Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Book Isn't Murdered for TV; Crime Pays If You Are Ann Cleeves Who Spoke to DAVID WHETSTONE before a Special Screening in Hexham

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Book Isn't Murdered for TV; Crime Pays If You Are Ann Cleeves Who Spoke to DAVID WHETSTONE before a Special Screening in Hexham

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WHETSTONE

IT is nice when books written in the region are turned into TV films shot in the region - even if it does mean dead bodies strewn around the place.

Ann Cleeves, who lives in Whitley Bay, has enjoyed a well-deserved boost in sales and profile since Vera, the ITV series, first aired last year.

Ann is one of those very nice ladies who trade in murder most foul.

She was a VIP guest in Hexham the other day when one of the four films in the forthcoming second series was shown at the Queen's Hall to an audience invited by Northern Film & Media.

Afterwards she did some brisk business signing books. But first Ann found time for a chat about the morphing of DCI Vera Stanhope, her old school crime solver, into Brenda Blethyn, the actress who brings Vera's rather rumpled figure to life on screen.

"Brenda is wonderful," said Ann, beaming. "She turns up to my book launches. But I think I'm very fortunate because there are lots of writers who have much less happy experiences of being adapted for the screen."

Ann's experience is the stuff of fairytales. It is incredibly hard for a book to reach the screen and Vera is only there because TV executive Elaine Collins bought a second-hand copy of one of Ann's novels in a London Oxfam shop and saw potential.

Elaine is married to Peter Capaldi, the Scottish actor who plays scary, foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in BBC satire The Thick Of It.

"He's come and had a curry in our house," said Ann. "He's so not like that character. He's very gentle and intelligent, really very nice.

"But Elaine was an actor as well and understands how writers feel about their work. She's quite sensitive about that."

In the first series of Vera, three of the films were based on Ann's novels and the other was an original story. This time only one of the four, Silent Voices, is based on a novel (Ann couldn't possibly write fast enough to satisfy the TV demands).

This was the film previewed in Hexham whose surrounding landscape stars along with - let's be honest - some rather gruesome scenes and a fair few tears. It begins with a drowning.

Ann said: "I thought the script (by Gaby Chiappe) was really strong - quite different from the book but picking up on a lot of themes. …

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