BBC - British Broadcasting Corporation

21/06/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 20/06/2024 23:21

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder - author Holly Jackson and the cast on staying true to the books and the big scenes fans will recognise

It's the Summer holidays, but teenager Pip Fitz-Amobi is focused on an unusual school research project. In Little Kilton five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell went missing. Her boyfriend Sal Singh sent a text confessing to the murder before being found dead, seemingly taking his own life. Andie's body was never found. Case closed. However, Pip isn't so sure and is determined to prove Sal's innocence.

The six-part series is based on Holly Jackson's smash hit novels and stars Emma Myers (Wednesday), Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland, A Spy Among Friends), Gary Beadle (Rye Lane, Small Axe), Mathew Baynton (Ghosts, Wonka) and newcomer Zain Iqbal.

A Good Girl's Guide To Murder was filmed in and around Somerset, England. Commissioned by the BBC, the series is produced by Moonage Pictures (The Pursuit of Love, The Gentlemen, Bodies) in co-production with ZDFneo and Netflix.

All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer from Monday 1 July.

Interview with Poppy Cogan

Screenwriter and Executive Producer

Can you tell us about the show?

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is like a mash up of Booksmart, Veronica Mars and the podcast Serial. It's a proper whodunit, with a brilliant mystery at its heart but it's also a mixture of genres. There's lightness and comedy, but as the series progresses, it cranks up to an exciting thriller, there are even flashes of horror. It's got a bit of everything.

What are the major challenges for adapting the novel?

The novel was such a hit and had such an emotional connection to its fans that it felt like a huge responsibility to do it justice. So that was the first challenge and then there were some more executional challenges that we had to think about. Part of the charm of the book is that it is written in quite a graphic style. It has interview transcripts, typed up notes, handwritten post-its, which give the book a fun visual feel. Of course, we needed to find a different way to get the information across on the screen, everything needed to come to life. Another big challenge was working out what we should leave out. We've only got six 45-minute episodes, and there's a lot of material in the book so it was about honing that, figuring out what was okay to leave out and what we needed to keep. It was a challenge, but Holly was really helpful with this.

How did you adapt the book to make its story and structure work across six episodes of television?

It's a brilliantly plotty story with lots twists and turns. In terms of the process, at the very beginning we had a two-week writers' room. I and my three co-writers, Ruby Thomas, Ajoke Ibironke and Zia Ahmed, got in a room together and we mapped out the whole series and broke it into episodes. We tried to theme each episode so that there's a real feeling of escalation through the show, of jeopardy and darkness building as Pip delves deeper into the secrets of her town. We had all read the book forensically but in the plotting of the show we had to almost do away with the book and work it out as a TV show then return to the book to check that the key plot points fitted into the new structure. It was great fun but took a lot of attention to detail. Holly was great at making sure we hadn't missed anything important.

What was the casting process for Pip and Ravi?

Pip is such an iconic character. She's got this earnestness and this good girl quality, but we needed to make sure she never became irritating. In the novel you have access to her internal thoughts, her insecurities etc. and so you empathise with her. It was a balance that wasn't always easy to achieve in the scripts. So much of the charm in the end comes down to the actress who plays her. When we saw Emma's audition we knew immediately she was perfect. She had this physical comedy about her that adds so much to the charm of the character. She just nailed it. Ravi was interesting to cast because we saw a lot more experienced actors, but Zain just completely shone in his audition. He had an easy-going charm, a real naturalness and the chemistry between him and Emma was there from the start. The whole team knew he would be perfect.

Can you explain what the murder board is and what part it plays in the show?

The murder board is really important, it grows to cover a whole wall of her bedroom where Pip spends a lot of time processing information. It is so helpful in expressing where Pip is in her investigation and in showing her thoughts. The murder board practically had its own crew because it had to be right for each shot, for every episode. That is one of my favourite things, actually, seeing those shots of Pip in front of the murder board. It looks iconic.

Why are you excited about the series?

I'm excited for so many reasons. I'm really happy with the way the scripts turned out. I think the show is funny and thrilling, and the characters that were in Holly's book we've really brought to life. The cast are a dream, Anna Maxwell Martin and Gary Beadle as Pip's parents and Mathew Baynton as Elliot Ward are all such talented actors. We felt so lucky to get them and they give the show some adult gravitas. I'm excited to see the chemistry that Pip and Ravi have and how it develops across the series. I know that fans of the book are hugely invested in their relationship, so I hope they're pleased with how we've told that story. And then the actors in the friendship group bring this wonderful warm heartedness and humour, I think people are going to fall in love with them. I'm also excited to see the relationship between Pip and her best friend Cara. Asha Banks who plays Cara Ward is super talented, and her and Pip's friendship is beautiful to watch. And finally, I'm excited to bring the visual world of Little Kilton to life. The director Dolly Wells has an amazing eye and she did such a great job creating a world that feels quintessentially English but with a twist - a picture-perfect town with a dark underbelly. There are also some thrilling action set pieces that have you on the edge of your seat.

