Beeb has already offered a JK Rowling miniseries a couple of years ago. The Casual Vacancy starred Julia McKenzie, Keeley Hawes and Michael Gambon. It was a mystery exploring dodgy dealings in an English village.

It was a decent but rather forgettable show. I prefer this latest drama. Tom Burke is a charismatic lead as the one-legged, bear-like private eye Cormoran Strike. He is thrown together with Holliday Grainger as his new, super-efficient temp Robin Ellacott – an odd couple with a spark of attraction.

Martin Shaw and Tara Fitzgerald

‘Where should I say you are if anyone important calls?’ Robin asks on her first day.

‘Down the boozer,’ he replies.

The mystery begins in time-honoured fashion with the discovery of a dead woman. Supermodel Lula falls to her death from a Mayfair balcony. The police – and her family – are quick to conclude it was a suicide.

We then get that other convention of the private-eye genre, the client turning up at the dowdy office of the gumshoe. John Bristow (Leo Bill) arrives. He argues that his adopted sister Lula was murdered and the police have overlooked key evidence.

Penniless, and effectively homeless after separating from his girlfriend, Strike takes the case.

Edgy it ain’t. But it is evocatively filmed around Soho and Chinatown, the cast – which includes Martin Shaw and Tara Fitzgerald – is very good, and the mystery is intriguing enough. It’s very much a well-produced, good-looking piece of mainstream BBC1 drama – an ideal place for JK to continue to cast her spell.


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