The Field Of Blood: Imagine my dismay, it’s better than the book


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Davey Kane has said I was ‘shockingly supportive’ of his adaption of my novel The Field Of Blood for BBC One and I think that needs some explaining.

I went to see the screening of The Field Of Blood series one at a cinema in Glasgow full of trepidation.

Firstly, the cast and crew would be there with the producer and a lot of people who had come to be friends of mine.

Secondly, I had seen nothing. No rushes, no dailies, nothing. I had not one clue what it would be like.

Watch the trailer for the The Field of Blood - The Dead Hour

Now most writers hate adaptations of their work. Those hard-won scenes we fretted over and researched and re-wrote are generally cut out of the story.

The poetic, lyrical descriptions are gone. Worse than that, actors are speaking the dialogue you’ve written and it suddenly seems lumpen and unnatural.

It’s a long process and a lot can go wrong. So hating adaptations is de rigueur among writers.

Let the cheque clear and then generate publicity by denouncing the film with the added bonus of an implication that you’d have done a better job if they’d let you write it.

Anyway, sitting in the cinema with eyes boring into the back of my head I forgot I’d written the book.

When I came out someone asked me about the changes, were they ok? And I hadn’t noticed any.

In fairness the day after I handed the book in I went into hospital and had my first child so the details of the plot weren’t exactly at the forefront of my mind.

Now, the second series of The Field Of Blood, I was ready for this one. I had a snooty face, pinched mouth and sat down to watch.

'There's a new sheriff in town.' Editor in chief Maloney greets the newsroom

Imagine my dismay: it was better than the book.

Kane had an advantage over me: I wrote the novel The Dead Hour on which it is based before Leveson and the revelations about cover ups of sexual abuse scandals and Hillsborough.

The 80s were a dark time with nasty, fearsome undercurrents, but it was an inkling, a suspicion. What Kane has managed to do in his adaptation is bring that sense of truly ominous threat and explain why journalists allowed that to happen.

They were worried about their jobs. A commonplace explanation for a major breach in our civic defences against the state.

I had just seen it and met Iain Banks and told him it was better than the book.

“Hmm,” he said, “Yes, that happened to me once. It’s a mixed blessing. People go off and buy the book afterwards and then write to complain.”

I have a standard form letter of apology ready on my desk.

Denise Mina is an author whose novels The Field Of Blood and The Dead Hour have been adapted into The Field Of Blood.

The Field Of Blood starts on Thursday, 8 August at 9pm on BBC One and BBC One HD and concludes on Friday, 9 August. For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

More on The Field Of Blood
Inside Media Track: Exclusive Interview: ‘Field Of Blood’ star Jayd Johnson on series 2
BBC: Denise Mina talks about the character Paddy Meehan
BBC: Watch Denise Mina and Jayd Johnson discuss the adaptation

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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