Why it's a story for now?

I've got three teenagers and I've noticed how much pressure there is on them to always be right about everything, to know the right answer to things. When I was their age, we had more space to work things out without judgement. It was easier. One of the central themes we explore in the show is what it means to be a 'good girl'. Over the course of the series Pip is forced to explore the nuance around people and situations. Pip's character arc takes her on a journey from a good girl who sees the world in black and white to a more complex character who is more aware of the shades of grey.

What do you feel you've achieved with the series?

We've achieved a fast paced, thrilling teen show that has something for everybody in it.

Interview with Holly Jackson

Author and Executive Producer

Can you tell us about A Good Girl's Guide To Murder?

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is based on my debut YA thriller book which first released in 2019. And, clearly, you can't keep a good girl down because, since then, it has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide and been translated into around 40 languages. Both the book and the TV show tell the story of 17-year-old Pip who decides to investigate a closed murder case for her school EPQ project. Everyone in the small town of Little Kilton believes that five years ago, Sal Singh killed his girlfriend, Andie Bell, and her body has never been found. Everyone except Pip that is. As she starts digging into the case, she'll soon realise that the people around her have many secrets. Secrets they want to stay buried in the past. And if the person who really killed Andie is still out there, how far will they go to stop Pip from finding the truth?

What is it about A Good Girl's Guide to Murder that makes it right for a television adaptation?

I think the reason that A Good Girl's Guide to Murder lends itself so well to a TV show is because the book is cinematic. I don't start writing until I know every single beat and scene and can run the plot like a movie in my head. I think that's why so many readers have been clamouring for an adaptation since the start. So, in a way, it felt like quite a natural translation to turn A Good Girls Guide book into the TV show, with all the big set piece scenes readers will recognise from the book, and new scenes or existing scenes envisioned in a new way to fit the visual medium. All the characters we love, and the same story and plot twists are there from the book because I know readers are very protective and want to see a faithful adaptation. I have made sure - wherever I was able - that the show stays true to the books, because I owe my readers everything and want them to love this adaptation as much as the books.

What were the major challenges for adapting the novel and what was important for you to maintain in terms of the DNA of the book?

What has always been most important to me throughout this adaptation process is to stay loyal to the source material and make sure it adheres to the spirit of the book, as I know that that's what readers truly want to see. I'm really excited for everyone to see the characters and scenes they already love, and some new surprises too. When I sold the option rights to the book, before it even published, we had no idea that A Good Girl's Guide to Murder was going to keep growing and growing. Five years later, it's now a full trilogy and a worldwide bestseller, becoming this behemoth of a book series. By the time it came to writing the episodes, we were in a completely different situation than when we first started out which definitely added to the pressure to get it right. That inspired us to make this the best TV show we possibly could, to honour not only how successful the books have been, but how engaged these fans are and how protective they are of Pip and her story. I have always kept that at the forefront of my mind.

Why is it a story for now?

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is very much a modern take on an Agatha Christie-esque style mystery. Just like the book, we rely heavily on social media for both plot and style and embrace an almost multi-media storytelling at times: there are TikToks in the show, and there's a whole plot strand about Instagram photos. As a reader and viewer of other modern thrillers, I have often felt frustrated when some plot device is introduced in order to remove access to phones and technology, seeing those things as obstacles to a thriller story. Instead, I wanted to use the everyday aspects of our lives - like Fitbits and the "Find my friends" app on phones - to find ways of adapting these everyday devices and apps and somehow turning them into crime-solving tools. A Good Girl's Guide to Murder truly embraces that and that's why I think readers - and future viewers - are so invested in Pip's investigation, because they can realistically feel like they could solve a murder in the same way she does.

Who are the central characters and how important was getting the casting right, especially for Pip and Ravi?

