Anthony Horowitz’s name is as well-known as any TV writer’s name can be – in the UK where he has written and produced some of the best written and most popular police procedurals in the history of British TV. We’re talking about Foyle’s War, Collision, Midsomer Murders, and many more. The article below gives us a chance to go beyond the usual puffery and actually learn a bit about the mindset it takes to succeed as a major TV force in any country:
by Tim Masters
As its title suggests, New Blood endeavours to offer a fresh journey along the well-trodden path of TV crime drama.
But even an experienced writer like Anthony Horowitz admits it wasn’t easy making fraud a sexy subject for the small screen.
“Fraud is very difficult to dramatise,” he says after a private screening of the first episode.
“People are not going to sit there and listen to figures and share movements.”
As part of his research, Horowitz made several visits to the Serious Fraud Office, and an SFO adviser was attached to the production.
“The SFO is brand new to TV, so what the world will understand on how they work comes from me,” says Horowitz.
“I had a duty to be true to the sort of people they are, but at the same time I couldn’t make them boring or show investigations that last two or three years – they have to be solved in three weeks.
“It’s an interesting balance between reality and fiction. I hope I’ve been responsible.”
The seven-part series, set in contemporary London, stars Mark Strepan as Stefan Kowolski, a junior investigator for the Serious Fraud Office, and Ben Tavassoli as young PC Arrash “Rash” Sayyad.
They find themselves investigating seemingly unrelated cases connected to a dodgy pharmaceutical trial in India six years earlier.
The cast includes Mark Addy, as an old-school detective, and Anna Chancellor as Stefan’s boss.
But Horowitz’s focus is very much on what he calls his “Generation Y” characters – those born in the 1980s and early 90s – and the challenges they face living in the capital.
“The kids who read Alex Rider [Horowitz’s best-selling series of teenage spy novels] were aged eight, nine and 10 and now they are Generation Y,” he says.
“Stefan and Rash are Alex Rider grown up, in a way.”
As with Peter Kay’s Car Share, viewers will be able to watch New Blood on the BBC iPlayer next week, ahead of transmission on BBC One.
Horowitz acknowledges that it’s a good way to launch a show about a younger generation, but he’s keen not to exclude other viewers.
“I didn’t write this TV just for 20- and 30-year-olds,” he says.
“I’m 60, and I binge watch TV.
“It’s the way things are going.
“It is also true, and the BBC are aware of it, that we have to nurture a new TV audience.
“We can’t just write drama for mums and dads and grandparents.
“I was always told with Foyle’s War that it was ‘everybody’s mother’s favourite programme’.
“It used to occur to me why couldn’t it be their favourite programme too?”
Horowitz’s other TV writing credits include Poirot, Murder in Mind, Injustice, Robin of Sherwood and Crime Traveller.
As an author, he resurrected Sherlock Holmes in his 2011 novel The House of Silk and its 2014 sequel Moriarty.
Last year saw the publication of his James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, and the premiere of his satirical play Dinner with Saddam.
While he adapted his own Alex Rider novel Stormbreaker into a 2006 movie, most of his screenwriting is for the small screen….