What It Would Take To Turn Bryant & May Into A TV Series
We’re ‘in discussion’. My people are talking to their people. We’re running a few ideas up the flagpole and seeing who salutes.
I get to play this game every couple of years. As my detective duo approach their twelfth full-length novel, I realise how much of the past decade I’ve spent discussing the idea of them being turned into a TV series. It sometimes seems that everyone wants to do it, but nobody quite gets there. Having anything turned from one format into another is always difficult. Books don’t often make great films, especially now that executives often spend their days looking for beat-points and pleasure spikes instead of plots and characters. We got to the starting gate with several projects (their history has been outlined here before), but Bryant & May always stumbled at the BBC, long considered the first port of call for any series.
They stumbled because of something called ‘New Tricks’, a show I’ve never seen, apparently very popular and frequently cited as being too much of a clash with a Bryant & May series. As far as I can tell this is nonsense, as my detectives have an entirely different operating procedure, and arcane London is a main character. In fact, I can’t think of anything quite like a Bryant & May series – it would be quirky but not fanciful, strange but not beyond the realms of possibility. Nearly every character I create is based on somebody real.
But there are other problems Bryant & May would have to overcome – they’re defiantly, proudly, resolutely older than most leading show heroes. They often operate beyond the law, and the supporting characters are nearly all loners, outsiders. Then there’s the expense – shooting in London is far from cheap.
So in answer to the question what would it take to make Bryant & May into a TV series, the answer is: Bravery!
But we have some good ideas now, and a good team is starting to form. Let’s play the game and see where it goes this time. whenever I feel myself losing steam, it seems something happens to pep me up. Today’s pepper was a review from Book Reporter (US) which read in part:
‘I would like for you to make BRYANT & MAY AND THE BLEEDING HEART the next book you read. You will not be sorry. It is one of the literary world’s great mysteries that Christopher Fowler isn’t a household name on the order of… Well, we won’t get into all of that, but his Peculiar Crimes Unit series should be selling in the millions with copies passed through to millions more. These stories are witty, challenging, engrossing, informative and incredibly well-written.
Picture a television series that is a rough mash-up of “Law & Order,” “The X-Files” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” without the excesses of each and better than all combined, and you have the Peculiar Crimes Unit. There were times when, reading passages of this latest installment, I sensed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ed McBain and Agatha Christie nodding in approval, standing just over Fowler’s shoulder. Yes, the series is that good.
What makes Fowler’s accomplishments with these PCU mysteries so impressive is that his literary career has spanned three decades and over 30 novels in multiple genres. Yet his latest book contains some of his best writing. Fowler shows no signs of tiring or slowing down, which is one more thing for which we may be thankful at this time of year. Show your appreciation — not to mention your good taste — by becoming acquainted with this series and jumping on now.’