Roy Grace author Peter James delighted with TV adaptations

The first two episodes in the highly-anticipated new ITV crime drama series Grace could be screened “early spring, early summer”.

John Simm
John Simm

Filming took place last autumn, with John Simm starring as Brighton detective Roy Grace, the creation of Sussex-based writer Peter James across a series of massively successful thrillers.

Peter has now seen the first two episodes – and couldn’t be more thrilled with the results: “I now think of John Simm when I am writing,” says Peter whose 17th Roy Grace novel Left You Dead comes out in hardback on May 13.

“And that is no hardship. John Simm is great. He is a fantastic Roy Grace. He is very human and has got a kind of warmth about him and a quiet dignity, and he looks very similar to how I originally imagined Roy Grace looking.

“In the past I have had three books adapted and each one I hated more than the last one, but I have seen the two Roy Graces adapted so far and they are just fabulous.

“They have not announced yet when they are airing, but I think it will be some time early spring, early summer, and they have really got it right. They have been wonderfully communicative with me, and they have been better people to work with than I could ever have imagined. My real-life Roy Grace (former police officer) Dave Gaylor has been engaged as a consultant. He has not been able to be on set as much as he would have liked because of Covid restrictions, but they really listened to him. It has been great.”

Peter doesn’t believe the Covid restrictions which applied on set will be too obvious in the finished product: “I think they pretty much disappear. They have done an amazing job. It has pushed the budget up a bit, but they really did a sensational job. They did it in bubbles and would stick to it every day.”

The great news now is that the company has commissioned scripts for the next episodes – and Peter understands filming will be in July/August this year.

The series comes from screenwriter and Endeavour creator Russell Lewis.

Co-produced by Second Act Productions, Tall Story Pictures, part of ITV Studios and Vaudeville Productions, the first two 120-minute episodes tell the first two stories in the Roy Grace series, Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead.

Joining John Simm are Richie Campbell (Liar, Blue Story, Top Boy) who takes the role of DS Glenn Branson and Rakie Ayola (Noughts + Crosses, Shetland, No Offence) as ACC Vosper. Laura Elphinstone (Game of Thrones, Chernobyl, Line of Duty) is DS Bella Moy, Amaka Okafor (The Split, Vera) plays DC Emma Jane Boutwood, and Brad Morrison (National Theatre Live; Twelfth Night) takes the role of DC Nicholl.

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.

With so much at stake, his colleague Detective Sergeant Glenn Branson knows he has more to give and asks him for help with a case.

When a stag night prank appears to go wrong and the groom goes missing, Branson calls upon Grace to unravel events that led to the mysterious disappearance three days before his wedding to his beautiful fiancée.

A successful property developer with everything to live for, there is no trace of the missing groom. Is this a case of stag night shenanigans gone badly awry? Or is this something more sinister?

With nothing but instinct, a lingering suspicion and his obsessive nature, Grace doggedly pursues the groom’s disappearance and becomes uneasily close to the bride to be…

Writer Russell Lewis is also known for his work on Morse, Lewis, Murphy’s Law, Sharpe’s Peril and Kavanagh QC.

Russell Lewis said: “I’m thrilled and honoured to be involved in bringing Peter James’ brilliantly gripping series of Roy Grace novels to ITV. Each story is a fantastic, hair-raising, twisting, switch-back of a roller-coaster ride that grips the reader from first to last, and the opportunity to translate that best-selling magic to television is like all one’s Christmases and birthdays come at once.

“As his millions of fans and admirers are well aware, Peter’s meticulous research and eye for detail is the stuff of legend. His long established, close relationship with the police, taken together with a knowledge of Brighton and the south coast that is the sole preserve of the born and bred lends his stories an unimpeachable veracity of place and procedure. That John Simm will be breathing flesh to the bones of Roy Grace really is the cherry on a dark and troublingly encrimsoned cake…”

ITV’s head of drama, Polly Hill, and drama commissioner, Huw Kennair Jones have commissioned Grace for the channel. Huw will oversee production of the drama from the channel’s perspective.