Sherlock 4 – new picture


THE BEEB has just released this shot of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as they will appear in the next Sherlock special. Are they in fancy dress? Have they stepped back in time? Here are some Twitter tags if you want join in the speculation – #221back #sherlock #notkidding
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TV Daggers 2014 – who should win

AS A VOTING member of the Academy of British Crime Writing, I’ve already selected my nominations in this year’s Crime Thriller Awards for the best TV series.

What were your favourites? It’s been a terrific year for powerful new dramas, with True Detective, Happy Valley and The Honourable Woman all in  contention.

The CWA/ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards have become the most exciting annual awards do for crime books, TV and film. This year’s event is on Friday, 24 October, at the Grosvenor Hotel in London, and will be shown on ITV3 the following week.

ITV3 is also showing a series of one-hour shows from 15 September called the Crime Thriller Club in the run-up to the gong show. Each one will showcase a crime book or bestselling author.

Here are the TV nominees, and I’ve picked my faves.

But what do you think? Please comment below.

TV Dagger

Happy Valley

Line of Duty series 2

Sherlock series 3

The Bletchley Circle series 2

The Honourable Woman

And the winner should be… Happy Valley
Line of Duty was more compelling than the first series and Sherlock – a recurring winner in recent years – again dazzled, while The Honourable Woman was a sophisticated series that found a large and committed audience. But the BBC’s Happy Valley was the most powerful drama by far, with moving performances and a nail-biting storyline.

International TV Dagger


Inspector Montalbano series 9

Orange Is the New Black

The Bridge series 2

True Detective

And the winner should be… True Detective
Again, there are blockbuster contenders here. The Bridge was once more distinctive and captivating, while Fargo captured some of the Coen brothers’ movies’ off-beam sinister mood, and Orange Is the New Black was fresh with a dark humour. But True Detective was something else… brooding and original, scary and oblique – it must have prompted the most online comment and theorising of any crime series this year. Totally breathtaking.

Best Actress Dagger

Brenda Blethyn Vera

Maggie Gyllenhaal The Honourable Woman

Anna Maxwell Martin Death Comes to Pemberley

Sarah Lancashire Happy Valley

Keeley Hawes Line of Duty

And the winner should be… Sarah Lancashire
A bugger to choose, with Keeley Hawes in one of her best ever roles as the detective under suspicion and Maggie Gyllenhaal sublime in Hugo Blick’s political thriller. But Sarah Lancashire had to push herself furthest in Happy Valley, mixing grit and violence with vulnerability and glimpses of wit. Fabulous performance.

Best Actor Dagger

Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock

Shaun Evans Endeavour

Martin Freeman Sherlock and Fargo

Matthew McConaughey True Detective

Steve Pemberton Happy Valley

And the winner should be… Matthew McConaughey
This one’s easier. Matthew McConaughey is by far the most mesmerising performance of the year as the almost unhinged detective Rust Cohle.

Supporting Actress Dagger

Amanda Abbington Sherlock 

Vicky McClure Line of Duty

Helen McCrory Peaky Blinders

Gina McKee By Any Means

Michelle Monaghan True Detective

And the winner should be… Amanda Abbington
It’s not easy to stand out in this series with Sherlock and Watson hogging the limelight, but Amanda Abbington gave the drama an added dash of fun and mystery.

Supporting Actor Dagger

Mark Gatiss Sherlock 
David Leon Vera
James Norton Happy Valley
Mandy Patinkin Homeland
Billy Bob Thornton Fargo
And the winner should be… Billy Bob Thornton
James Norton made our flesh creep as the sadistic brute in Happy Valley (he’s a vicar next in ITV’s Grantchester – talk about versatile), but I think Billy Bob Thornton just pips him in Fargo – a brilliantly queasy blend of hilarious and menacing all in one.

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Creating Sherlock – Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue, Mark Gatiss at Crimefest

Sherlock creators Sue Vertue, Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat at Crimefest 2013. Pic R Jarossi
Sue Vertue, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. (Pic: R Jarossi)

‘HOLMES WAS a dangerous young man doing exciting stuff,’ writer/co-creator Steven Moffat told fans of BBC1’s Sherlock at Bristol Crimefest on Saturday. He was explaining how the makers wanted to reinvent the character to be as thrilling as he would have been to Victorian readers. ‘We wanted to strip out all the stuff of making it in period.’

He was sitting alongside his co-writer Mark Gatiss, who also plays Mycroft, and Sue Vertue, executive producer of the hit series and also his Moffat’s wife.

