The BBC breathes life into Benjamin Black’s books

A few weeks ago the lovely people at the BFI invited me to an exclusive BBC preview screening of a new crime drama called ‘Quirke’.

The series, based upon the Benjamin Black books (pseudonym of the award-winning Irish writer John Banville) has been adapted by the critically acclaimed screenwriters Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson and will be aired on BBC One in a prime-time slot.

Gabriel Byrne plays ‘Quirke’

Quirke (played by Gabriel Byrne) is the chief pathologist of Dublin city morgue. He is a man laden with emotional baggage, which has clearly led him to develop more than fleeting acquaintance with alcohol and nicotine. However, despite his past ghosts, or because of them, Quirke is a man of great integrity who is prepared to expose the truth when others seek to hide it.

Set in 1950’s Dublin, the BBC have made every effort to carefully chose sets that give the impression of the era but do not place too much demand on the viewers’ attention. A clever application of sepia tones helps to portray a vintage feel and the music acts as a heartbeat, setting the pace of the story. It is also worth mentioning that the footage was shot entirely in and around Dublin, which brings a sense of authenticity to the programme.

This first series will contain three episodes covering the book titles ‘Christine Falls’, ‘The Silver Swan’ and ‘Elegy for April’. The episode I was treated to was ‘Christine Falls’. I won’t say too much as I do not want to spoil it for you but what I will say is that Quirke does exactly what every good crime drama should – it hooks you with a plot littered with twists and keeps you guessing right up to its very end.

After the screening author John Banville said:

“We as humans have an amazing capacity to know and not know what is happening. Ambiguity is the essence of life and the soul of crime fiction, which is why I have admired it all my life. I am very excited to see my character Quirke incarnated by Gabriel Byrne.”

Words by Jay Stone

Image from BBC Press Release

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