“I didn’t like his moustache”

Two (literal) grande dames of British crime fiction unload on their TV adaptations

Sharing a stage at The Times Cheltenham Festival of Literature, Dame Ruth Rendell and Baroness P.D. James admitted that they did not care for the television adaptations of their books because producers took liberties with their source material. Dame Ruth, 79, said that Baroness James, 89, had not identified with Roy Marsden, the actor who played her Inspector Adam Dalgliesh for 15 years. “You never liked Roy Marsden much, did you?” she said. James responded: “I didn’t like his moustache. You don’t ever see senior detectives with a moustache.” A spokeswoman for Marsden said that he would not comment. Rendell added that she initially “didn’t like George Baker,” who played the role of Rendell’s Inspector Reginald Wexford, “but I got used to him. He didn’t look like Wexford. I said in an early book that he is very ugly and George was not.” Rendell, who has written 21 Wexford books, said that she had no creative control over television adaptations but that they were not important to her. “I think that people expect us to be far more concerned with our television productions than we are. You can say that television makes you famous and sells your books but you don’t care very much about it.” Baroness James said that she had given up trying to make sense of changes made to her stories when they were adapted for television. “I don’t read a script of adaptations because I know I’m not going to like it. They do things sometimes that are nonsensical.” Car chases in particular, Rendell chimed in. “They put one in all of mine. There’s no reason for a car chase but everyone likes one. In the end you don’t care.”

The Times of London

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