BBC Lethal White Adaptation: Any Good? If You’ve Seen It, Let Us Know!

Our friends in the UK have watched three episodes of the Bronte Studios adaptation of Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White for BBC1. Stateside, of course, we do not have access to the BBCiPlayer in order to watch it online.

It’s been reported that the screenwriters deleted Jack’s appendicitis attack and emergency hospitalization (and the attendant scenes between Robin and Cormoran). The clip above suggests they moved the discovery of the pink blanket well forward in the story. Please tell us there are compensating, creative adaptations in this small-screen version of a big book! Your review is welcome, too, as a comment or Guest Post — get writing, Strikers!

And if anyone has a secret url to where any of the three available episodes can be watched by those of us on the western rim of the Atlantic, thanks in advance for sharing in the comment boxes below.


  1. God, this adaptation–like all of them–is oversimplified and awful. So much of what makes the books so wonderful is their richness in inner monologues, descriptions, thoughts, silent exchanges–and of course NONE of this translates. The two leads have no chemistry and they’ve made Matthew FAR too sympathetic. They’re terrible.

  2. Wow, I really disagree! I think they’ve done a great job adapting the books. It might be my fondness for British crime drama, but I think they’re great, and the casting is spot on. Just like the Harry Potter movies, I think you have to go in not expecting to get the same experience as the books; they’ll always be the source text, the original version, with all the nuance, details and backstory JKR gives us that are impossible to condense onto screen. Yes, they have to change and simplify the plots, but there’s such a joy (especially as someone who doesn’t live in the UK) to seeing the locations – the moody pubs, the overhead shots of the White Horse of Uffington, Camden market and the parliament buildings.

    And wow, the internet certainly doesn’t think Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger have no chemistry. Every single review I’ve read can’t stop talking about their obvious chemistry and I’ve loved watching the progression of the actors friendship/chemistry throughout the series. Yeah, Tom Burke is definitely more conventionally good-looking than Strike in the books, he’s not quite tall and large enough, but who cares, he’s an amazing actor who puts the work in (I mean – he actually starred in Rosmerholm in the West End, so I think he has a serious understanding of the source material). And Holliday is the perfect Robin. I think they capture Robin and Cormoran’s relationship perfectly, and it’s what keeps me watching. Even JKR has mentioned that she’s started to see her characters as Tom and Holiday portray them. That scene where Robin leaves Matt – phew, it was perfect! And this series has been taking chunks of the text directly from the books, as well as adding some lovely new conversations between Strike/Robin.

    I’m not sure how I would feel about the show if I hadn’t read the books; but as a serious JKR fan, I’ll happily watch anything she’s involved with. As an executive director, and someone who talks to the actors, I think she’s giving us another view into the books. Can’t wait for the last part!

    If you’re not in the UK, you can torrent them (I know, not legal, but I’m not waiting a year to watch them), or try the Subreddit r/UKTVLAND, they post google drive links with the shows. There’s a bit of a work around, but it’s all explained in the subreddit.

  3. Nick Jeffery says

    I confess I saw the first three adaptations before reading the books, so I am compelled to see the actors when reading the text. Lethal White is the first of the Galbraiths that I read before watching. There is no slow release of plot, or subtle character development because the medium doesn’t allow it. Given it’s limitations I thought the adaptations have done a wonderful job when compared to other detective dramas. It’s a matter of taste I guess, but for my money Granger and Burke perfectly convey that slightly awkward and stilted British interplay gradually moving to genuine affection. Very much looking forward to episode 4!

  4. Christina Semmens says

    My experience of the watching the tv adaptations was similar to Nick’s of watching the adaptations before reading Lethal White (despite numerous encouragements to read the books by a good friend—sorry, John!). I tend to agree with mojobe that whether you like an adaptation is really about your expectations, and I had none other than a good story, and even with the simplification, the story sucks you in, so interested to see what comes.

  5. Thank you mojobe for the reference to r/uktvland! I was able to see the first three episodes without needing to use a VPN here in the US.

    Enjoying the series on tv so far, but it must he hard to follow if you haven’t read the books.

    As for skipping the hospital scene with Jack, the TV adaptation more than makes up for it in how they handle flashbacks to the wedding reception from both Strike and Robin’s POV.

  6. Beatrice Groves says
  7. I absolutely loved that review from It made me actually cackle out loud.
    And the TV Show has to see what they can adapt and what they have to maybe shift to another part of an episode or (like the scene in the hospital) cut. Nonetheless have they managed to surprise me even though I read the books before I watched the show. I love that they put Cormoran and Robin together on the investigation and not like in the book where they spend half the time apart. The scene where Robin left Matthew was really great; the only thing I missed from that was a comment by Robin that she bested better and more capable opponents and he didn’t even have a knife.
    The chemistry between Burke and Grainger is off the charts in my opinion.
    The thing I really didn’t like was that they made Matt more sympathetic in the show. And Robin seemed a bit more clumsy than in the book.

  8. Bonni Crawford says

    I think it’s a very good adaptation of the book (which I pretty much know by heart). There is a lot of breaking and entering though which is getting a bit much! I understand that TV wants to amp up the drama, but there have been so many breaking-and-enterings (mostly by Robin and Strike) that it’s getting a bit silly. That’s a minor complaint though, overall it’s great, brilliant acting. I love how there are pauses on the two main characters’ faces when they’re thinking something that is specified in the book (e.g. “odd choice for an ‘our song'”, thought Strike). I happily fill in those thoughts in my head and it greatly enhances my enjoyment of the scene.

    If you want to read more reviews from the British public, try the comments section under this review:

    And if you want a ludicrously inaccurate review by two people who seem to hate everything on TV, you can read the actual review that those comments are posted under.

  9. For the lower tech it’s on You Tube for the time being:

    Episode 1

    Episode 2

    Episode 3

    Episode 4

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