McGovern kindly took the time to answer a few
questions on the series for me recently - many thanks to
him for his time and effort.
Which Cracker story are you most proud of?
The very first one: The Mad Woman In The Attic. I thought Michael
Winterbottom directed it superbly. When I first watched it, about
twelve years ago, the story went like a train. But all film and
television drama has quickened since then.
Which did you find the the most difficult to write?
One Day A Lemming Will Fly. I wasnít supposed to write it, you
see. Another writer (a well respected theatre writer) was supposed
to do it. But he handed in an appalling script and so I had to write
it from scratch in something like a week. Iím sick of the huge
respect shown to writers from the theatre. I know from bitter
experience that many of them cannot tell a story.
How much of yourself did you put into Fitz?
That would be telling. LoadsÖ
Do you have your own particular favourite moments/scenes from the
I love the sequence in which the prime suspect in Mad Woman In The
Attic is arrested as soon as he leaves hospital, then abused in the
police car, then slammed in the cell. Though I say it myself, itís
a good demonstration of the importance of sound and camera angle.
also like stammering Seanís rage to Fitz in the police cell in To
Say I Love You.
of course, all the stuff to do with Fitzís motherís death in
Brotherly Love. She was based on my own late mother.
I think Brotherly Love is an under-rated story. I think the
subject matter (prostitution) put people off.
How much input did you have into the stories you didn't write, and
in particular the way the final series ended?
Very little. I had my own problems trying to write the ones I had to
write. I wanted to leave after the second series ended but Sally
Head, executive-producer at the time, wouldnít let Jimmy Beck rape
Penhaligon unless I agreed to come back for the third series.
Thatís why I wrote Brotherly Love. But by the time Iíd finished
it, I was knackered. I wasnít just writing Fitz, you see, I was
living him. And it was taking its toll.
there any particular reason why the original scripts were used as
the basis for the novelisations?
Iím afraid I havenít read the novelisations.
Was Fitz and Panhandle's relationship always meant to be ill-fated?
I wouldnít call it ill fated. Difficult, yes. Up and down, yes.
But not particularly ill fated.
Did you always plan to write the Bilborough death/Beck &
Penhaligon plotline - or was it something that just developed over
the course of the series? And did you have no choice but to kill
After series one Chris Eccleston wouldnít come back for series
two. We didnít want him to simply disappear; we wanted to get some
drama out of it. So I phoned Chris and told him in detail about his
big death scene and he agreed to do it. The trouble is, Chris was
magnificent in that death scene. Everybody remembers it. And, when
Chris did leave, his phone never stopped ringing with job offers.
Lorcan Cranitch decided to get in on the act and he refused to come
back as Jimmy Beck for series three. Again, we didnít want him to
just disappear so I had to phone Lorcan and give him a blow by blow
account of HIS death scene and Lorcan too agreed to come back for
it. When you see major characters die in a drama series itís
almost always down to contractual stuff.
Penhaligon rape strand was different. I was hoping to be asked to
write a Prime Suspect in which Jane Tennison got raped. But then
Cracker happened so I used it in that.
was your opinion of the US version?
saw only the first one. I thought it was okay. But only okay.
Why do you feel the series was such a success?
I honestly believe it was the first post-feminist drama series. And
it happened just as everyone was getting sick of political
correctness. The timing couldnít have been better.
Unofficial Guide To Cracker 1999-2006