Casting the two lead roles was our most high-pressure task because we knew from the start that we had to find the perfect Pip and Ravi. The show would not work if we didn't find the right actors. The first time Emma Myers' name was mentioned to me was in a conversation with one of the other execs. I had just recently watched the show Wednesday (in fact, in a strange coincidence, I had been watching it while signing copies of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder). As soon as her name was brought up, I knew she was the one, the person who was always meant to play Pip. I didn't even need to see Emma read for the part to know she would be perfect, though when I did, I got goosebumps! Pip is quite a complicated character, and I just knew that Emma had the ability to do her justice: that perfect balance between the soft and the prickly, the funny and the serious, the awkward and heart-breaking, the teenage innocence with a glimpse of potential darkness beneath the surface. I have to say, I had the highest expectations of Emma, and she completely blew me away with her performance. She is utterly mesmerising and so smart and dedicated to her craft. I cannot wait for everyone to see her as Pip; she is a once-in-a-generation talent!

The search for Ravi was equally as daunting, as he has become known as one of the internet's favourite 'book boyfriends' and is a character who is adored worldwide. I only ever saw one person read for Ravi, and that was Zain Iqbal. As soon as I saw him, I knew he was the one. I actually giggled to myself during Emma and Zain's chemistry read because I knew we'd done it, that we'd found our Pip and Ravi. I'm so proud of Zain; this has been his first real acting job and - boy - did we throw him into the deep end. I have been so impressed by his bravery in taking this role on, and watching him grow on set every day, and for perfectly embodying such a well-loved character. I wouldn't have trusted Ravi with anyone else. I'm so excited for everyone to see Team Pip and Ravi in the flesh when the show finally comes out - I can just picture all the amazing fan edits now!

How did you feel about the fan reactions, the casting of those two?

I always knew that when we announced the casting for Pip and Ravi that there was going to be a strong reaction and a lot of noise on the internet, because this is such an engaged fanbase. So, I have to admit, I was nervous. VERY nervous. Especially as Emma and Zain were choices I supported; what if the readers disagreed and then blamed me? My heart was in my mouth when I pressed send on that Instagram post with a photo of me and Emma and Zain. But I shouldn't have worried for even one second: the reaction was incredible. Every single comment was overwhelmingly positive, with people praising the 'perfect casting'. You could just feel the excitement as the news exploded across the world. That's when I knew that we'd got it right, and if we could get the casting spot-on, then maybe we really could make a special show that readers and new fans alike would love.

What do you feel you've achieved with the series?

My one goal with this adaptation has always been to make a show that feels true to the book, because A Good Girl's Guide to Murder would have gone nowhere without its loyal (and huge) readership, and I know that I owe them everything. I kept the readers in the forefront of my mind with every decision and have always advocated for them. So I hope that, in the end, we have made a TV show that they will love and feel proud of, like I do. I will be nervously awaiting their reactions, but I'm secretly optimistic that we've done it: created a faithful adaptation that is a fresh and binge-worthy show in its own right.

Interview with Emma Myers

Playing Pip Fitz-Amobi

Who is Pip?

Pip is a very strong character, just so determined. The way Holly Jackson has written her in the books and the way it's been translated on screen by Poppy Cogan was such a joy to play. Pip's journey and what she goes through is quite a lot. She's a completely different person from the start to the end. It was really fun exploring that.

Can you give us a bit of an overview of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder?

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is the story of Pip and her determination to solve a murder that happened in her hometown five years ago. She doesn't believe who was accused of it, did it. So she goes on this mission to uncover it herself. Along the way she finds out lots of twists and turns, secrets and some bad people.

What was it about the scripts that made you want to join the project?

I just like the drama of the scripts and the way it flows. It tells a really good story, which has been translated really well from book to script. Sometimes it's really hard adapting things to screen, but the way Poppy has done it has been phenomenal.

Can you tell us about working with Dolly Wells (Director) and how you brought Pip to life?

I really loved working with Dolly. She's very collaborative. When were in prep, we had a lot of rehearsals and just feeling things out and really getting to know the character. It was really helpful to have her sit down with us for a couple weeks. We all established our characters very early on and it was because Dolly really wanted us to have a sense of our character from the get go instead of having to figure it out as you go. That's one of the things that really makes her just amazing to work with. She cares very much about her actors and really wants to make sure that they shine independently on screen in different ways.

Can you tell us about Pip and Ravi's relationship, how they're drawn together?

At the start, it's not that Pip and Ravi are enemies as such, it's more like Ravi doesn't really like her that much because she's digging into his family's private business that perhaps she shouldn't be digging into. It is painful for him. But as a twosome, they really balance each other out. Ravi gives her the strength and determination to keep going. Also, Ravi's just a good guy, and Pip needs that in her life.

