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Monday, July 26, 2004

So Long

The BBC adaptation of The Long Firm draws to a halt on Wednesday. (Or as we say in the version of the Blog aimed at cable/satellite viewers with BBC4, ‘The BBC adaptation of The Long Firm drew to a halt last Wednesday’.) Sure enough the final episode served up a nice snapshot of 1970-1979, with a decent spoof of academia on the side. The compromises that resulted in Jack 'The Hat' McVitie being reworked as ‘Jimmy’ in the series, and an endnoted legal disclaimer regarding true life and fictional Detective Mooneys, should not distract from the excellence of this adaptation and its fidelity to Jake Arnott’s source novel.
Whether or not Arnott is the only British author to get close to the criminal mind is debatable; the point for me is that, along with David Peace, he has shown how working as a genre writer can be combined with writing excellent historical fiction. It’s recent history that they work on too: while politicians like to blame the 1960s for current problems, Arnott can give those of us who were hardly there a sense of what went on. More informed than the stereotypes of a disordered ‘me’ generation which cropping up in discussions of social policy, Arnott is also something of a public intellectual. Recently I saw him giving a thoughtful introduction to a recent Lady from Shanghai screening and before that keeping James Ellroy on a tight leash at a public reading. Hats off to Jake Arnott.
· The final episode of The Long Firm is on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC2
* The novel The Long Firm can be purchased by clicking here.


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