30th Jun 2014

In Conversation with Peter Robinson

Recently I welcomed crime writer Peter Robinson to the School of Cultural Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University. In front of a packed audience in Broadcasting Place, we discussed Peter’s award-winning, best-selling novels featuring Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks (televised in the UK as DCI Banks on ITV).

Peter’s detective stories are notable both for their gripping readability and for the contradictions that he manages to blend seamlessly into his characters and plots. These contradictions – the rational investigator versus the emotional human-being, countryside versus city life, pop culture versus classical music and art, deep love and affection versus murder and hate, a quintessential versus a modern, post-industrial, multicultural Yorkshire – would sit awkwardly in a lesser writer’s works… put it down to over-ambition, the generous critic might say.

But in Peter’s writings, these same contradictions enrichen the stories, adding a literary quality to their sense of atmosphere and humanity whilst in no way diminishing their satisfaction as works of thrilling entertainment.

Inevitably I asked Peter his views on the TV adaptations of his novels, and on the whole he was supportive of ITV’s aims and outcomes, though clearly what the author creates bears no resemblance to what directors, script-writers, producers and others collaborate to conjure up.

In my view, Peter’s works would be best served by a feature-film treatment rather than the quick-fire, soul-removing TV dash. Film Four and other British film interests would do well to explore the potential value of a long-running Banks film series set in the beautiful English/Yorkshire Dales countryside - after all, with 21 Banks novels and counting, there’d be no shortage of material.

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