We chat with star Holliday Grainger, writer Tom Edge and director Sue Tully about the latest series of JK Rowling’s, we mean Robert Galbraith’s, cracking crime drama...
By Virgin TV Edit
First off, let’s take a nice, long sigh of relief and utter a small prayer of thanks to the TV gods because finally, after two-and-a-half years off since their last outing in 2018’s Career Of Evil, Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott are back in Strike: Lethal White!
Such a gap is particularly surprising when the first three series were all made and released close together. As such, you’d be forgiven for thinking that slipping back into the role of Robin after such a long time away might be a challenge for star Holliday Grainger…
“Possibly,” she says. “But you get such a strong sense of who Robin is from the books. Even just diving into the book before I get the scripts makes you feel like you’ve not been away from her that for that long, which is great.”
The wait for Lethal White has been made all the more agonising after Career Of Evil’s humdinger of an ending, which (warning, massive spoilers lay ahead) of course saw Strike reluctantly sack Robin as his assistant, then promptly just arrive in time to her wedding.
Heart-breaking as it may have been to watch the dynamic duo finally bring an end to their time together and Robin walk down the aisle with Matthew (angrily shakes fist), the ramifications of both events take centre stage in Lethal White, Grainger explains.
“She has just gone and got married to Matthew, even though we're all going – and I think she herself is thinking – “Don’t do it!”, and when we begin this series she learns Strike feels he made a mistake, and wants her to come back, and in turn how she then realises how much that means to her.
“But afterwards there’s this slightly stilted personal relationship, with them just getting on with the professional side of things, and we catch up with them as they kind of start to come closer together again.”
It’s no mean feat for screenwriter Tom Edge to pack the captivating (and complicated) Strike stories into the relatively short, snappy format TV, with countless scenes and moments from the books unfortunately, at times, having to be discarded.
“Career Of Evil was a really substantial book and we covered that in two hours, so a lot of stuff had to be cut there,” he says. “But the wonderful thing about Lethal White was that the BBC were really generous and said, “Tell us how many parts you think it ought to be”, so we were able to look at the material and lay out a scheme that felt right for the book and right for the show.”
Directing a new entry in a long-running and established series such as Strike can also prove problematic for the director. But when it came to piecing together the four, hour-long parts that make up Lethal White, director Sue Tully saw an opportunity to put her own spin on things.
“Well, each book lends itself to giving you an opportunity as a director to do your own thing,” she says. “A look had been established in terms of how beautifully it covers London – Soho in particular – and there’s lots of things about doing an adaptation like this that you want to keep. But Lethal White goes into various worlds and various kind of landscapes, so I had an opportunity to spread my wings a little bit.”
Flicking from Strike’s typically gloomy office (covered in more lamps than a moth’s utopia) to an anarchist headquarters and into parliament itself, Lethal White most certainly delivers in offering up countless locations and worlds for Strike and Robin to infiltrate – something Grainger imagines fans will very much enjoy watching play out on screen come Sunday evening…
“I love that each book dives into a completely different world. And this one dives into two completely different worlds that are entirely separate from one other. So I always find it interesting to see how Strike and Robin are going to navigate that.
“Oh, and to be honest, I think they – like me – just want to know if Strike and Robin get together!”
While the possibility of that happening remains very much up for debate, if there’s one thing we can be sure of ahead of Lethal White hitting screens this Bank Holiday Sunday, it’s that we’re very, very glad that they’re back.
When is Strike: Lethal White on TV?
You can watch the first episode on Sunday 30 August at 9pm on BBC One HD (CH 101/108). Episodes will be shown weekly, with the last airing on Sunday 20 September at 9pm.
It is also available for 30 days in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer.
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
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Image credits: Strike: Lethal White © Bronte Films – Photographer: Steffan Hill