Saturday, 24 November 2007

Gently Does It?

More than seven months after it was originally screened, I’ve finally got round to watching a recording I made of the TV pilot for a new detective series, ‘George Gently’, starring Martin Shaw as the eponymous cop.

Gently was created by Alan Hunter, a Norwich-born author who died a couple of years ago. It’s sad that, after writing a long-running series at the rate of more or less one book a year for around half a century, Hunter didn’t live to see his creation adapted for the small screen (and by a much acclaimed writer, Peter Flannery.)

I never met Alan Hunter, but we were in touch once, more than a decade ago, when he contributed a short story to an anthology I co-edited with Robert Church on behalf of the East Anglian chapter of the CWA, Anglian Blood. That is a book, incidentally, with a claim to having the most horrible cover artwork of all time. I’ve only read one of Hunter’s books, Strangling Man, which I suspect (and, frankly, hope) was not one of his best.

Given that Hunter was very much a man of East Anglia, I was rather baffled by the fact that the television show was set in the North East (and further confused to discover that it was actually filmed in Ireland.) Shaw is a good actor, but given that he is quite familiar to us as the most recent incarnation of Adam Dalgliesh, I did wonder whether he was the ideal choice for yet another senior cop from Scotland Yard. His spiky relationship with a new sidekick was well done, but for me the show was stolen by Phil Davis, as a genuinely menacing villain. Further episodes are planned for next year.

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