How is it working with Zain?

Zain is a funny guy. He knows how to have a laugh, as you guys call it, some quick banter. It was fun to work with him and see his take on Ravi. I love watching people learn their characters and really get into it, and it was great to watch him through this process. I've not worked with somebody like him before, it was a good experience.

What was it like working with Anna and Gary, who play your parents?

Leanne is played by the wonderful Anna Maxwell Martin and Victor is played by the equally wonderful Gary Beadle. I loved working with the two of them. Nothing is serious with them. Even a sad, depressing scene is not serious with them. So the tone on set is not depressing. It's always fun when they're around. They're just very knowledgeable, experienced and so professional, but fun at the same time. It was really a pleasure to work with both of them.

Who is Pip's friendship group?

Pip's gang consists of Cara, Connor, Lauren and Zach. Cara is really a big staple in Pip's life, she goes to her for everything. She's more like a sister to her than a best friend. Their relationship is amazing. Working with Asha, who plays Cara, was so great. We became very close on set. Our dynamic in the show is the same as our dynamic in real life so it's a very special relationship to be shown on screen. We've got the wonderful Raiko playing Zach, Jude playing Connor, and Yali playing Lauren. All of them are just hilarious. I want them as my friendship group. Each and every one of them was spectacular and amazing actors and so fun. We became really close.

Can you tell us about the world of Little Kilton?

A Good Girls Guide To Murder is based in a small town called Little Kilton, which in the script is described as a chocolate box village. It's a very strange setting for a very mysterious and taboo murder but that makes it more interesting. There is this small community, where everyone knows everyone and everyone knows each other's business and yet something tragic has happened that is shrouded in mystery it seems. It is a fascinating setting for a drama.

How does the story develop?

The show starts with this warm, happy tone, just a girl trying to do a school project. But as Pip uncovers clues, stories, it takes a shift. The show deals with a lot of themes of racism, sexual assault and drugs and abuse. The way the show handles these topics, is important. The way the story is told, is heartbreaking to be honest with you. It's not the happy little town that people think it is.

What do you think makes it different from other crime or detective shows?

The show is different from a lot of other crime shows, namely that the detective is a teenage girl and it's a female driven story. It's really interesting, and the twists and turns that are in it are so well done and so well fleshed out. Holly really thought about every single thing up until the end, and you can totally tell when you read the book and then the way it has been translated into the scripts. Poppy just did that phenomenally. It's one of a kind.

Did you have a favourite location to film in?

My favourite location was probably the Hastings mansion because the party was so fun. Myself and Asha had these amazing star costumes, the crowd, it was just great. I also loved filming at the police station and getting to do scenes with Jackson, who plays Dan Da Silva.

How does the murder board help depict where Pip is at in the investigation?

I personally find it helpful to put out visual things to keep track of everything and remind myself of stuff. Pip does as well. It's good for her to visualise everything at once. It was such a fun day on the first day of shooting the murder board, putting everything up and writing it. I knew it was going to be so fun. It was beautiful, honestly stunning. It looks great with all that detail on the wall, especially as the investigation goes on.

What are you most excited for?

I think everybody's going to enjoy the performances. I really believe that this cast have brought their characters to life and done it in such unique ways. I've been so lucky to work with all of them and they've made my performance better. I feel more passionate about this when I'm with all of them and I love them so much. People are going to enjoy seeing the characters that they've read for years finally on screen and it's going to be really fun.

Interview with Zain Iqbal

Playing Ravi Singh

What is A Good Girls Guide To Murder?

It's a thriller about a 17-year-old who decides to revisit a closed murder case in Little Kilton, the small town the series is set in. Everyone believes that Ravi's brother, Sal, murdered Andie Bell five years ago, or do they? Pip decides she wants to investigate the case and annoyingly asks Ravi for help to solve the case. He's sceptical at first but then starts to realise that she, Pip, actually wants to find out the truth.

Can you tell us a little bit about Ravi?

Ravi is the brother of Sal, who was accused of murder years ago. As the show progresses he becomes Pip's righthand man, I guess like Sherlock and Watson. Ravi supports Pip as she goes about her business to uncover the truth.

How did you feel when you got the call to say you'd got the job?

Quite emotional, and a relief as well. I had six or seven auditions, and obviously, the more you're auditioned and the more they call you back, the more you get invested. You want it even more. In the first audition, you just treat it like any other audition, but then when they keep bringing you back, you want it more and more. So it was a massive relief and I'm really grateful.