The organisers of Crimefest, the annual crime fiction convention held at Bristol’s Marriott hotel, have long wanted to get the trio behind Sherlock to come and talk about the series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

‘We had no idea how people were going to take it to their hearts,’ said Mark Gatiss. ‘It made Benedict Cumberbatch a star.’

Filming on the show, they revealed, has stopped for the moment, while Martin Freeman flies off to New Zealand to film more of The Hobbit. ‘Filming [of the third series] is going well,’ Sue Vertue said. ‘We’re having fun.’

While not giving away secrets about the new stories – The Empty Hearse, The Sign of Three and a so

Sherlock BBC1, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman
Sherlock and Watson. Pic: BBC

far secret third story – they did talk about the trial and error process of refining the modern Sherlock (they tried Benedict Cumberbatch in jeans at one point), the difficulty of coming up with brilliant in deductions for a contemporary world (Arthur Conan Doyle became slapdash here, according to Moffat) and how Sherlock’s mannerism in steepling his fingers under his chin was borrowed from Jeremy Brett’s version on ITV.

While Moffat said he would be happy to continue making Sherlock, both he and Gatiss agreed that if Cumberbatch or Freeman – ‘Two of the biggest movie stars in the world,’ said Moffat – decided to leave, they would not want to continue.

Finally, in response to a question from the floor about whether Moffat, who’s also the showrunner for Doctor Who, would consider Cumberbatch as a future Time Lord, the answer was no – ‘Benedict couldn’t do another icon.’ That, he suggested, would be too confusing.

But Gatiss added, ‘There’s nothing to stop him playing James Bond.’

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Gabriel Byrne as Quirke, Sherlock on iPlayer, Jonathan Creek

BBC1's new series Quirke, with Gabriel Byrne

• Here’s Gabriel Byrne as Quirke, his leading role in the eagerly awaited BBC1 series, currently before the cameras in Ireland. The stories about a pathologist in 1950s Dublin are rich and atmospheric, but the whole series of three is just dripping with added quality. They are, of course, based on the novels of Benjamin Black (the secret identity of award-winning writer John Banville) and they’ve been adapted by Andrew Davies (Mr Selfridge, Pride and Prejudice) and Conor McPherson (The Actors). The three books that inspire these 90-minute dramas – Christine Falls, The Silver Swan and Elegy for April – promise crime stories with a lot more depth than your average procedural.

Sherlock may have missed out in one popularity vote – last night’s National Television Awards on ITV – but it has shone in another. It came third for BBC iPlayer viewing requests in 2012 with 2.5million, behind the Olympic Opening Ceremony and just behind (believe it or not) Top Gear.

• The cast for Jonathan Creek: The Clue of the Savant’s Thumb, a 90-minute special, will see Alan Davies and Sheridan Smith joined by Joanna Lumley (Ab Fab), Sarah Alexander (Me and Mrs Jones), Nigel Planer (I Give It a Year) and Hasina Haque (Casualty). Rik Mayall will also return as DI Pyke. In this yarn, Creek and Joey investigate a secret society and seemingly supernatural goings-on at a girls’ boarding school.

• Must tip my hat to a cracking US blog The Rap Sheet, which is an entertaining exploration of crime books and TV, both classic and contemporary. It’s just cited CrimeTimePreview as one of its Blogs of the Year. J Kingston Pierce is the mastermind behind The Rap Sheet, but he has a whole mob of quality writers chipping in. Check out the site – you’ll have the crime of your life.

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Sherlock vs Mrs Biggs at ITV1’s National Television Awards

Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Sherlock BBC

• Sherlock faces off with Mrs Biggs at the National Television Awards, to be shown on ITV1 later this month (Wednesday, 23 January, 7.30pm). Both crime dramas have two nominations each, with BBC1’s Sherlock down for best drama and male performance (Benedict Cumberbatch), while Sheridan Smith and Daniel Mays are both in the running for their roles in ITV1’s Great Train Robbery drama. Suranne Jones is also nominated for Scott & Bailey. Doctor Who, ironically a character inspired by Sherlock Holmes, tops the drama nominations with three nods. The NTA gongs are voted for by the great viewing public, so give your favourite a boost here. Surely, Sherlock was way more fun than Dullton Abbey?

Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Merlin, Sherlock
Drama performance male:
Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock, Daniel Mays Mrs Biggs, Colin Morgan Merlin, Matt Smith Doctor Who
Drama performance female:
Karen Gillan Doctor Who, Miranda Hart Call the Midwife, Suranne Jones Scott & Bailey, Sheridan Smith Mrs Biggs

Polly Walker as Francesca, BBC• Prisoners’ Wives will be back on BBC1 later this year. It’s just finished filming in Sheffield and the makers are promising more jeopardy, joy, sex and secrets resulting from the imprisonment of the women’s other halves. Polly Walker (right) and Pippa Hayward return alongside new characters played by Sally Carman and Karla Crome. Writer Julie Gearey‘s series was something of a quiet success, relying on intriguing stories and strong characters. She says, ‘It’s been very exciting to return to the world of Prisoners’ Wives and have the opportunity to create fresh stories for Francesca and Harriet and introduce our brand new characters, Kim and Aisling. The second season will continue the mix of compelling character driven stories with some dark twists and more than a little romance.’

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Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2012 Winners

Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch and event host Bradley Walsh
Benedict Cumberbatch collects the TV Dagger for Sherlock. Pics:ITV

Leading faces from the crime world – Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Jo Nesbo, Lara Pulver, Stephen Graham, Kathy Reichs – were on the black carpet for last night’s Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards.
And it was BBC1’s Sherlock that again scooped several awards – TV Dagger, best actor (Mr Cumberbatch), best supporting actor (Mr Freeman). 
BBC4’s The Bridge shoved aside major dramas such as Homeland, Boardwalk Empire and The Killing 2 to take the International TV Dagger. Meanwhile, viewers voted Lewis and Hathaway from ITV1’s Lewis as their favourite cop duo.
Claire Danes got a gong in recognition for her superb performance in Homeland as the CIA agent on the edge. Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera Stanhope novels (played by Brenda Blethyn on ITV1) was inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Foyle’s War creator Anthony Horowitz.
ITV3 is showing the full event, hosted by Bradley Walsh, on 23 October at 9pm.
Host at the Grosvenor Hotel, London – Bradley Walsh

The Film Dagger

  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Studio Canal)
The TV Dagger
  • Sherlock: Series 2 (Hartswood Films/BBC1)
The International TV Dagger
  • The Bridge (Danmarks Radio, Sveriges Television/BBC4)
The Best Actress Dagger
  • Claire Danes for Homeland (Teakwood Lane Productions, Showtime Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Media Group, Fox 21/Channel 4)
The Best Actor Dagger
  • Benedict Cumberbatch for Sherlock (Hartswood Films/BBC1)
The Best Supporting Actress Dagger
  • Kelly Macdonald for Boardwalk Empire (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Martin Freeman won best supporting actor

The Best Supporting Actor Dagger

  • Martin Freeman for Sherlock (Hartswood Films/BBC1)

Best Detective Duo: 
  • Lewis – DI Robbie Lewis & DS James Hathaway

And the books awards were won by:

The CWA Gold Dagger – sponsored by Constable & Robinson
  • The Rage by Gene Kerrigan (Harvill Secker)

The John Creasey New Blood Dagger – sponsored by Goldsboro Books
  • A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash (Bantam)
The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger – sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications
  • A Foreign Country by Charles Cumming (HarperCollins)
The Specsaver’s Bestseller Dagger 2012:
  • Kathy Reichs

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Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu PREVIEW

Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes
Helluva backdrop for the new Holmes – Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller. Pics: BSkyB

Rating: ★★★★ 

Sky Living: starts Tuesday, 23 October, 9pm

Story: An unhappy episode in London and a stint in drug rehabilitation pitches consulting detective Sherlock Holmes into a spell of recuperation in New York. At the insistence of his father, Sherlock is forced to take on a ‘sober companion’, Dr Joan Watson, who is to monitor his recovery.

After the kerfuffle over this US update supposedly ripping-off the BBC’s Sherlock – complete with the latter’s creator Steven Moffat ‘annoyed’ by the cheek of it – here at last is Holmes in modern New York. Let battle commence.

Jonny Lee Miller is, of course, the consulting detective in this new version from CBS, the twist being that he is recovering from his drug addiction in New York at the insistence of his father, who also lands him with a ‘sober companion’, Dr Joan Watson, to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Sherlock’s ‘helper monkey’
Watson being a woman may have the purists round Baker Street spluttering in their tea, but Lucy Liu has many good moments with Miller in the opening episode. She is, of course, bemused by his deducing all her secrets – that she dislikes her job because she has two alarm clocks and hates getting up for it, that she is a surgeon who killed a patient, etc – and he calls her his ‘addict sitter’ and ‘helper monkey’.

But Watson sticks up for herself, and by the end she’s making deductions about Holmes – for instance, sniffing out that he went off the rails in London because of a broken romance.

Aidan Quinn as Toby Gregson
They are swiftly pulled into investigating the murder of a woman at her home. Holmes can just walk into the murder scene because Aidan Quinn is the senior detective involved, and he’s encountered Sherlock while on secondment in London.

The New York forensics guy wants who the cocky Brit is that’s making all the brilliant deductions about the murder scene, but naturally Holmes is quickly accepted as a brilliant case closer. He works out that her body has been put in a hidden panic room, and that the perpetrator was not an intruder but someone who knew her.

Elementary v the BBC’s Sherlock
It’s an intriguing, but not particularly believable case (how many Sherlock escapades are?), but the fun of it is rightly centred on the tension and bonding between Holmes and Watson. This works well, thanks to the lead actors.

So how does Sky Living‘s new import compare to Sherlock? Steven Moffat has nothing to fear. Elementary is entertaining and shot superbly round New York, but it doesn’t have the relish and verve of the Beeb’s drama.

Most portrayed character on screen in the world
Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes is politer and nicer than Benedict Cumberbatch’s near autistic version. And the atmosphere of almost supernatural foreboding is missing, though that may come in later mysteries.

With Sherlock Holmes being easily the world’s most portrayed fictional character on screen, there is certainly room for this sharp and witty newcomer.

Cast: Jonny Lee Miller Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Liu Dr Joan Watson, Aidan Quinn Toby Gregson, Jon Michael Hill Marcus Bell

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Third Degree: Zoë Sharp, creator of the Charlie Fox thrillers

Zoë Sharp wrote her first novel when she was 15. It was not until 2001, however, after she had tried her hand at jobs ranging from van driver to newspaper ad sales to motoring correspondent, that she finally publisher her breakout Charlie Fox novel Killer Instinct. Fox, the self-defence instructor with a shady military background, has proved hugely popular with readers through nine novels and has been optioned by Twentieth Century Fox TV. We brought Zoë in for questioning to see who she would like to see playing Charlie on screen, and what TV shows tick the right boxes for her…

Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?
First of all, I should declare that I don’t have ‘proper’ telly. My TV set is just a monitor connected to a DVD player, so in order to watch something I have to have heard enough good reports to go out and buy the series on DVD. There have been quite a few I’ve bought and either watched one series but not been inspired to rush back for the rest, or that I’ve given up on part-way through.

I suppose of recent stuff it has to be Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role as the modern-day Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr Watson. I enjoyed the stylish series about professional con artists, Hustle, and going back years I used to be a huge fan of The Professionals. I also thought The Fixer with Andrew Buchan as government-sanctioned assassin John Mercer, and Vincent with Ray Winstone as the titular private detective, were both very good, but only lasted two short seasons. I LOVED the adaptations the BBC did of three Lord Peter Wimsey stories in the 1980s (which I re-watched recently) with Edward Petherbridge as Wimsey and Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock. Pic: BBC

Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?
NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles vie for the top spot, along with Human Target, about ex-assassin turned protector Christopher Chance. The original CSI is always entertaining, although I giggle at the procedure. [That’s what I refer to as ‘CSI Classic’ (Las Vegas) rather than ‘CSI Lite’ (Miami) or ‘CSI Dark’ (New York)] I’m currently watching the second series of Lie To Me with Tim Roth as Dr Cal Lightman, human lie-detector, which is pretty good, but is it strictly crime? Oh, and I saw the first series of Justified about US Marshal Raylan Givens with Timothy Olyphant—excellent stuff!

Of made-for-TV movies – do they count? – the best has to be the Jesse Stone adaptations of Robert B Parker’s series about the police chief of small New England town Paradise, with Tom Selleck in the title role. Beautifully shot, beautifully scored, and acted with superb understated skill, although only the first few were scripted by Parker himself and I think you can really tell when someone else takes over.
Top TV cop?
Hmm, got to be Sherlock Holmes again, I think, in any of his incarnations. I used to watch reruns of the old black-and-white Basil Rathbone versions, although Nigel Bruce played Watson as such a bumbler. The Jeremy Brett series was excellent, but the current modern setting is extremely well done.

Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
Quintin Jardine’s series about tough Edinburgh cop Bob Skinner is one of my favourites. Or JD Robb’s futuristic series about New York detective Lt Eve Dallas. (Because I guess I’m not allowed to nominate my own Charlie Fox series, although it was optioned by Twentieth-Century Fox TV…?)

