Resnick on Radio, Stage & TV

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David Fleeshman as Charlie Resnick & Simone Saunders as Catherine Njoroge in the Nottingham Playhouse/New Perspectives production of “Darkness, Darkness”

DARKNESS, DARKNESS
Act 2, Scene 15

CREMATORIUM. FADE DOWN ORGAN MUSIC AS RESNICK WALKS AWAY FROM THE CHAPEL INTO THE GARDEN, CATHERINE, PATCH OVER ONE EYE, COMING TO JOIN HIM.

CATHERINE: God, Charlie! I hate funerals. Hate them more and more.

RESNICK: You’ll come to mine, all the same?

CATHERINE: You, Charlie? You’ll be here forever.

RESNICK: I doubt that.

THEY WALK ON.

I don’t know about forever, but the old boy does keeping popping up, this week especially.

First there was the realisation [they never let you know in advance!] that my three-part dramatisation for radio of the third Resnick novel, Cutting Edge, was being repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

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Originally broadcast on Radio 4 in 1996, Cutting Edge features Tom Georgeson as Resnick. Tom Wilkinson had played him on radio the preceding year, in my adaptation of Wasted Years, which, like Cutting Edge and, in fact, all of the radio Resnicks, was produced and directed by  David Hunter. In doing so, Wilkinson, of course, was reprising the role he’d earlier played on television, in the versions of the first two novels in the series, Lonely Hearts and Rough Treatment, both produced by Colin Rogers for Deco Films & Television and the BBC.

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Come the time to record Cutting Edge, he was otherwise engaged, so Georgeson, who had appeared on the other side of the law as a burglar in Rough Treatment, stepped into the Inspector’s shoes, bringing the residue of a Scouse lilt with him as he did so.

Resnick’s most recent incarnation, in the stage version of Darkness, Darkness directed by Jack McNamara for Nottingham Playhouse and New Perspectives, saw him being tellingly brought to life by David Fleeshman.

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David Fleeshman getting in some Resnick Research in Nottingham

Now, Claudia Ferlisi of New Perspectives has assembled an absorbing “storify”, in which the history of the production is traced through a selection of photographs, video, blog extracts, tweets and so on. You can – and should – look at it here …

Delving further back, Colin Rogers  alerted me to a review on the Letterboxd site of the 1992 television adaptation of Lonely Hearts, starring, as has been said, Tom Wilkinson, and directed by Bruce MacDonald. Quite why the review, by Mark C., has appeared now, when no official DVD of the programme is available, I’m not sure. A DVD was advertised as forthcoming on Amazon.com some time ago, but since then there has been no news as to when – indeed, if – it might actually become available. What’s holding things up, I have no idea. Nor do I know which copy Mark is reviewing … but what he has to say, is, I thought, really interesting. Here’s a sample …

It helps of course that the author himself, John Harvey, adapted the novels for TV. But crucially the director of Lonely Hearts, Bruce MacDonald, understands the material beautifully and gives us something unique that still stands out as a distinctive piece of drama some twenty-four years later. Crucially MacDonald’s style, combined with his knowledge and understanding of Harvey occasionally somewhat fragmentary writing style, works in close harmony to deliver an deeply atmospheric piece. Like the jazz beloved of our central character, Harvey’s writing often strays from the narrative through line to provide quirky and unusual flourishes or glimpses of other themes. This is best exemplified in the way that we see the team at Nottingham CID (which includes a youngish David Neilsen before he headed to the cobbles of Coronation Street, looking rather different with short hair and a military moustache, and actor/writer William Ivory as a scene-stealing leery, neanderthal cop who despite his blunt methods gets the job done in a way we cannot help but admire) involve themselves in other secondary cases or how we catch references to their home lives. All of these instances help lend a sense of multi-dimensionality and authenticity to the proceedings.

You can read the review in its entirety here …

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4 thoughts on “Resnick on Radio, Stage & TV

  1. Mr. Harvey,

    We in the U.S. have somewhat uneven opportunities to view and enjoy older, classic British police procedurals, but I’ve seen the “original” Taggart streaming on Acorn TV and The Sweeney on DVD from the public library, so it’s unfortunate that your earlier works on radio and television seem not to be available to us. It is also unfortunate that the so-called “BBC” cable televion channel shows few, if any, new or veteran police series (I suppose that the US Public Broadcasting System is a higher-paying customer for those series shown by its affilates like Boston’s WETA) like George Gently and Vera.

    I’m a great fan of two exceptional character lead actors, Martin Shaw and Tom Wilkinson, and I hope that the Resnick television series with the latter actor has been preserved and will someday be made available in this country.

    Jim Mohundro

  2. Being something of an insomniac I’d just like to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Radio 4 Extra recording of “Cutting Edge” over the past three nights.
    As to the Resnick television series I well remember watching these when they were originally transmitted and have often searched for any signs of a DVD release. Maybe it’s been one of those tedious copyright issues that so often crop up with regard to older programmes that have prevented Resnick being made available to a wider audience. We can but live in hope.

    Micheal Elkington

  3. Jim : Good to hear from you; thanks for taking the trouble to get in touch. I think the picture is uneven more or less everywhere. Like you, I’d be happy to see the Wilkinson/Resnicks properly released, but am doubtful, sadly, if it will happen.

  4. Michael, hi … I’m not at all sure what the issue is, but so far neither the producer nor I have been able to get any kind of reason from the BBC for the programmes not being made available. I’m pleased you enjoyed listening to Cutting Edge, however. I’m working now with the same producer, David Hunter, on a series based on the Inspector Chen novels set in Shanghai in the 1980s. We’re back in the studio in a couple of weeks’ time, for broadcasting early in 2017.

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