What are you most excited for in the series?

The whole world that's been created. Obviously the book is a massive success, so seeing all that come to life, the set design, the costumes, the actors, the makeup. Little Kilton itself, the town, everything comes alive. Even the key moments or the key stages in the book where something major happens, seeing that translated onto screen is amazing.

What was your favourite scene to film?

Tough one. Probably where we break into Andie Bell's house, or the hotel scene with all the pancakes. Actually having to eat that many pancakes wasn't fun, but everything else was. I hope it looks good, it was fun, to a certain point I just ate too much in the first take and that was it, I was done for. Luckily the pancakes were delicious.

Do you have a favourite line that you said, across the series?

The fan favourite, "Hey, Sarge".

How pivotal is the relationship between Pip and Ravi?

Very, very, very pivotal. There's no Ravi without Pip, there's no Pip without Ravi. They're both there for each other and I don't think Pip would've been able to solve anything without Ravi. Ravi's in his own world before he meets Pip, and Pip brings Ravi out of his shell. He doesn't speak to anyone, doesn't interact with anyone apart from in his house, so she's the first person since this murder has happened five years ago, that he's spoken to and opened up to.

What was it like working with Emma?

It was amazing. I think I'm going to find it weird to go and act with someone else now, because I was acting with Emma only. But yes, it was amazing. Ever since we did the first chemistry read in person, we just clicked. And I just remember her pulling me round, running round this massive studio that we were doing the audition in. And ever since then we've just worked well together. In the fun scenes we had fun, and in the emotional and deep scenes we helped each other get to those places and find the emotional truth about the characters.

What was it like bringing the story from the page to screen?

It can be tough, but you just have to trust yourself and your scene partner. For me, honestly, it was a lot easier than I thought, because Emma completely switched it on and all I had to do was listen and react. I hope that's translated onto screen. It was quite difficult balancing the darkness of the story with aspects of lightness and comedy, but it's part of the story, you have tell that part of the story.

How did the sets, and the town where you filmed, Axbridge, in Somerset, help bring the world to life?

It helped massively. The sets are crazy and the way they changed the town of Axbridge to become Little Kilton was incredible. It's a little square, where they changed all the shop signs, they put up the full mural. A major one for me where I shot a lot was Pip's bedroom. The murder board was so good, I know it caused headaches, but it was awesome. Just sitting in her room and doing the scenes helped massively. There's a scene where Ravi finds a pattern in the photos, he rearranges the photos of these Instagram screenshots to give Pip an answer to something, that was so fun to do. Honestly seeing all the evidence and clues on the board really helped bring that intensity and makes it really real.

What sets A Good Girl's Guide to Murder apart from other detective shows?

It's dark, but it's got a lot of humour in it, and different aspects that are not dark. You've got Pip's friendship group, that's all fun and jokes. You've got Pip and Ravi, and they do have fun together, and there's the romance that comes into it slowly. It's exciting that there's more to it than what you first see, and it's not just a detective show. It's a whole world.

Interview with Anna Maxwell Martin

Playing Leanne

What drew you to A Good Girls Guide To Murder?

I hadn't read the book but my daughter had, so I was aware that lots of people were going crazy for it. When something comes along that your children are going mad for you do tend to have a little look and get involved in it. It's quite nice that I'm in something they can watch rather than things that are inappropriate or that makes them cringe massively and hate watching me in it. Additionally to that, there are just really great, and creative people on board. I'd wanted to be in Dolly's orbit for a long time so that was fantastic for me.

Who is Leanne?

I play Leanne, who is Pip's mum, and trying to do a good job. She's trying, sometimes failing. I think she's pretty nice as a mum, she just cares about and is a bit worried about her. She can see Pip going down a precarious road. She's pretty sensible, although I can imagine her feeling a bit full on, maybe a little bit pushy. She has high expectations of Pip which I think means she is pushy, she can't bear to see her waste her life.

Emma Myers plays your daughter Pip. What was it like working with her?

Emma is super, one of the reasons she's really wonderful in this is she's brilliantly contained. So much of what she does is contained and on the inner. That is so interesting and really pivotal in a story like this where you're following somebody about, following her inner life and not just a case as in a traditional detective show. It is about what's going on for her personally and emotionally. Emma keeps that beautifully contained. That's her wonderful gift in this. There's just so much going on inside her head and it is really, really beautiful to watch. I don't think you know the full length and breadth of that until you see it on screen.

Family dynamics and friendship play an important role here. How is that shown in the series?

