Dead Simple, the first episode of the new Grace series, stars John Simm as Superintendent Grace and Richie Campbell as his sidekick, DS Glen Branson.
Mr James, who moved to Jersey three years ago with his wife, Lara, said that he had turned away a number of approaches to screen his fictional detective before agreeing on the current collaboration with Russell Lewis, whose screen credits include Inspector Morse, its prequel, Endeavour, and its sequel, Lewis, as well as Spooks and The Bill.
‘The key is to get the right writer, and Russ and I clicked. He told me he would not change anything I wasn’t happy with, and he has been true to his word. ITV involved me on every single casting decision from John Simm [as Roy Grace] to the smallest role, and they have a producer, Kiaran Murray-Smith, who is a Brighton boy, so he really gets and loves the city.
‘I’ve tried to show Brighton as the amazing city and the character of light and dark that it is,’ Mr James said.
Known for his insistence on getting the detail of police procedure and the psychology of detectives absolutely right, Mr James made one refinement to the adaptation after showing a filmed scene to Jersey’s police chief, Robin Smith, who previously held the post of assistant chief commissioner.
‘He made the point that what a good boss in the police does if they are giving someone a *******ing is they give it in such a way that the person doesn’t walk away loathing them. They do it in such a way that they say “Yes, I have screwed up and I’m going to make sure that I do better next time” – it’s a subtle difference.’
Jersey, which featured as a location in Mr James’s recent book, I Follow You, has a fleeting reference in tomorrow’s drama. A character crucial to the plot has been stranded in Jersey by fog, an adaptation made with Mr James’ approval by Russell Lewis.
Peter James is the subject of the Saturday Interview on pages 10 and 11.