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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Television Review: Case Sensitive

As a devotee of Sophie Hannah's books (as demonstrated by the reviews on this blog) I was both excited and worried by the fact that ITV were going to adapt one of her books for screen. I was more perplexed when I found it was The Point of Rescue, the third in the series. My notion has always been start from the beginning. I was especially concerned that the personal relationship between Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse, an integral part of the novels, would be - for want of a better phrase - buggered up. On that score, at least, I was wrong.

It just so happens that, of all Hannah's novels, The Point of Rescue was the one I remembered least about. That meant that in some respects I was able to enjoy the plot as if I was a complete novice. And the plot works, albeit it a little differently to the books. A major difference is that the books are narrated in alternating chapters - one police, one victim etc. Television's a medium where viewers can discern much more than their reading counterparts. That forced a little reorganisation as far as narrative method was concerned, but I certainly think it worked.

The cast was outstanding, both the police and public. I have to say, I was quite worried about how they would transfer the antagonistic and annoying character of DC Simon Waterhouse onto screen without altering him into something unrecognisable. Fortunately, Darren Boyd is a genius. I wasn't too sure at first but pretty soon I was convinced that the fidgeting, abrupt and slightly dim (in certain respects) man on the screen was Simon Waterhouse. And that is some accomplishment. DS Charlie Zailer was equally as well cast. I can't put into words how many differing little character facets Olivia Williams managed to demonstrate in the two hours of the programme. Cold, caring, uncomfortable, slightly-less-uncomfortable. I don't think they could have cast two better leads.

I was equally impressed by the supporting cast. I do think if I'd gone into it with absolutely no background knowledge I would've enjoyed it nonetheless. As it was, I found myself pleasantly surprised as to how easily the transfer from page to screen had worked. I heard the ratings were between four and five million, not bad considering the competition was John Simm drama, Exile. Williams confirmed that she's signed on if ITV decide to commission more and I seriously hope they consider it. I think they've got a leading pair with some excellent chemistry and some great material to work with from Hannah's books.

Read an interview with Olivia Williams here.

Read an interview with Darren Boyd here.

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