People are always asking me what I think of all the fictional detectives on TV. I have quite an interest, of course, because my own creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, was played so marvellously for 13 years on TV by George Baker, who died of pneumonia recently.
Most of the crime series I like to watch on TV nowadays are quite old, such as the Inspector Morse thrillers with John Thaw. But I must say I find the spin-off, Lewis, starring Kevin Whately, very disappointing. It’s just not as good as Morse, which inspired it, so I shan’t watch any more of those. Of the modern whodunits and psychological thrillers, from what I gather I’d quite like Danish thriller The Killing if I could get hold of a box set. Kenneth Branagh’s Kurt Wallander? Sorry, but I never watch it.
As for Miss Marple, I think the idea of an old lady solving crimes that the police can’t is ridiculous. I once wrote a short story where this old lady sits in her window snooping and gets it all wrong, pinning the crime on a totally innocent neighbour - and that’s much more likely to happen. Agatha Christie is a menace.
I keep being asked if there will be another series of Wexford. ITV wants more, but I have turned them down, at least for the time being. I think viewers will picture George in the role for a long time to come, even though he had retired several years ago - he had been ill for some time before he died at the age of 80. There will be another series, but everyone will just have to wait. It’s because there was always the danger that viewers would have this expectation of seeing George in the part, that if they saw someone else they would probably be disappointed, and even quite angry. I wouldn’t want that.
When George started playing Wexford he was in his mid 50s, and really too old for the part, but he was such a good actor that he was able to make himself seem a lot younger. When the character became so popular, I regretted not making him 18, rather than 52.
I’ve been quoted in the past as saying that I will ultimately write a story to kill off Wexford, and that the manuscript would be placed in a vault and only published after my death. But I now think that would be a very stupid thing to do, so Wexford will remain very much alive.
I have the experience of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to learn from. Look what happened when he killed off Sherlock Holmes. There was such an outcry he had to bring him back. No, I have retired Wexford, but I haven’t killed him off yet. I think I can work with that.