If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero?
I’d love the British actress who narrates my UK audiobook versions to be considered—Clare Corbett. I’ve really got used to hearing her voice as Charlie. But I thought Natalie Tena (Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films) would be excellent, or Kate Beckinsale (particularly liked her in the Underworld films). And I recently saw Haywire with mixed martial arts champion Gina Carano in her first movie role, and she would kick some serious arse as Charlie. But the truth is, because the books are written in first-person—and therefore I look out through Charlie’s eyes all the time—I see the other characters in more detail than my main protagonist. I always describe her fairly lightly, so readers can picture her inside their own minds.

What do you watch with a guilty conscience (or what’s your guilty pleasure)?
The first couple of series of Ultimate Force about an SAS troop, with Ross Kemp, Tony Curran, and Jamie Draven. Didn’t like the later couple of series as much when they’d had big cast changes. It’s incredibly macho-macho, but fun as well. Never been into typically girlie TV, I’m afraid—Sex and the City and Friends largely passed me by.

Least favourite cop show/thriller? I grew up absolutely loving the Leslie Charteris books about Simon Templar, The Saint, but I couldn’t even finish sitting through the dreadful Val Kilmer movie version a few years ago. Such a disappointment. I wasn’t even a big fan of the Roger Moore or Ian Ogilvy TV versions from the 1960s and 1070s. The original books were written and set in the 1930s. It would be very cool to see a period adaptation, one that stuck closer to the original criminal ethos of the character rather than making him into a somewhat wet private detective.

Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?
Dreadful admission time—I haven’t watched enough of either series to form an opinion.

David Suchet as Poirot. Pic ITV

Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?
Definitely Holmes, I’m afraid, although I find the David Suchet version of Poirot slightly more watchable than Miss Marple.

Wallander – BBC or the Swedish version?
Not watched either <gulp>. Which do you recommend? Actually, I recently saw part of the Swedish-language version of the first of the Stieg Larsson trilogy and found that after a while I was making sense of the language in little snatches, so if I was going to take a flyer on one or the other, I’d try the Swedish version I think.

US or British television crime dramas?
I like both. As long as the scripts are good and they’re well acted, who cares? At the moment there are probably far more US crime dramas I watch enough to buy the series on DVD, rather than UK. Not sure why that should be…

Your favourite crime/thriller writers?
Ooh, how long have you got? In no particular order: Lee Child, Robert B Parker, Quintin Jardine, JD Robb, Jeffery Deaver, Harlan Coben, John Connolly, Clive Cussler, Dick Francis, CJ Ellisson, Matt Reilly, Timothy Hallinan, Brett Battles, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Lee Goldberg, Blake Crouch, PD Martin, Alexandra Sokoloff, SJ Rozan, Ken Bruen, Terry Pratchett, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L Sayers (with or without Jill Paton Walsh) …

Best new crime author to look out for?
Probably Bruce DeSilva. I just read an ARC of his second novel, Cliff Walk, a follow-up to his award-winning debut, Rogue Island, and he has a terrific style, and a great eye for character and ear for dialogue.

Favourite non-crime/thriller author?
I think I’d go for Dan Walsh, a Mancunian motorcycle journalist who wrote a brilliant book about his travels on two wheels around Africa and South America called These Are the Days that Must Happen to You. He’s a prose-poet, just brilliant.

Favourite crime movie or thriller?
Again, there are a few, including those Jesse Stone TV movie adaptations I already mentioned. Front and centre is Ronin with Robert Di Niro, superbly directed by John Frankenheimer. That movie also has one of the best director’s commentaries I’ve ever listened to. Under Siege is still one of my favourites, too, plus Heat, The Usual Suspects, Inside Man, and True Lies. Some movies you watch once and go, ‘Well, I’ve seen that now, I don’t need to see it again.’ And others become perennial favourites—comfort movies you put on when it’s raining outside and you’re feeling a bit below par, because you know you’re going to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

You’ve been framed for murder. Which fictional detective/sleuth would you want to call up?
If I needed someone to prove it wasn’t me, I’d call on Sherlock Holmes, but if I needed someone to come and bust me out of jail, it would have to be Jack Reacher.

• Zoë’s latest Charlie Fox thriller is Fifth Victim (UK paperback, left, due 30 July; US hardback, right, is already out). While the life of her lover, Sean, hangs in the balance, Charlie throws herself into work protecting wild child Caroline, the daughter of a rich businessman, whose thrill-seeking threatens to put her and Charlie in danger…

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