Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger play a detective duo in a tense crime drama based on JK rowling’s best-selling novels
Sun & Mon / BBC1 I’m not surprised the Beeb asked to adapt JK Rowling’s Comoran Strike detective novels, written under the name of Robert Galbraith, as soon as the first story was published in 2013. Four years on, the drama – starring Tom Burke as private eye Strike and Holliday Grainger as his sidekick (both right) – has to be one of 2017’s most anticipated dramas…
Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling sun & Mon / bbc1 / 9.05pm & 9.00pm
He may not be a marvel at Quidditch, but JK rowling’s shrewd but dishevelled private eye Cormoran Strike is every bit as compelling as her boy wizard, Harry Potter.
Strike is the hero of a series of best-selling novels written under the pen name of Robert Galbraith and now The Musketeers star
Tom Burke is bringing him to life in BBC1 drama Strike.
The first story, The Cuckoo’s Calling, will be followed by The Silkworm, with another tale,
Career of Evil, airing early next year.
Clad in a tweed overcoat with a cigarette or stodgy food in his mouth and a pint of beer in his hand, cashstrapped Strike has a tatty office in London’s Denmark Street.
The psychologically and physically damaged war veteran wears a prosthetic leg after being injured in Afghanistan as a Royal Military Policeman. He also has a complex private life, as he’s camping out in his office after breaking up with his fiancée and is estranged from his rock-star father.
‘I heard Chris Evans describe him on the radio as a cross between Cracker and Columbo and I like that!’ laughs Tom, 36, as TV Times joins him during a break in filming at a west London studio.
‘Strike’s a huge man, so I started lifting heavy things and eating more to bulk up. He’s actually quite fragile, though. He’s had this exotic, weird childhood and is very gruff, but he has real heart, warmth and wit, and is also a grafter.’
When keen young office temp Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) arrives in Strike’s chaotic world, the spirited secretary soon organises his office into some sort of order.
‘Someone told me there’s a lot of JK Rowling in Robin but when I read it, I thought, “She’s just like me”. Every woman I’ve spoken to says the same because she has all the likeable qualities that you to have for yourself: she’s brave, intelligent and compassionate,’ says Holliday, 29, as she joins us.
Robin also has a flair for detective work as she helps research their first case, which centres on a supermodel (Elarica Johnson), found dead after falling from her Mayfair penthouse.
‘Strike finds Robin invaluable because she is practical and driven,’ says Holliday, who found fame in Where the Heart Is before starring in The Borgias and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. ‘She always wanted to be an investigator and she has an aptitude for it, but he never patronises her.
It’s not about two polished detectives, it’s about a damaged, interesting man and a young woman learning her craft. They’re finding out about each other.’
As the series continues, a strong bond of friendship develops between Robin and her boss but, even though Robin is engaged to fiancé Matt, could it become something more?
‘For Robin and Strike, it’s always there, underneath everything,’ says Tom. Strike is surrounded by evil people and Robin is the opposite because she is generous, giving and insightful – the perfect woman for him, but it’s inconvenient.’
Portraying Strike’s disability was the biggest challenge for Tom. The drama has used a body double and CGI to convey Strike’s missing leg, while the actor has also had to adapt the way he walks.
‘I worked with a movement coach and chatted to my body double Mark and our advisor Barney, who have the same injury as Strike. I spent a day going up and down stairs and sitting and standing. You barely see a limp when he is walking but, if he climbs or runs, he’s really in pain.’
Tom and Holliday were keen to satisfy fans of the books, who have taken the characters to their hearts.
‘I went to a wedding and so many women came up excited that I was playing Robin because they love her, so I feel the pressure and I hope I’ve done her justice,’ says Holliday, who was also keen for executive producer JK Rowling to approve her take.
‘The fact she hasn’t said anything negative is the biggest compliment! I was a massive Harry Potter geek and when I met her in the toilet at the first script readthrough, I was thrilled that the person who flushed the chain at the same time as me was JK Rowling!’
It’s about a damaged, interesting man and a young woman learning her craft Holliday Grainger
drama / 9.05pm / BBC1
He’s made his name playing dashing soldiers in War & Peace and The Musketeers and now Tom Burke is stealing the show again as a rather scruffier military man. In this gripping series based on novels by JK Rowling, Tom is Cormoran Strike, an army veteran now working as a private detective in London. Although Strike gets off to an inauspicious start with office temp Robin (Holliday Grainger), the pair are soon putting their heads together to look into the mysterious death of a top fashion model. Look out for Martin Shaw as the victim’s unpleasant uncle who threatens Strike but may come to realise he has messed with the wrong man… Continues tomorrow.
Strike investigates the death of model Lula Landry (elarica Johnson) JK rowling says she’s wanted to write crime novels for years Tom Burke filming on location outside Strike’s denmark Street offices
Tom Burke as JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike