Christmas Blog

Happy, happy, happy, happy…
Christmas is coming; I’ll soon be feeling fat. Who’d have thought 2016 would have turned out – puts on Tommy Cooper fez -  just like that. Yes, another Christmas is upon us and this most unsettling year is fast coming to a close. Thoughts on past and future are best left to New Year blogs, I feel, so as our wallets empty and our spirits rise, may I wish you all a very happy festive season. I would also like to thank all those – and I am overwhelmed by how many there have been – who have kindly read and been so positive about The Rock and The Poisoned Rock novels. Tamara Sullivan and Gus Broderick seem to have excited and entertained many readers over the past year, and their Gibraltar murder investigations continue next year with the publication of The Killing Rock. If you are not already a subscriber to the series, please check out my author website and pick up a free Sullivan and Broderick ghost story set on Gibraltar. Christmas is a time for ghost stories, and hopefully, Tunnel Vision will send a tingle down your spine. There’s also a chance to win a brand new Kindle Fire tablet to enhance your reading pleasures through 2017.

Other breaking news is the announcement of a new, stand-alone, thriller. Progeny will tell the story of a major serial killer investigation.  Chief Inspector Izi Afolabi and D.S Leyland Flynn of the London Metropolitan Police Service, lead an increasingly desperate investigation into a series of murders being carried out in different countries by a deranged and ruthless killer.  The murderer always uses the same distinctive modus operandi, but nothing else seems to add up, as the two detectives fight to stop a killing spree that appears to have no rhyme or reasons.  
Progeny will be published early summer 2017.
On the recent acting front, I had a very pleasant November working on Midsomer Murders. Can’t believe it’s nearly ten years since I paid my last visit to the murder capital of Britain. Neil Dudgeon leads the show now and, like John Nettles before him, makes a splendid job of things.
I am now getting ready to film An Unkind Word, in which I play the least sexy MP in Parliament. Shouldn’t be much of a challenge after my Christmas indulgencies are completed.
To finish, here's one of my favourite Christmas stories. A Leeds primary school was staging its Christmas Nativity play. The cast of ten-year-old students had rehearsed the modern dress production for weeks, and the first, and only performance was underway before a packed school hall of semi-anxious parents. After the birth of Jesus in a barn, the later scenes of the play unusually portrayed Mary and Joseph bringing up the young Jesus. The teachers had also encouraged their pupils to improvise text if they felt so inclined. As the curtains parted for the last scene of the play, the audience were greeted by the sight of Mary, at home, doing some ironing. Enter Joseph after a busy day at work. He drops his tool bag by the door, takes off his coat and turns to his wife…
JOSEPH:  So Mary, how’s our Jesus been then?
Mary puts down her iron, wipes her brow and replies…
MARY:   Don’t talk to me about Jesus. He’s been a right little bugger all day!
Happy Christmas everyone and as the late, great Dave Allen used to say…may your God go with you.


The Rock, Poisoned Rock and Murder Mystery Plays

Am currently touring with the newly formed Classic Thriller Company. Rehearsal for Murder is a play set in London's West End and is a piece written by the creators of Columbo and Murder She Wrote. Although a critically unfashionable genre, the stage thriller seems to be hugely popular with audiences around the country. Happily we are playing to terrific houses and the response is greatly encouraging for the company and all involved in it. 

With my second Sullivan and Broderick murder mystery - The Poisoned Rock - about to be published on Kindle and a third being edited, I'm pretty much overwhelmed with clues, plot twists and cunning psychopaths to hunt down. My first crime novella - The Rock - is also being developed for television and moving at quite a swift pace. I'm very much enjoying the collaboration and plethora of exciting ideas the process is generating. Hopefully, Sullivan and Broderick of the Royal Gibraltar Police Force will have both a screen and page life to look forward to. The result of all this is that I am slowly being dragged into the modern age with both a Twitter and Facebook Author's Page. For an old fashioned boy, it's all a bit 'Beam me up Scotty'






Father Brown and Guadeloupe

At the start of the summer holidays, family Daws had no idea what to do or where to go. Within three days Amy, myself and the three children - Children? Ben's fifteen! - were all in the Cotswolds, crammed into a delightful hotel while I filmed Father Brown with the lovely Mark Williams. Three weeks later we were all on a plane from Paris to Guadeloupe, once again bound for mystery and murder in Death In Paradise. Two delightful jobs which reunited me with Wendy Craig and old chum, Keith Allen. More to the point, we all had a fantastic summer hols - albeit a busman's holiday for yours truly. 

Back in the UK, Eugene McGinn's terrifying film 'The Unfolding' premiered in Leicester Square as part of Film 4's FrightFest. An exciting event, but also one that was deeply saddening. Our dear friend Kitty McGeever - who gives a superb performance in the movie - had recently died. She was one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met and had been a very close friend to Amy for 25 years. Her humour, intelligence, compassion and talent are hugely missed by all who loved her.



Cometh the moment...

I am not and never have been a political animal. British politics has always baffled me a little. For some reason - baffling in itself - I have always found US politics easier to follow and of more interest. The West Wing has a lot to answer for. However, this election pending is proving to be a bit of a corker. A friend of mine, currently reporting for the BBC in Scotland, has tweeted me to say that the political debate across the border is of a 'very high standard.' Coming so soon after the dramatic and heated Scottish Referendum, this should come as no surprise. There is a huge appetite for politics in Scotland - for obvious reasons - that the rest of the UK finds hard to emulate. Labour is fighting to survive beyond Hadrian's Wall and the Tories in Scotland are, as usual, on a hiding to nothing. Did I mention the Lib Dems? No real point. The most likely outcome, I am told, will be a Labour/SNP coalition. This possibility, hotly denied by Ed Milliband and offered as a 'given' by Nicola Sturgeon, is a real game changer. - Update - last nights five-way leader's debate firmly underlined this. - All very exciting, not least because of the massive implications this would bring to government at Westminster. It is clear that we may be on the verge of a new and Borgen-like political landscape that previous generations could not have imagined possible.

However, one thing has remained the same over recent years and it is a problem that has only added to the apathy felt by many British voters - where are the country's statesmen and stateswomen? Our political leaders continue to seem lacklustre and passionless. I don't mean the bluster and stutter of political debate as witnessed on tv. I mean the kind of strong, charismatic and intelligent leadership that makes you sit up and listen.- Ed's new relaxed podium manner is a slight improvement - I'm not talking Thatcher - far from it - but there has to be a better presentation of issues and a more articulate guide to possible answers than is offered by the party bound and image conscious politicians of the present day. Rehearsed and imposed style over content has reigned for too long. The party debates thus far have thrown up only one leader who has shown anything like these qualities. Nicola Sturgeon, admittedly free of the fear of massive losses and with much to gain, has been the only politician so far to make me listen. I, of course, can't vote for her. However, were she the leader of the political party I happen have the most sympathy for and set about promoting its policies with the same passion, I would very likely vote for Sturgeon. I know the SNP sums still don't convincingly add up and many commentators are still to be convinced about the SNP's policies as regards the longer term, but Sturgeon seems statesman-like in a way that other party leaders do not. I wish my party had a Sturgeon. Cometh the moment...cometh the woman.


Doc Poldark

Poldark has sprung into Spring and it seems to be a hit. Well Aidan Turner has certainly hit the spot with many a female viewer and at least two chaps I've spoken to. It's not just his extraordinary good looks that have led to this response, it is his performance as well. Having spent quite a lot of time with him last summer, I can tell you he certainly put in the work. Being top dog on a long shoot means that you are hardly ever off camera. It takes a huge amount of mental concentration and physical fitness to survive the seemingly unending schedule of dawn starts and night wraps. To deliver a performance of substance on top of all that, is quite an achievement. Aidan excelled in all those areas, whilst proving a charming, generous and thoroughly entertaining colleague to boot - 18th Century boot, of course. He deserves all the praise he has received so far and the accolades that will surely follow. 

In between swooning over Ross Poldark, a few close relatives of mine noticed a bewigged, grumpy codger that looked a bit like me. They were correct. Dr Thomas Choake - the local curmudgeon, barbaric medical practitioner and wealthy investor - was certainly fun to play. Several people on social media have already nicknamed him 'Doc Poldark', which I hope is a compliment. Debbie Horsfield's terrific adaptation brought to life the world of Winston Graham and its myriad characters with great skill,detail and humour, and I was very happy to be in the mix. As my old mate, the dearly missed Warren Clarke, pointed out on set one day, 'Isn't it nice. We've got two Aarh's, a joint grimace and an Hurrumph this morning and then it's lunch.' Happy days under blue Cornish skies.