Anthony Horowitz is surely one of the most prolific modern writers. His output includes TV shows – including the award-winning Foyle’s War, which he created – and books, including the Alex Rider spy novels for young adults, which are estimated to have sold about 20 million copies.
He was even commissioned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write two new Sherlock Holmes novels – The House of Silk, published in 2011, and 2014’s Moriarty – and more recently by Ian Fleming’s estate to write the last year’s James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis.
If all this was not enough, this month Horowitz returns to TV – quite literally, as he continues his habit of appearing in cameo roles in his work – with the launch of his police procedural drama New Blood on OSN Play this week.
It follows two young crime-fighters – Arrash Sayyad (Ben Tavassoli), a uniformed police constable, and Stefan Kowolski (Mark Strepan), a junior investigator with the Serious Fraud Office – as they hunt criminals in London.
There are traditional crime-drama elements to the show – our heroes are thrown together by chance as they realise they are working on different aspects of the same case, and they initially mistrust but grow to respect and like each other, for example.
True to the show’s title, however, New Blood also aims to cover fresh ground beyond the well-trodden path of procedural police dramas. “There’s no shortage of crime-investigation shows out there,” says Horowitz. “But recently there have been some really interesting takes on the genre – look at some of the Scandinavian shows, such as The Bridge, that have done really well globally. I didn’t want to follow that route either – it’s hard enough to make the Serious Fraud Squad entertaining without taking a bleak, Scandinavian-drama approach – but I felt there was still room for another take on the genre that would be both refreshing and entertaining.
To this end, Horowitz’s heroes are both second-generation immigrants – of Polish and Iranian descent respectively – and the show focuses as much on the concerns and struggles of millennial Londoners, as it does on solving crime. The spiralling housing market, unstable working conditions, and low pay are featured as often as murder or extortion.
In one episode, for example, Kowolski considers the concerns of a group of low-paid Polish immigrant workers as a distraction from sleuthing.
Even the slightly incongruous sight of the pair cycling around London to get to meetings with criminal masterminds or blow huge fraud cases wide open seems to be a comment on soaring costs of transport costs in the city, and the economic challenges facing the average Londoner.
It’s a long way from the swagger and bluster of the traditional cop shows of yesteryear.
Horowitz agrees with those who say we are enjoying a golden age of television, in part thanks to the rise of streaming services such as Netflix.
No surprise then that episodes of New Blood were made available for binge watching in the United Kingdom on the BBC’s iPlayer a week ahead of its debut on broadcast TV.
“The whole TV landscape has changed,” says Horowitz. “It used to be the case that the cinema was where you went for ‘art’ on screen, but the whole idea of binge-watching – of basically making a 14-hour film – has really changed that. The last couple of years has seen some of the greatest TV shows I can remember: Breaking Bad, Mr Robot – I just finished watching [Netflix’s supernatural drama] Stranger Things and that was incredible, quite unlike anything that’s been done on TV before. It’s a great time to be writing for TV.”
Binge-watching is not a passing fad, he says, nor is it any longer solely the province of young viewers. “It’s not just kids that are doing this,” he says. “I’m 61 now and I love to binge-watch whole shows. The whole TV environment has changed, and it’s changed for the better.
“I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the days of waiting in on a Tuesday night for your favourite shows every week. Writers and broadcasters will have to adapt to that, or be left behind.”
• The seven-episode first season of New Blood will be available to stream on OSN Play from Thursday, September 15, and will be broadcast on BBC First, exclusive to OSN, in November
Source: art & life