I have just finished re-reading Peter Robinson’s Friend of the Devil after having seen the recent ITV adaptation. It confirmed my suspicion that the the screenwriter and casting director were playing fast and loose with the source material.
As well as plot differences (and I do understand that squeezing a novel into the shorter span of a couple of television episodes requires a certain amount of adjustment), little attention seems to have been paid across the series to the depths of the characters. Friend of the Devil ends with a profile of DCI Banks, including the following physical description:
“Lean and wiry with short, cropped black hair greying a little at the temples; dark blue eyes; scar beside his right eye. At just over five foot eight, he is a little short for a policeman. He’s not especially handsome, but women find him attractive. A casual dresser, he hates wearing a tie, and if he has to wear one, he will knot it loosely and leave his top shirt button undone.”
Stephen Tomkinson, who plays the character on TV, is tall, solid and has grey extending far past his temples, as well as appearing regularly in a dapper tie. He isn’t bad at all as a TV detective but even the most short-sighted victim would not pick him out as Banks in an identity parade. It is a decent show but I wish they hadn’t chosen to nail the colours of one of my favourite fictional detectives to the mast.