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Grace star John Simm wants to adapt all of the Roy Grace books for TV

John Simm plays Detective Superintendent Roy Grace in ITV's adaptation of the Peter James book series.

Grace (John Simm) - ITV

John Simm headlines upcoming ITV crime drama Grace, adapted from the bestselling Roy Grace novels by Peter James – and the actor already has his “fingers crossed” that he will be playing the role of DS Grace for years to come.

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The two-part drama (each episode lasting two hours) is adapted from the first two novels, Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead – but there are a total of 17 books in the series.

Speaking over Zoom during a press event, Simm said he was honoured to be offered the lead role: Oh absolutely, it was manna from heaven, really, to get that phone call. It was, yeah – I was absolutely honoured to be asked to play Roy Grace.”

He later continued: “We all hope, all of us, that we get to do more and we get to do all these 17 books, because there’s plenty source material and it’s all really, really high quality so, fingers crossed.”

Author Peter James recently revealed that he now visualises John Simm while writing his famous character – a vote of confidence that Simm called “a real honour”.

“That’s a real honour, if he’s thinking of me,” the actor said. “That’s really odd as well, I’m so into these books and I’m so into this character that I don’t think of me when I’m reading, you know, I’ve got him in my head, it’s incredible.”

However, Simm is still certain that some fans of the novel “will be up in arms” over the televised version, adapted by Endeavour creator Russell Lewis.

It’s a delicate balancing act, because they’re two different things – a novel is not a TV show, and a TV show is not a novel,” Simm explained. “So while we’re trying to be absolutely true to the source material, it’s a TV show, and so fans of the novel, some of them will be up in arms because it won’t be the characters that they had in their head.

“But there’s nothing that we as actors can do about that, we just have to serve the script and what’s in front of us, and I can’t really be worrying whether people that are into the novels will not like it or – I guess you have to take it from the standpoint that nobody knows the novels, and nobody knows what’s gonna happen and it’s a separate entity. But at the same time, being as true as we can be to Peter’s novels. “

John Simm in ITV's Grace
ITV

The crime drama filmed under COVID-safe regulations in Brighton, wrapping production in November of last year, and Simm revealed that he was initially worried about leaving the pandemic out of the show’s storyline.

When I was watching it… I remember talking to Patrick [Schweitzer, a producer] about it, about the COVID thing, and everybody saying, ‘Oh it’ll age it, it’ll put it in a certain time,’ and I thought, ‘Well surely we have to address it’. But I think they were absolutely bang on, I think it’s absolutely right, nobody wants to see anything about COVID.

“It was the most depressingly boring year, and we don’t want to see it on film. And it really ages it and it puts it in a specific year, and that is not what it is about. It was really wonderful to see that [sense of normality], especially the nightclub scenes. It was like from a different planet!”

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Grace will air later this year on ITV. You can buy the whole series of Roy Grace books on Amazon. Take a look at the rest of our Drama coverage, or check out what else is on with our TV guide.