Seven Questions for ‘Strike’ TV Talent

I was asked by my friends at MuggleNet for questions to ask “the talent” of the BBC teevee show Strike which premieres tomorrow. Here are the seven questions I sent in after polling the HogwartsProfessor talent. What would you have asked?

(1) Cormoran Strike is an imposing physical presence who is not handsome; he’s described as a hulk (not hunk!) who has “pube hair” and looks like a heavyweight boxer resembling Beethoven. Why in the world did you choose Tom Burke, a beautiful man who is relatively short and decidedly svelte, to play this part? You’ve cast a brilliant actor and leopard to play the part of a rhino, no?

(2) The Strike fandom, small as it is relative to the Kingdom of Potter, reads these mysteries as wonderfully satisfying mysteries in themselves and as Rowling commentaries on the parallel Potter books and her experiences as a writer and celebrity. Have you in your study of these books to prepare for the making of these series discussed the latter amongst yourselves?

(3) Rowling is definitely writing the series as she did Harry Potter with respect to writing books that also serve as chapters in the larger, over-arching mystery. Instead of the back story about the Dark Lord, of course, here we are learning book by book, more about the death of Strike’s mother Leda, the involvement of his father Jonny Rokeby the rock star, Robin’s past and her relationship with Matt, Cormoran’s history with Mad Charlotte, and information about the explosion in Afghanistan that took his leg. Rowling famously shared Snape’s back story with Alan Rickman so he knew where his character was headed and what his motivations were; has she tipped her hand to any of you?

(4) Why teevee? No knock on the quality of small screen production values, which now are as good or better than cinema, but there’s so much more of an audience globally for films and it’s not as if Rowling’s works have not been successfully adapted into blockbusters. Any idea why the Rowling team elected to go small when going blockbuster large would have meant exciting millions more potential readers about the series?

(5) For Holliday Grainger: Can you give us an estimate of how many times since you were cast as Robin Ellacott that you have been asked about your relationship with Hermione Granger? Is it a daily event?

(6) For Tom Burke: The big mystery of the series is the death of Leda Strike and whether Jonny Rokeby had her killed. Strike was named ‘Blue’ for ‘Blue Oyster Cult’ (whose lead singer has “pube hair” and Leda Strike pursued). Strike does not resemble Rokeby in any way; he takes after his uncle in Cornwall. Do you think Strike is really Rokeby’s son? That the rock star killed Leda because of information she knew about things he had done in the past? [Leda told Cormoran that Rokeby was not a good man when on drugs…]

(7) There seem to be quite a few connections between the fictional Jonny Rokeby and the real life Mick Jagger (see links below). Strike super fans expect Rokeby to appear in Lethal White, book four in the series, the way that the Dark Lord took the stage in Goblet of Fire. Any thoughts yet about who will play this crucial role in the teevee series?

Rokeby-Rolling Stones links:


  1. Wayne Stauffer says:

    Will these programs be teevee versions of the novels, or will they be new stories that involve the novel characters?

  2. Hey, I can answer that one!

    The BBC adaptations are three-part re-tellings of each book, not new stories featuring the characters and settings.

  3. Moonflower says:

    Hello John! It’s Susan from Omaha…will Cormoran’s disfigurement play a significant part in the TV series? (I’m thinking of Peeta in Hunger Games, whose loss of a limb was disregarded in the screenplay.) If so, I would like to know why Cormoran doesn’t seem to have a significant medical pension from the British Army. Surely his injury would have warranted a medical discharge and near-100% tax-free retirement?

  4. I left out the link to the arrest record of the Rolling Stones, mostly on drug charges. Rokeby’s wikipedia page refers to a notorious drug bust in the US during a tour his band was making, an event that may be part of why Leda Strike was murdered (and/or why Cormoran Strike is said to be his son?).

  5. Hey, Susan! Great to hear from you —

    Strike lost a limb, but his injury was not career ending because his position was the investigative branch of the military police rather than combat arms. He recalls the situation not as his being forced out of service because of the amputation; he tells us instead that the Army was quite keen on his staying in. He was the one who elected to leave lest he never be able to escape the military mind-set.

    I don’t think those particulars qualify him for a military retirement. I hope someone who knows the UK military customs and rules in such matters checks in to tell us if Cormoran could have retired on disability.

  6. My questions would center around the writing, and the violence level.

    Specifically, I’d as what they left in, and what got taken out. Was this done, for time, or to reduce any potential shock value? Do their deletions still manages to retain all the major, important story beats, the ones that can’t be taken out without altering the story beyond recognition?

    Also, the Striker a typical Noir Thriller, which means its violence level borders pretty much on the Slasher film in terms of the violence level.
    are you willing to go the “Breaking Bad” route, and keep most of the violence intact? For instance, do they leave the set piece of Owen Quine’s murder as it is in the book? Or did you decide to rewrite that scene altogether? Doing so would constitute a major change, as Rowling made sure that seen had thematic resonance.

    Also, changing up certain moments of violence could alter her message about assault against women. Have any of the scenes that tackle this issue been altered as well?

    Just asking.

  7. Just thought of something.

    How would they handle something like “Bombix Mori”? That text within the text is sort of one of the key plot elements in “Silkworm”. If you take that out, and leave Quine’s murder scene intact, then that scene, along with a lot of the rest of the narrative will have no context or motivation.

    Leaving it all in, however, could pose some problems. I don’t know how mainstream, non-Strike reading, audiences will handle a concept as cerebral as “Bombix”. Maybe you can just show Strike reading the text, and just give enough proper hints so that audiences can connect the dots when “The Silkworm’s” big set piece comes in. At least that’s the best strategy I can think of doing. Toss off enough hints to pique the audiences interest without alienating them, which is what “Bombix” would probably do, in all likelihood.

    I just hope they realize its an important plot element and don’t botch it up.

  8. John Rokeby left Leda well before her death. The guy who supposedly caused her death was not Rokeby but her last boyfriend, Jeff Whittaker.

  9. Yes, Roman, this is true!

    But do you think the over-arching story in the Strike mysteries is about Jeff Whittaker?

    Neither do I. There’s much more to the death of Leda Strike than her disagreements with Whittaker, her husband not boyfriend, about her secret fortune he was convinced she was keeping from him.

    Hence the assumption in my questions that the super bad-guy is the never revealed but looming presence of Jonny Rokeby. I think we’ll get the connection between Rokeby and Whittaker in Book 4 or Book 5.

    Thank you, though, for sharing your thought!

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