FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - THE INSPECTOR LYNLEY MYSTERIES

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  1. How did the series come about? Did the BBC approach you and what things did you consider before saying “Yes”?
  2. What creative controls do you have over the series?
  3. Did you have any input on the actors who play Inspector Lynley and Sergeant Havers? Do the actors resemble how you pictured the two as you created them?
  4. Which books has the BBC used to base their shows on and do they follow your plots exactly? How do they break down your lengthy books into 90 minute shows?
  5. Would you ever consider doing an “Alfred Hitchcock” and putting yourself in the series as a walk-on character just for fun?
  6. What is the next book to become a part of the BBC series and when will it come out on television?
  7. Do you have a favorite episode of the Inspector Lynley series?

How did the series come about? Did the BBC approach you and what things did you consider before saying “Yes”?

The Inspector Lynley series came about when the BBC approached me and asked me if I would be willing to sell them the rights to the novels themselves. The BBC was initialing asking for nothing more than the right to make the books into films- rather than to make their own original series using my characters – so I was amenable to the idea. I was excited by the fact that I would be the first American crime writer to have her novels adapted by the BBC, and I was hopeful the series would be picked up by the PBS show, Mystery!, which would make me the second American writer (after Tony Hillerman) to have films of her novels put on that program. My main consideration in accepting the BBC’s offer had to do with what kind of creative input I would have, what kind if control would I have and what kind of television programming I had seen come out of the BBC in the past. Additionally, I had already been approached by two other film companies who had not been able to bring the books to either television or cinema, so I was hopeful that the BBC – with its long track record of turning novels into films – would be able to do what the others had not done.

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What creative controls do you have over the series?

It’s a bit of an odd situation. When the BBC was turning my novels into films, I had what is called the right to “creative consultation.” Essentially what this means is that the film makers would tell me what they intended to do before they began filming. As far as my being able to control anything that was going to happen in front of the camera, I could protest, but that was the extent of what I could do. Once the BBC wanted to use my characters Lynley, Havers, Helen and Nkata in their own series, however, I was in a stronger position to have more control. Thus, my negotiated contract gave me the right of approval over all scripts. In addition to this, all along the BBC has been limited as to what they can do in the personal and professional lives of my characters.

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Did you have any input on the actors who play Inspector Lynley and Sergeant Havers? Do the actors resemble how you pictured the two as you created them?

I had no input at all on the actors who play Inspector Lynley, Sergeant Havers, or any one else who has in the past been featured in the films (Winston Nkata, Malcolm Webberly, David Hiller, Simon St. James, Deborah St. James and Helen Clyde). The decisions are made entirely by the producer of the series. While none of the actors have resembled my vision of the characters in any way, I think Nathaniel Parker (Lynley) and Sharon Small (Havers) have done a fine job in bringing them to life.

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Which books has the BBC used to base their shows on and do they follow your plots exactly? How do they break down your lengthy books into 90 minute shows?

The BBC has filmed all of my novels up to With No One As Witness, and with the exception of A Place of Hiding. I think the expense of taking the film crew to Guernsey was what stopped them from filming that book. By concentrating only on the crime itself and eliminating all other subplots, they fit the stories into 90 minutes. In the best of all worlds, I would have preferred that they filmed the entire novel in each case, making each book into a four-part mini-series. Alas, this was not the decision they made.

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Would you ever consider doing an “Alfred Hitchcock” and putting yourself in the series as a walk-on character just for fun?

I think it would be great fun to put myself in the series as a walk-on character, which is exactly what Colin Dexter did in the Inspector Morse series. The problem is that I don’t live in England and I am rarely there when they are actually filming.

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What is the next book to become a part of the BBC series and when will it come out on television?

As far as the books go, the BBC has now filmed all of them. I don’t think they all have been shown anywhere except in the United Kingdom at this point. I know some of them have been shown in the United States and elsewhere, but I don’t know exactly where each country is in the list of books shown.

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Do you have a favorite episode of the Inspector Lynley series?

INo. I think they all have their strengths and they all have their weaknesses. But at the end of the day, I do think the BBC has done a fairly credible job of bringing the books to film.

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