Tag Archives: Skyfall

TV Crime Log: Dreadful, Quirke

Penny DreadfulTen years ago, fans of Alan Moore’s comic book The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which featured a host of iconic 19th Century genre characters – Hyde, Nemo, Mina Harker et al – foamed at the mouth at the prospect of the movie version. Sadly, that particular blockbuster proved something of a cinematic abomination – but the concept remains a good one.

The new series Penny Dreadful, which is on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday night at 9pm, takes another stab at the gothic monster mash-up. Victor Frankenstein’s rambunctious boy, Dorian Gray, Mina Harker and other public domain characters all pop up along the way.

Josh Hartness is in it, and Timothy Dalton – we like him – and Eva Green, we certainly like her – and it looks lavish and atmospheric. The writer is John Logan, a successful screenwriter who penned Skyfall and Hugo. Penny Dreadful – the title, of course, refers to the lurid Victorian magazines that peddled cheap and sensational thrills – runs for the next eight weeks, so it’ll be good fun to guess which horror icons make an appearance.

QuirkeThere’s a new crime drama on Sunday night which ticks all the right boxes. It’s got lots of hats because it’s set in the ‘50s, in this case Dublin – tick! The protag is a charismatic loner who likes a drink – tick! He’s got lots of dark secrets – tick! And he’s only got a surname – tickety-tick!

Quirke is about the chief pathologist in the city morgue and is based on the books of Benjamin Black, who’s the crime pseudonym of John Banville. It stars Gabriel Byrne. I’ll watch Byrne in anything – and he’s wearing a hat which makes me doubly-excited. He was, of course, in Miller’s Crossing, which was full of hats.

You’ll be wanting the blurb for the first episode, so you will:

Late autumn in Dublin 1956, and city pathologist Quirke stumbles in late one night from a party in the nurses’ quarters, with a view to sleeping off his hangover in his pathology lab.

To Quirke’s surprise, he finds obstetric consultant Malachy Griffin, his adoptive brother, at his desk completing some paperwork for a recently deceased patient named Christine Falls. Mal is not thrilled to see Quirke, a fact that troubles Quirke when he returns the next morning to find Christine’s body gone.

Consumed by curiosity over what Mal may have been up to, Quirke calls the body back from the morgue and performs a full post mortem. There is little love lost between Quirke and Mal, so Quirke is determined to call his brother to account, and as he closes in on Mal’s secret, he stirs up a hornets’ nest of trouble for himself.

As the trail turns darker and more violent Quirke’s investigations take him to Boston, and to the very heart of his complicated extended family. During his trip, Quirke uncovers the truth about a family secret that has remained buried for nearly 20 years, and begins to understand that there are some truths that may be better left unspoken.

Quirke will be looking unimpressed on BBC1 on Sunday night at 9pm.



Thrill Seekers: James Bond

Some fictional characters are as real to us as the person next door. Thrill Seekers invites you to memorise ten — just ten! — facts about some of your favourite Crime Thriller characters. Ian Fleming’s James Bond has sold over 100 million books and he still has a, ahem, licence to thrill…

Unknown1/ James Bond first appeared in the novel Casino Royale in 1953, and many of his characteristics were already fully-formed – the love of fast cars and fast women, and putting bartenders to work making painfully-complicated martinis.  Author Ian Fleming, who worked in Naval Intelligence during the war, based Bond on a number of agents and commandos he had known – but Bond shares many of Fleming’s own characteristics.

2/ Bond smoked up to 70 cigarettes a day, his own special brand of Morlands. When you think about it, it’s amazing that he could climb the stairs, let alone manage all the action stuff.

3/ Fleming wanted his spy to be anonymous, a blunt-instrument. ‘I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happen.’ James Bond was the name of the author of a book called Birds Of The West Indies which languished on Fleming’s bookshelf. It was the dullest name that Fleming could think of. Now that short, terse name is a byword for glamour and action.

images-14/ Six other authors have penned Bond’s exploits since Fleming’s death: Kingsley Amis – writing as Robert Markham – Christopher Wood, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks and Jeffery Deaver.

5/ Bond has been played by a number of actors, all of whom you could probably name off the bat, but Fleming originally wanted David Niven to play the part. Cary Grant was also considered, and Fleming’s own cousin, Christopher Lee. But if you want to know what Bond really looks like, in the novels he’s described more than once as looking like the singer Hoagy Carmichael.images

6/ The movie Skyfall explored Bond’s Scottish roots. Bond has a Scottish father, Andrew Bond, and a Swiss mother,  Monique Delacroix, who died when he was 11. Fleming was a bit sniffy about Connery in the first instance, but his performance eventually won him around, and in his penultimate novel, You Only Live Twice, Fleming finally sketched in Bond’s Scottish background, a knowing nod to Connery. Albert Finney’s role in Skyfall was written for Connery – but because of his iconic status in the franchise the film-makers changed their mind about his appearance.

7/ Bond’s favoured weapon in the novels was a Beretta 418 until, following the release of the Dr. No movie,  a fan wrote to Fleming to inform him that Bond was toting ‘a lady’s gun.’ Fleming changed the pistol to the Walther PPK, introducing the character of Major Boothroyd , the military Quartermaster – and Q division was born.

images-28/ The most-uneventful Bond story is perhaps 007 In New York. Fleming was commissioned to write an article about the city for a book called Thrilling Cities. Fleming, however, was less than thrilled with NY, and instead wrote the short story, in which Bond makes scrambled eggs.

9/ Bond was married once in the books, to Contessa Teresa di Vicenza, or Tracey Draco, the only child of the head of the Union Corse, the Corsican crime syndicate.  Tracey is killed on their wedding day. In the subsequent novel, You Only Live Twice, Bond is a broken man until he extracts revenge from Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

10/ And Bond also had a child. At the end of You Only Live Twice he leaves Japan without knowing he’d got Kissy Suzuki preggers. A Raymond Benson short story called Blast From The Past takes up the story, when he arranges to meet his son, James Suzuki.