“I love this book, it was a very, very big success for me,” said author Anthony Horowitz of his 2016 novel. Magpie murders. During a recent TCA At the press conference, the author spoke about adapting his own work into a series, which will premiere tonight PBS as part of Masterpiece. “I’ve been with Jill . worked [Green] already 16 years Foyle’s War, and that was hundreds and hundreds of hours of my life, and that’s a show I’m extremely proud of,” he added, with his series production partner also his wife. “I also worked a lot with Susanne [Simpson] and also PBS. I know they’re very, very good and a profitable collaboration that I’ve enjoyed over the years, so for me it was a good idea… It was one of the happiest productions I’ve ever been involved in. ‘
The premise of Magpie murders surrounding the suspicious death of a mystery writer, though the novel’s structure didn’t necessarily lend itself to an easy series adaptation. “It was hugely ambitious what you did, to grab your own book and then almost sit down and re-edit it in a very, very different way, and yet it’s still the whole spirit of the book,” Jill Green shared and spoke directly with Anthony. Jill serves as executive producer on the project through Eleventh Hour Film. “You basically threw it in the air and finally landed it, which is really, really hard to do, especially if you’ve written the book as well. And you did after many, many designs and great guidance from Susanne, because we had all worked together on Foyle’s War, so we had a bit of a history there. But it was a challenging adjustment and I think we did well. We didn’t want the public to get confused. That was very important to us, great clarity and seamless editing and movement from the 50s to now.”
“In the book you have two completely separate worlds,” added Anthony about two of the main characters, Atticus Pünd and Susan Ryelan. “They don’t really meet. The first 100 pages is one world, the second 300 pages is the other. But in this one, each world is intertwined with the other, so it was suddenly clear that Susan’s character or Pünd’s character should meet, and for me one of the joys of writing the script was that it was always a love is relationship. There is such friendship and closeness between [Leslie Manville and Tim McMullan]. Tim, of course, Jill and I previously had two seasons of Foyle’s Warso we knew we would hand the part over to this very safe pair of hands.”
“There’s a fantastic difference that Atticus has from every other detective we’ve seen, which is that he understands his own place within a fictional genre, which he can express out loud,” explains Tim McMullan of the fictional detective he plays, the creation of a recently deceased author who appears to Susan as she tries to understand what happened. “He’s talking to Susan, who he understands. He sees her driving a car of a different age, and he smiles to himself. He understands that he is in a machine, and yet he exists as a human being.”
Atticus Pünd is the creation of the late author Alan Conway, who left the world with his long-awaited next mystery unfinished, a grumpy novelist who began to despise his own creation. “I’m fascinated by writers,” Anthony Horowitz revealed. Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, the greatest detective who ever lived, and hates him so much and feels that he is so far below him that he throws him off a waterfall near Reichenbach falls. Ian Fleming creates James Bond and talks about him as child fiction, kind of kiss-kiss and bang-bang, and has a bit of a slight disdain for him. I find that fascinating in writers who create great characters and then feel like they’re somehow below them.” For the record, Anthony promises he has no disdain for his own characters.
Susan Ryelan, Alan’s editor who picks up the pieces, has not only an unfinished manuscript, but also questions about what happened to her star author. “She knows the way to solve the crime is through the book, and the main person in the book is Atticus, and in a way they become one mind,” Oscar nominee Lesley Manville revealed of her character. “She’s not a detective, she’s a publisher, but she’s got those detective antennas on the way. She knows that the way to get to the crime is through the book and through Atticus. I just love that she can see him, and he can see her, but they can only see each other.” Lesley was also drawn to playing an uncompromising woman over 50. “She doesn’t need to explain herself. She has chosen not to marry, she has chosen not to have children, she has a nice boyfriend who she sees whenever she wants, and she still drives an open top sports car. She doesn’t conform to anything at all… I’m so glad Anthony didn’t write her as 20 or 30 years old. It’s just so amazing that she has all this gravitas and experience and she just doesn’t conform. It is awesome. And we need to see more women on film across the board representing women in that way, because oddly enough you can still be pretty exciting even if you’re over 50.”
Another dream collaborator on the project was director Peter Cattaneo, whose hits include: The full Monty and Military Women. “He had never done anything in the field of mystery and crime,” Anthony said. “I’ve never worked with a director who has so exalted the material and who came to the set every day with such an incredible vision of how to bring these two worlds and so much story together in a way that was both delightful and understandable.” . Awesome.”
With critics in the UK already singing the praises of Magpie murdersyou can finally see it for yourself on PBS, part of Masterpiece, airing Sundays at 9/8c through November 20.