A new series of ‘Shetland’ is being broadcast at the moment; based on Ann Cleeves novels set on the Scottish islands, it is now in the third series. I think it is getting better each time; the first series seemed rather dull and slow moving and the characters didn’t seem to relate to each other particularly. However, I watched all he episodes and went on to watch the second and now the third series which I am enjoying.
However… There is always a however! However, although I appreciate that when a novel transfers to the screen, TV or cinema, it is bound to be different from what people who have read the book imagine, there should be certain key points which have to be included in some way or another otherwise it doesn’t have the same impact or make as much sense. I realise that each of our imaginings will be different from each other’s, but when there is a big point made about a character’s appearance, which affects the way people consider him, and the way he views them, then I really think it should be included – even if it is not exactly identical as what was in the book. For example, if a character is very religious then that fact should be included, and if she or he is changed from being Catholic to Protestant or the other way round for some reason, well, fair enough, he or she can still be devout and make decisions because of their attitudes and faith. or if a character is French in the book and German in the film, it could still work.
In the Shetland books on which the series is based, the main character is the detective investigating the crimes, Jimmy Perez; he is dark-haired and olive-skinned, of distant Spanish ancestry, and although he is Scottish through and through, he looks like a foreigner and is treated by some as such, as an outsider. As he is very much an ‘insider’ this can give him an advantage. Because he has always been treated as different, he is a little apart from the other islanders, sees them with more objectivity. Inn the TV series, he is blond and looks very much the same as everyone else – which loses the whole point of the author calling him Perez, and making him different.
If I should ever be so fortunate to have my novels televised – in my dreams most likely!! – it is really crucial that my main character Thomas Radwinter is fat, red-haired and very shy and lacking in confidence; if he is tall, slim and dark-haired it would change the whole story-line, not just his appearance!
My latest Radwinter novel is available here: