Strik­ing out for the truth:

Harry Pot­ter cre­ator weaves her magic with TV de­tec­tive.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

As an au­thor, JK Rowl­ing can do no wrong. Af­ter the im­mense suc­cess of her Harry Pot­ter cy­cle of nov­els, films and plays, she went on to pro­duce a highly re­garded se­ries of de­tec­tive sto­ries un­der the pseu­do­nym Robert Gal­braith.

Those books, which fo­cus on the in­ves­ti­ga­tions of pri­vate de­tec­tive Cor­moran Strike and his as­sis­tant Robin El­la­cott, have now been turned into CB Strike, a Bri­tish drama screen­ing on SoHo and fea­tur­ing the nov­els The Cuckoo’s Call­ing, The Silk­worm and Ca­reer Of Evil.

Strike, played by Tom Burke, is a war vet­eran who be­came a pri­vate de­tec­tive on leav­ing the Army. He now works out of a shoe­box-sized of­fice in Den­mark Street in cen­tral Lon­don.

This for­mer Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions Branch worker has suf­fered se­ri­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal wounds – his mother was mur­dered and he lost a leg in com­bat in Afghanistan.

How­ever, this has not im­paired his un­canny abil­i­ties as a pri­vate de­tec­tive as he steps in to solve cases that have foxed the po­lice.

Robin is por­trayed by Hol­l­i­day Grainger (Great Ex­pec­ta­tions, The Bor­gias). At the out­set, she is Strike’s tem­po­rary sec­re­tary, try­ing to bring or­der to his sham­bolic life.

But she soon demon­strates her tal­ents as an in­ves­ti­ga­tor and be­gins to help him with his caseload.

Burke, who also had star­ring roles in The Mus­ke­teers and War And Peace, un­der­scores that Strike is such a good pri­vate de­tec­tive be­cause of his sense of cu­rios­ity.

“I feel with Strike that he has grown up wit­ness to, and has en­coun­tered, evil,” says Burke.

“He does know what it looks like and smells like and he’s ready to act on it if it needs to be con­fronted. He’s al­ways an in­di­vid­ual and he doesn’t pre­tend to know why. He tries to find out and is cu­ri­ous.”

The ac­tor says that Strike is also ef­fec­tive in his work be­cause he is al­ways in­de­pen­dent-minded.

“We’re liv­ing in a time where peo­ple are point­ing at a lot of groups and go­ing, ‘It’s the left, it’s the right, it’s the Leavers, it’s the Re­main­ers, it’s the UK, it’s the other lot.’

“I don’t think Strike cre­ates those mono­liths. I think there’s this al­most an­cient Greek sense in Strike – and I don’t think he’d even put it in these words – that if the Gods are not against us nec­es­sar­ily, they’re cer­tainly mess­ing with us.”

Strike also man­i­fests a pow­er­ful trait that is cru­cial in any good de­tec­tive: com­pas­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to Burke, “Life is tricky for most peo­ple – it cer­tainly is for him. It’s not just tricky be­cause he lost the bot­tom third of his leg, it’s not tricky just be­cause his mother was mur­dered, or just be­cause of what hap­pened to him in his child­hood – it’s just tricky.”

The other in­trigu­ing side to Strike is that, un­like many TV de­tec­tives, he is far from in­fal­li­ble.

Burke, 36, re­flects that, “I re­ally like the fact that some­times he gets it half right, but not com­pletely right. In The Cuckoo’s Call­ing, for in­stance, he be­lieves he knows this par­tic­u­lar per­son is the killer.

“But he hon­estly feels that if he presents them with the facts, they’ll crum­ble – and they might even be re­lieved. There’s a slightly older brother qual­ity to it.

“Whilst he has got the right per­son, that is ab­so­lutely not how they re­act, so he’s com­pletely taken by sur­prise by that.”

The ac­tor adds, “That to me is much more in­ter­est­ing than some­body who ab­so­lutely knows how ev­ery­thing is go­ing to play out. I like the fact this is a bit dif­fer­ent. It’s a bit more hu­man.”

But the core of this se­ries’ ap­peal is the un­ac­knowl­edged love that is grow­ing be­tween Strike and Robin. Their feel­ings sneak up on them un­awares.

Burke says, “The in­ter­est­ing thing with Robin and Strike ini­tially is that they’re con­tin­u­ally taken by sur­prise by each other. ‘Who is this per­son? Oh, they’re quite nice, they’re quite in­tel­li­gent.’ I think be­cause they both have a bit of a blind spot about the idea that this might be more than what it is, it gives them a cer­tain free­dom to en­joy all of the other things that it is.

“So when Robin sud­denly says, ‘I’ve got a job in­ter­view’, Strike is taken aback. It’s that sense that you don’t re­alise what you’ve got till it’s gone. The idea that they don’t re­ally know what’s go­ing on is what’s fun about it. That’s the charm of it.”

“I feel with Strike that he has grown up wit­ness to, and has en­coun­tered, evil.”

– Tom Burke

Hol­l­i­day Grainger as Robin El­la­cott

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