Award-winning British novelist Ann Cleeves is a serial crime writer, with her collections including amateur sleuths George & Molly, Inspector Ramsay, the soon-to-be-televised Vera Stanhope, and the recent Shetland Island Quartet. crimetimepreview pulls her in for questioning about her TV habits…
Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?
This is very tricky. I loved Morse, but having watched those again, they do seem very slow. I thought the recent working of Sherlock Holmes was magnificent – witty, fun and capturing the essence of the original.
Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?
I enjoyed the old series like NYPD Blue and Homicide: Life on the Street. I’ve never watched The Wire, but everyone tells me I should.
Top TV cop?
Taggart – can’t remember the actor’s name [Mark McManus] but he was fantastic.
Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
Martin Edwards wrote a series set in Liverpool with sixties song lyrics as titles and a solicitor hero. I think Liverpool would provide a brilliantly atmospheric back-drop and Harry Devlin is a great character.
If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero?
One has – the Vera Stanhope books have been adapted for ITV with Brenda Blethyn as the hero – they’ll be broadcast in the spring. I wouldn’t have considered Brenda as Vera but she’s magnificent. I hear her voice in my head now when I’m writing dialogue.
If the Shetland books were filmed I’d like David Tennant to be Jimmy Perez. He’s known for his manic energy but I think he could do intense stillness very well too.
What do you watch with a guilty conscience (or what’s your guilty pleasure)?
US Law and Order. Absolutely bizarre plot lines.
Least favourite cop show/thriller?
Rosemary and Thyme.
Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?
I haven’t seen either.
Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?
Holmes. I really don’t get Christie.
Wallander – BBC or the Swedish version?
Absolutely the Swedish version. The BBC film looked beautiful, but lost the sense of Kurt’s team, which is so important in the books.
US or British television crime dramas?
British, but only because I don’t know much about US contemporary programming.
Your favourite crime/thriller writers?
I love the Nordic writers – I’m chair of judges for the CWA International Dagger so I get sent loads of wonderful books. My favourite at the moment is Johan Theorin – wonderful!
Favourite non-crime/thriller author?
My favourite book is still probably Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain Fournier (The Lost Domaine in translation). I read it for French A Level and it’s romantic and a perfect book for an adolescent. I still find it moving and mysterious.
Favourite crime movie or thriller?
Fargo. I love the snow.
Helen Mirren from Prime Suspect.
• Ann’s Shetland Island Quartet of stories reached its climax with Blue Lightning, which is available in paperback. Hidden Depths, starring Brenda Blethyn as DI Vera Stanhope, should be broadcast by ITV1 in the Spring.