thorne:sleepyhead coming to Sky

thorne: sleepyhead

TV Preview – bfi London.

For anyone reading this who’s worried about spoilers – do not fear – the only things I will alert you to are….. A: It’s different from the Mark Billingham novel and B: It is a cracking piece of television drama.

Not having Sky, I was worried just how long I’d have to wait for a DVD release to get the chance to see this series – now I’m just mad at how long I’ll have to wait to see the second adaptation, Scaredy Cat.

So, I was very pleased when a bfi member friend of mine dropped me a line, knowing I was a big fan of Mark Billingham’s novels, to tell me that the screening of all three parts of thorne:sleepyhead followed by a Q&A had appeared in the monthly booklet. 

I’d spent the day in London for work and lost count of the number of huge posters I’d seen at train and tube stations advertising the show – clearly getting some great promotion from Sky (just a shame the posters didn’t mention the books or the author’s name).  Then all I had to do was fight my way home and then back into London later that evening for the screening – not a good day for travel due to the tube strike, but clearly a lot of fans still made it through as it was a good turn-out.

Due to attend the Q&A after the screening were Mark Billingham, David Morrissey (who plays the titular character of DI Tom Thorne) and hosted by Mark Lawson.  I was really pleased to hear in the days leading up to the event that the fantastic Eddie Marsan was also due to appear on stage (on the day of the release of the excellent The Disappearance of Alice Creed on DVD too).  

Arrival to the bfi saw a packed bar, complete with projected sequences from the trailers for the show on the wall behind and cardboard cut-outs of the leading cast at the entrance which was a little unnerving.

Okay – now to the series, or film as we saw it all in one lovely chunk.

In two words – loved it.

In a few more words – it did everything it was destined to do, from the great source material, superb cast and direction by Stephen Hopkins (24 & Californication) it was almost certain to be a great show and it didn’t let the fans or the author down in my opinion.

The original novel, dealing as it does with locked-in syndrome, has a lot of internal dialogue by the central victim, Alison, and such sections in books rarely translate well to screen, but they are handled very well here, even managing to give Alison’s character some humour.

David Morrissey – whilst not everyone’s idea of Tom Thorne – is great in the role and I think, and hope, it’ll be a long running part for him – there are certainly enough books already published to keep him going for a while.  It was a strange route that was taken to get him to the part, whereby Mark Billingham was always being asked at festivals who he would like to play the character if ever brought to screen.  He stated David Morrissey at one event and online and from there it spread until someone alerted Morrissey of the comment – he then went out to get the books and then contacted Billingham to arrange to meet up.  And then, in a further twist, on the day before their meeting, Billingham’s wife was amazed to find herself standing beside Morrissey on the tube platform and just had to turn to him and say that he was meeting her husband the following day!

Without exception the cast are first rate, Aiden Gillen, Natasha McElhone, and Eddie Marsan is absolutely fantastic as DCI Kevin Tughan – clearing giving the role his all and more on top of that, with spittle.

So, fans of great crime fiction, great crime detective television get yourselves ready and settled on this coming Sunday evening at 9pm on Sky to see the first of the three parts of thorne:sleepyhead and gear yourselves up for three great shows followed by what are sure to be three more with thorne:scaredycat.

Me? – I’ll just be sitting outside the DVD store until it’s all released as a lovely box set (I hope).

Keith B Walters

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