Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mma Ramotse comes to life

From L to R: Anika Noni Rose as Mma Makutsi, Jill Scott as Mma Ramotswe, Lucian Msamati as JLB Matekoni.

Apart from scrumptious chocolate eggs, there's another treat to look forward to this Easter: a 90-minute drama based on Alexander McCall-Smith's book The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which is set to be screened on BBC One around Easter (possibly on Easter Monday, although as far as I can work out the exact date hasn't been formally announced).

The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is the first in a series of 9 books that chronicle the adventures of "traditionally built" Precious Ramotswe, the proprietor of the only female-owned detective agency in Botswana, and her assistant Grace Makutsi. They're not detective stories in the traditional sense of the word, as there are no murders and no serious assaults to deal with. Instead, the storylines evolve around human relationships and problems that can be solved over endless cups of red bush tea. They're the perfect "feel-good" read and have become very successful in the UK and (I believe) elsewhere in the world.

This first episode that's about to be screened was filmed entirely in Botswana. It was directed by Anthony Minghella, who won an Oscar for directing The English Patient, and was also nominated for writing the screenplay for The Talented Mr Ripley. Mma Ramotswe is played by double Grammy winning jazz and blues singer Jill Scott, and the screenplay has been co-written by Minghella and Richard Curtis, best known for Four Weddings and Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary. Joining Jill Scott on the series will be Dreamgirls star Anika Noni Rose in the role of Mma Makutsi. David Oyelowo (Danny from Spooks) also makes an appearance in the first episode, as philandering husband Kremlin Busang.

Many hate the idea of a favourite book being turned into a movie. I'm the exact opposite. I can't imagine anything better than the characters who have lived in the pages of a book coming to life on the big or smaller screen, particularly when care has been taken to remain true to the story's essense. With such a stardusted cast, I think we can expect a worthwhile result.

The author of the series Alexander McCall-Smith with Jill Scott as Mma Ramotswe.

What's more, following the screening of the pilot episode at Easter, filming will begin for a 13-part television series jointly funded by the BBC and US television network HBO. Even more Mma Ramotse!

This month's Condé Nast Traveller magazine features an article by Anthony Minghella written while location scouting in Botswana. The pictures that accompany the article are exactly as you'd imagine Botswana to be from "listening" to Mma Ramotswe - simply stunning.

If you've not read the books yet, I can't recommend them highly enough. Eight of them are out in paperback and the latest one has just come out in hardback, so there's plenty to keep you busy. The order they come in is this:

The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Tears of the Giraffe
Morality for Beautiful Girls
The Kalahari Typing School for Men
The Full Cupboard of Life
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
Blue Shoes and Happiness
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
The Miracle at Speedy Motors

I can't wait for Easter :-)


Maryam in Marrakesh said...

ooh, I can't wait to see that! I loved that book. I read it when we lived in Namibia.

Karen said...

Tinsie! I just went to the library today and came home with five books to read (in addition to the three that are already on the bedside table). I will most definitely put these on the "to read" list, though.

Pamsie said...

I read about this today and got all excited. I can't wait to watch this! All we need now is a Stephanie Plum series and TV will be absolutely perfect!

Tinsie said...

@ Maryam: Would you say it's pretty true to life in southern Africa?

@ Karen: They're worth it for sure! They're so entertaining and easy to get into, not the kind of book you need to "persevere" with - which is less than I can say about the book I'm reading at the moment.

@ Pamsie: Ι was thinking the same about Stephanie Plum! I'm surprised a movie's not been made yet.

Then again, Galactica's starting again in a few weeks' time, so that's something to look forward to :-)

Indie said...

Oh, can you please tape it for me???I love the first two but I haven't had the chance to read the rest. But I will now:-) I'll have to agree with you and Pamsie on the Stephanie Plum series.They'd be fantastic and incredibly hilarious to watch. Who would you cast in the role of Stephanie? It would have to be an actress that is totally Burg material:-)Maybe Amanda Peet or an America Ferrera type.

Daniel B. said...

I think you lost me somewhere during the reading of this post?! Eggs... the director of the "Talented Mr. Ripley"... say what?

Tinsie said...

@ Indie: Certainly will, if I can work out how to use the new video recorder!

Ooooh Stephanie Plum - I think we need a new post about that. Amanda Peet would be good, although I've always imagined Stephanie with lighter hair. But if she can be a brunette, why not Sandra Bullock?

Anyway, the important question is, who would play Ranger? Phwoaaaaar!

@ Daniel: Hey, that's two different posts - no wonder you're confused ;-)

Betty C. said...

I've read a few of the books - they are great fun. I just wish I could stop falling asleep when I read...

Tinsie said...

I'm the same these days. Too tired to read. Admitedly reading a boring book doesn't help, but still, I should be able to manage a couple of pages before nodding off...