Grace: why Roy Grace creator Peter James is so delighted with John Simm’s portrayal of his Brighton-based detective.

Other actors had been considered – but for Peter James, John Simm was the perfect fit as Roy Grace as the series hit the TV screens.

The second episode has just been broadcast – and producers will be looking to match the success of the first.

A remarkable 8.7 million people watched the debut episode – figures Roy Grace creator Peter James was absolutely delighted with, confirmation that they had got it right.

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The figures were more than enough to ensure that Grace will return and return again to our screens.

“To be sure of being recommissioned it needed to be above 4 million. I had hoped for maybe 6.5 million, but to get 8.7 million was just fantastic.

“The production company were really happy about it. ITV were really happy about it. The producer is an old friend of mine. They were thrilled to bits. They were saying that you just never know, you can never tell what the chemistry is going to be.”

But the fact is that that chemistry worked brilliantly.

A huge amount of the success came down to John Simm as Peter’s Brighton-based detective Roy Grace.

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“He was like the Roy Grace I had imagined when I first created him, but it is also that he has got a warmth about him. You see homicide detectives portrayed as people that go around shouting, but the really good ones are very calm people who have a very high degree of emotional intelligence and are very caring about people. The really good ones are the ones that have a high degree of empathy with the victims, with their loved ones and family. And John was just perfect. You really felt that with John it became personal. He had that quality of compassion.

“John is just such a nice guy. He thinks about everything. I wasn’t able to be on set because of the restrictions, but there is a scene early on where he goes to meet a blind date in a pub and John emailed me to ask whether I thought he should still wear his wedding ring (Grace’s wife has been missing for years at this point). It was that degree of detail. I said to him that I thought he should take it off as he was going in.”

John too was delighted with the response to the first episode: “He was thrilled to bits. He has actually moved to Brighton. He has bought a house in Brighton. He said he would like nothing more than to do three or four episodes a year for the next however long, plus a play a year. Hopefully he will get his wish!”

And if that happens, then ITV will get their wish. They have stated that they hope Grace’s Brighton will become the equivalent of Morse’s Oxford.

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“And what I find now when I am writing Grace is that I am thinking of John and I am thinking of Richie (Campbell who takes the role of DS Glenn Branson). “

The first film, Dead Simple, opens with Grace running enquiries into long forgotten cold cases with little or no prospect of success. He’s fixated by the disappearance of his beloved wife, Sandy, which haunts his thoughts. His unorthodox police methods have come under scrutiny once again and Grace is walking a career tightrope and risks being moved from the job he loves most.