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Interview: Reginald Hill, creator of Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe

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It's hard to believe that their first appearance was back in 1970, but that's indeed the year that A Clubbable Woman introduced the world to Reginald Hill's fictional Mid-Yorkshire's odd couple, police officers Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe. Numerous awards for crime fiction, and a television adaptation later, Reginald Hill and his creations are still going strong, much to the delight of anybody who enjoys intelligent, humorous, and challenging writing.

I've been an unabashed fan of their misadventures since reading a copy of that first book (sometime after its initial release date) and have happily devoured each new title. What has kept me, and I assume the millions of others who keep reading Mr. Hill's books, coming back is that you never know what you're going to find between the covers of a Dalziel and Pascoe investigation.

Not only have the plots for each book always been a notch above the usual police procedural, but Mr. Hill has never allowed his characters to descend to the level of predictability. Where other authors have been content to keep presenting the same collection of mannerisms and passing it off as a recurring character, Pascoe, Dalziel, and their colleagues, have continued to fascinate by their refusal to be predictable. Although you can be pretty sure that you'll end up buying if you head off to the pub with "Fat Andy", don't count on being able to anticipate anything else about him.
Reginald Hilla.jpg
So when the opportunity arose to pose some questions to Reginald Hill about his work and his two most famous constables, I leapt at it. As Mr. Hill and I are divided by an ocean of water and a few time zones, it was easiest to e-mail him my questions about his creations and have him e-mail back his answers.  I hope that this interview provides you with answers to some of your own puzzles about the history behind of the characters and the books they feature in. If you have never read anything by Mr. Hill, let alone one of Pascoe and Dalziel's investigations, maybe this will pique your interest sufficiently to give them a go. You really don't know what you've been missing.

With the publication of A Cure For All Diseases (Price Of Butcher's Meat in America) how many Dalziel and Pascoe novels does that make? Obviously when you wrote A Clubbable Woman back in 1970, their first appearance, you could have no idea that they would become as popular as they have, but when did you first have an inkling that you might be spending a good portion of your life writing about them?

There are 21 full-length novels, plus a couple of novellas and some short stories. After the first (A Clubbable Woman), I had neither inkling nor intention that there would be any more. The second (An Advancement of Learning) was a campus mystery that needed a couple of cops to investigate the crime and it occurred to me that like the TV chefs I had one that I’d prepared earlier, so out they came again. But when I found myself wondering what was going to happen to the Peter Pascoe/Ellie relationship, which I’d left dangling at the end of that story, I did begin to get that inkling – a most appropriate word as I was writing everything longhand back in those days.

Where did the idea for Andrew Dalziel come from – and does anybody not from Great Britain ever believe you when you tell them it's pronounced Dee-ell?

In the first book, Andy D was intended as a foil for Peter P – the antediluvian, steam-age, seat-of-the-well-scratched-pants cop against whom the new age, university educated whiz-kid would shine. It didn’t quite work out like that! As for the name’s pronunciation, it has I think become the shibboleth by which the series’ hard-core fans identify each other!

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.
  • Ira Weinberg

    I too like Daziel and Pascoe. Some time ago I found out that the characters have been part of a television series in the UK produced by the BBC Television unit. I would love to see these programs, however I live in “region 1″ and it appears that they are not licensed for viewing/purchase in the USA. What a shame. How can I get them? Or more important why are they restricted from the USA? The fat man would make a joke but I don’t think this situation is funny. Help me Pascoe

  • http://blogs.epicindia.com/leapinthedark Richard Marcus

    Ira

    Check out Acorn Online Media under the USA section. I believe they sell Box sets of the BBC show that you are talking about that you can watch in our region. Or you can try the BBC America web site and A&E’s web site as they both also make Box sets of British televisions shows available for sale that are suitable for our televisions.

    cheers

    Richard

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Right. Dalziel and Pascoe has been shown on PBS in the US, so it’s probably available in Region 1 format somewhere – most likely the places Richard suggests.