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

Wednesday 7 August 2013, 10:05

Denise Mina Denise Mina Author

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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.

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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.

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'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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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    This worked well; Life on Mars without time travel. It was seedy and there was even a Cortina for steamy inter profession liaison.

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    Comment number 2.

    HI watched the first instalment last night and was bitterly disapointed in the direction and poor production values. What a waste of onscreen talent it in no way conveyed an 80's setting or feel.
    The lack of the directors understanding of the screenplay was shocking and at times the photography lacked any imagination or flair.
    BBC if we are to compete with the production standards of Sky and ITV then surely we must produce to better standards.
    A complete waste of Morrisey and Kennedys talents-poor show.
    Budget problems perhaps or in episode 2 are we to be treated to more CGI shots of the Barrs Irn Bru Sign?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Saw the first installment last night ,excellent, better than the first series which was very good ,ca'nt wait for tonight's viewing .Deinse Mina's comment is modest and revealing. Do'nt know where "Critique" was in the 80's but the drama captured the period and Glasgow perfectly.Maybe a Murdoch mole or a disappointed director?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    River city with flairs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Brilliant!!! Just loved it. This has to be a regular series, full of potential. Well done Denise!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It was good as far as the acting goes but the costume! Oh dear where do I start? Hipster jeans and biker boots? No one wore those in 84! The blurring of the background wasn't good enough either as I swear I saw a clio or Ka in the distance, but then am I just being picky? Otherwise I enjoyed it

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I thocht it wis pure dead brilliant.

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    Comment number 8.

    I really enjoyed this and thought it much more fired up than the usual limp BBC dramas. The story was gripping and the casting excellent. It had a gritty realism with its strong story and interesting characters, plus the back-stories. The only thing I didn't like was that it was too short! Two episodes is only enough to whet the appetite. More please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I don't post comments habitually like some people, but I've just watched the first part of The Field Of Blood series 2 on BBC iplayer, and it's a very, very well crafted drama in all respects.
    "Critique" whoever you are, your comments are more than wide of the mark, they're boarderline insulting to the cast and crew, and, as Daniel implies, you sound a little disgruntled about something, the lady doth protest too much methinks...
    Implying this show has poor standards is just wrong.
    The direction, production values and photography are, if anything, stylish and understated, quite the reverse of what you suggest, you probably adore CSI Miami.
    The balance of being set in '84, which still had a lot of 70's style wall paper, furniture, telephones and colour palettes bleeding through, demonstrates a delicate touch and subtle consideration. If not, its a sublime mixture of props that worked very well for me.
    This has culminated in a great drama, with believable characters, set in a pivotal time, the political mistakes of which we are still living with today...overarching, linking themes with modern relevance. How could you pack in any more?
    In truth, the whole production team probably did have a fight on their hands with regard to the budget, like most TV production in this modern era, more and more quality is expected for less and less investment, coupled with aggressive shooting schedules, you're up against it even with a following wind and plenty of backing.
    But this has not been reflected in the final product, I just know this from my own experience. Great work everyone involved, lets hope someone with clout at the BBC has the sense to commission more series and episodes, keeping these very talented creatives employed and out of mischief.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Saw part 2 last night ,it got even better, with an ironic twist at the end. Jayd Johnson has developed ,and is a fantastic find ,she dominated the programme. I'm certain we'll hear more of her before long in this kind of quality drama. I thought the weak link was Kennedy ,my wife tells me she's from Corie ,she ought to have stayed there ,the Manchester whine grated and she was one dimensional ,even though I know she was not meant to be a sympathetic character. More please ,I know I love gritty stuff ,Downton Abbey etc tripe not my scene. Must now read Denise Mina's books...

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I haven't read Ms Mina's books, but I've thoroughly enjoyed the adaptation of both. Jayd Johnson is excellent, and the combination of Paddy and McVie works beautifully. I remember the eighties and the miners' strikes only too well, and personally I thought the period was portrayed very accurately. I hope there might be a third adaptation coming up?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Haven't read the book so came to this a bonny virgin. Just watched episode 1 and 2 on iplayer and loved it. Thank you. x

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I have to take issue with Vicky: I've had an expert look at the clothes ( second hand clothes seller - duds obsessive) and she tells me that the fashions are correct. I myself was a shaved head, DMs and donkey jacket sort of gal but the badges and belts are dead right, she says. She's a close friend with no capacity to censor herself so she isn't being nice, I promise.
    Rosemary: Hopefully the third book in the series will be adapted. It's being developed by the same people right now.
    Jason: I think you're right, production budget was an issue. It was small and I think the production team did a great job. The Eighties were a tacky period so it works in the favour. I don't think a lavish production always lends itself to great story telling though. Sometimes it can distract from the characterisation or plotting.
    Critique: I don't know if you read the credits but the director didn't misunderstand the screenplay: he wrote it. The Irn Bru sign wasn't CGI, it was handmade and hung above central station.

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    Comment number 14.

    More, please... credible 1984 scenario, strong characters, the cub reporter.. nice twist to the end.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    this was brilliant. I want to see more - what happens to Paddy next??


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