Interview with Frith Tiplady, Executive Producer for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

Interview with Frith Tiplady, Executive Producer for A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

PHOTO: Andie Bell (India Lille Davies). (Image: BBC/Moonage Pictures)

June 21, 2024 – Interview with Frith Tiplady, Executive Producer (Moonage Pictures) on A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

The book, by Holly Jackson is a hit, with a massive global fanbase. What is it about the book that made it prefect for a television adaptation?

We all read the manuscript of Holly’s novel, and all felt as it was one of the most tightly plotted novels we’d ever read, on a par with Agatha Christie, and felt that in its protagonist, Pip Fitz-Amobi, it presented a really fresh way into a crime story. It was the combination of an incredibly intricate and propulsive crime narrative, with brilliant twists and turns, which would work extremely well as hooks to keep an audience at the edge of their seats. Coupled with this younger way into crime, it made us think that there would definitely be an appetite, but also a fresh way to do a crime show for television.

How was the adaptation process?

Some of the twists and turns needed to be made more concrete for an audience to follow without the narrator’s voice, which is a device used in the book. It was also important to find ways of making the story work over multiple episodes, which required finding the best place for the hooks that would take you from one episode to the other. In addition to that we also needed to make sure there was enough emotional weight for the characters’ stories to work alongside the twists and turns of the plot.

What can the audience look forward to in terms of production values?

We were keen to shoot the show on location and to shoot it in the summer. We tried to find a version of Little Kilton which reflects the atmosphere in the book and the screenplay. What was important to us was a town that is not too small and not too big, the right size for the correct amount of suspects. We were also very keen to have a sense of the woods that surround the town, thematically that was really important. In terms of the visual style, we felt with such an intricate story, we didn’t want to throw too much more at the story. Dolly and Tom approached it in a way that there’s so much information in the plots with the twists and turns, that more of a classical approach to filmmaking was favoured.

Can you tell us about casting Pip and Ravi and what they bring to their roles?

We cast the net far and wide. The casting director suggested Emma, who we’d all seen in Wednesday, and as soon as her name was mentioned to Holly she felt that she would be perfect. Emma’s incredibly strong in the role, she brings an emotional intensity, a quirkiness, and an innate likability. She’s very, very funny and incredibly watchable. In terms of Ravi, we met lots and lots of actors, and as soon as we saw Zain’s audition, there was just something about him. We had a chemistry test between Emma and Zain, and as soon as we saw that we realised we’d found Pip and Ravi. It was very clear for everyone to see as soon as we saw them together, because there was an instant rapport.

How did you go about casting the wider cast?

We wanted to create a gang of friends around Pip, who really had a warmth and energy about them that made them feel like genuine friends. It wasn’t just about casting individuals, it was casting a group. We could see from very early on that they all have a great energy, but there’s also really good separation between them. They all feel very different. With the older actors, we wanted to create a strong, warm and caring family around Pip. Anna and Gary bring terrific experience to support the newer actors.

With the rest of the grown-up cast, the additional challenge on A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder that you don’t have on other shows, is that everyone’s a suspect. Therefore whoever we cast, we were always thinking that, that person needs to have potentially been the shadowy figure in the woods. It was certainly something ringing in our ears as we were embarking on that casting process. Ultimately it was just who are the best actors for the role. We are incredibly pleased with the performances across the board.

How will this series resonate next to an audience of all ages across the world?

The combination of Holly’s incredible plotting and the brilliant characters of the book that Poppy has brought to life, should deliver a show which works for young and old. The themes of Pip’s journey in that realising the world is not black and white, and that everything is shades of grey is something which we can all connect with, because if only life was as simple as we imagine it might be, when we were young.

What are you particularly excited for the audience to enjoy?

I’m excited to know what fans of the book make of the adaptation, particularly Pip and Ravi, because I know there’s a lot of interest in them. But I’m equally excited about bringing people who don’t know the book to the TV show, and perhaps bringing those people after they’ve seen the TV show to the book.

BBC iPlayer

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