BBC1 ‘Strike’ Trailer and Clips

First thoughts: Grainger is a great match for Robin in appearance, inflection, and seriousness.

Burke as Strike? No doubt he is an excellent actor who is going to give this his all, but thespian skills and earnestness cannot make short, handsome, and svelte seem huge, ugly, and fat. For book readers, that’s always going to grate.

But he commands attention, that’s for sure. I listened ten times to the trailer’s closing exchange with Robin as he leaves the office and I never understood what he said. “I’m a boozer”? Must be the biscuit (cookie) he’s eating.

Guy Some seemingly tall, conventional, even straight, and definitely in a business suit? At least he’s black.

John Bristow in these snips doesn’t appear pathetic or buck-toothed but the actors playing Cyprian May, Lady Bristow, Ciarra Porter, Eric Wordle, and Rochelle Onifade look promising.

Your thoughts?


  1. I want to be slightly optimistic after viewing these clips. For the most part, it looks like they are hitting the major story beats. Holiday Grainger seems alright. The idea I have of John Bristow doesn’t match the image in my head, and it doesn’t matter at all to me.

    Still, the most prudent coarse of action seems to be just sit back, wait, and watch.

    In the meantime, I did find some more helpful clips. In one, Tom Burke talks about his with the series stuntmen. It really is eye-opening.

    In a second, the series crew talks about the nature of this adaptation:

    Finally, the stars talk about their favorite literary detectives.

  2. I actually quite like Burke from what I’ve seen so far. I think he fits the role quite well, with his darkish, somewhat bearlike appearance, and not being too handsome (what’s that scar on his lip?). While I’m aware that literary heroes musn’t be “perfect”, I find that in modern literature leading characters are often incongruously described as exaggeratedly ugly, maimed or handicapped. Incongruously because as heroes they do need to have some charisma, to exert a certain fascination to other characters and the reader alike. Take Tyrion, the dwarf in A Song of Ice and Fire – in the book, he’s WAY uglier than the brilliant Peter Dinklage in the series – so much so that it certainly wouldn’t work in a film, especially since he’s also described as a character who has a way with women. The same goes for Strike. Seriously: Hairy, peg-legged AND overweight is bit much for someone paired with the most beautiful women… incidentally, this is precisely the thing I hate about French movies: They regularly pair ugly, fat (and often old) men with beautiful, slender young women. Personally, I hardly ever see that combination in real life – rather, like and like usually goes together, and I remember reading some statistics to that effect somewhere. In short, I keep asking myself when Strike will finally stop sulking and find his way to a gym. To sum up: While literary characters may be extreme in many ways, the actors casted in their roles usually are more normal, because the literary extremity would be ridiculous if portrayed one-to-one. As long as the actors do a good job and manage to convey the impression intended for the character by *acting*, that’s fine with me. Incidentally, Twilight’s Edward is a case in point, albeit the opposite way: Since the literary figure is so exaggeratedly described as fascinating, perfect and beautiful, it was quite impossible to cast an actor that even came close to conveying the necessary fascination. It’s possible to act “ugly”; it’s far more difficult, if not impossible, to act “beautiful and godlike perfection”. The film series was thus condemned from the start.

  3. Beatrice Groves says

    Hi John!

    That line you can’t hear is ‘at the boozer’ (that being English slang for a pub). Not what a prospective client wants to hear…

  4. “At the boozer.” [Thank you, Beatrice.]

    Atextual, alas! Start logging those canon conflicts, folks.

  5. The UK journal, The Telegraph has released a piece on everyone’s favorite gumshoe scribbler. What’s notable about the piece is that it is one of the few instances of a Media outlet being at least somewhat perceptive about J.K. Rowling’s art. I don’t mean that it gets anywhere near past the first layer of her work. While it may be possible to come across an actual perceptive review here or there, such experiences are perhaps forever the exception. It was George MacDonald who observed that when it comes to discovering meaning in a work of art a man can only see “Not what he pleases, but what he can”.

    For that reason it’s nice to have piece written by someone who maybe can’t see “for miles, and miles”. The critic does, however, at least have his sensibilities close to the pulse. For that reason, I thought I’d pass the article along, for what it’s worth. Below are some samples that illustrate just why I thought it worth singling out. As for the claims of its title, I think her first work will overshadow anything that comes after, though that will never be an acceptable reason to sell the rest of her work short. At least it doesn’t seem that way to me. The article can be found here:

    Feel free to drop your two cents if you’re in the market. Thanks!


    “Of course, Rowling created the expansive, magical world of Hogwarts Castle with its rolling grounds and fabulous feasts when she was a single mother on benefits. She is not short of a bob or two now, I understand, and with the ability to go wherever she likes in the world, her imagination seems to have become drawn to the insalubrious. She is, perhaps, ready now to draw on her own memories of poverty to evoke the circumscribed life of the dirt-poor Strike, reduced to sleeping on the floor of his tiny, smelly office, in a dingy part of Soho that is brought to life with as much conviction as Diagon Alley.

    “Those who know about Rowling’s battles with the press over her privacy will not be surprised that the Rita Skeeters of the muggle world come in for sharp comment in the Strike books. Perhaps the emotional core of the series is Strike’s difficult relationship with his famous rock star father; and the reason this storyline has such power may have much to do with Rowling’s fears, as revealed in her testimony to the Leveson Inquiry, about the damaging effects her fame may have had on her own children (web)”.

    “There have been grumbles from some crime writers that the BBC has been playing it too safe in picking Rowling to dramatize, and one complained in a particularly fatuous article that Rowling was being selfish in adopting the genre and stealing away other crime novelists’ readers; but even the grumblers have acknowledged that, unlike some other recent genre-hoppers (Tony Parsons springs to mind), her crime fiction is high-quality stuff.
    The novelist Val McDermid was one of those who championed The Cuckoo’s Calling before she knew the author’s true identity, declaring that the book “reminds me why I fell in love with crime fiction in the first place (ibid).”

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