I think we've tried to really not make it too cheesy. We all get on in real life and I think you see that which really helps. I hope it seems as normal as possible. I do make Pip cry at one point, which is very true to life of so many family dynamics. Especially with teenagers I think.

What was it like working with the directors?

Working with Dolly Wells and Tom Vaughan was an absolute joy. They're both very good, very naughty, my kind of directors.

Interview with Gary Beadle

Playing Victor

What drew you to A Good Girl's Guide To Murder?

A number of factors really. The most exciting thing was getting to work with Anna (Maxwell Martin), alongside a group of young, talented people. Then of course, Dolly (Wells), alongside our producer Florence (Walker), our other director Tom (Vaughan). It is always great when someone asks you what you're working on and you can say A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, which despite me not knowing much about really resonates with so many people. It's fun.

Can you tell us a little bit about your character, Victor?

I play Victor, Pips' stepdad. Victor is loving, doting, compassionate and empathetic. Emma and Victor are both complete nerds in terms of doing meticulous preparation for any kind of project, task or anything. He absolutely adores his wife. I feel like he's a very amiable fellow, and that his wife brings out the best in him. But more than anything, he is that calm tempo amongst the chaos.

What was it like working with Emma Myers, who plays your daughter Pip?

She was an absolute gem. One of the incredible things about Emma is that she draws you in. I don't know how best to describe her, but she's so wonderfully enigmatic. There is something about her that is very watchable. She's perfect to play someone who comes of age during the show. That first kiss, those relationships with friends. Even an old goat like me can remember those days when everything is just so fresh and new.

What is this drama about?

What starts off as a school project, an unsolved investigation in Pip's eyes, builds into something much more as she draws these pieces together. It's one you can't take your eyes off. It has a momentum that starts off in one way, goes in another, starts to really pick up and you're left thinking, what's coming next?

Family dynamics and friendship play an important role here. How does that come across in the show?

We are able to show a whole range of family dynamics here which was fun. Sibling relationships, parents, the disagreements, empathy, frustration - all those things are played out. I feel the dynamics are beautiful, everybody's got their own corner covered. When we were put together, there was a nice mix of reality, in the way that everything's not perfect, but we strive to be perfect.

Why should people watch to A Good Girls Guide To Murder?

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is a real rollercoaster of a whodunnit, on top of a coming of age story with some shocks inbetween. The audience will come away satisfied at the end.

Interview with Asha Banks

Playing Cara

Tell us about Cara.

I play Cara Ward, who is Pip's best friend, they are like sisters and honestly I think Cara's just the coolest ever. She's so funny, she's really sarcastic and dry. During filming I spoke to Holly Jackson, who said she thought she was most similar to Cara out of the book characters, which made so much sense because everything that comes out of Holly's mouth is sarcastic and hilarious and it's kind of the same with Cara. Which is why I loved Holly so much and also love Cara.

How did you feel when you got the call and got that role?

I was so excited, it was surreal. During the audition process I'd stopped myself from reading the book because I'd read the script for the audition and I knew if I went all in with the book, I would fall in love with it too much and it would be so much worse if I didn't get the role. As soon as I got off the part I straight away dived in to the book and finished it in days. I was ready and raring to go and just so excited to find out who was playing Pip, Cara's friends, her dad. All of them! I never could have prepared myself for how amazing it was when I found out that Emma (Myers) was playing Pip, and then how our friendship blossomed throughout filming.

What were your favourite scenes to film?

I particularly loved the camping scenes because they were the first night shoots we did, which was just so much fun. As a friendship group we are all super close and being in the middle of a forest at three in the morning, being in Bristol, was completely surreal. The scene was us in the middle of the forest, in this beautiful lit up tent, it was so idyllic and we just had so much fun with it. I also loved all my scenes with Emma. We have one scene in episode four where we're lying on the grass, on a blanket and having a really truthful conversation that felt really real. I feel like I've had that conversation before and it felt so real. It was actually one of my audition scenes so it was blissful to do that in real life.

What do you think sets A Good Girl's Guide apart from other mystery thrillers?

I think the fact that Pip is so young, she's a teenage girl and is doing this whole investigation by herself, she takes it all on her own shoulders. As an audience we get to figure it out with her. I remember when I read the book I spent the whole time completely fixated on trying to figure it out alongside her so I know our tv version of this is going to be gripping and so entertaining to follow along with Pip.

There are a lot of sensitive and serious subjects dealt with, within the show. How do you think audiences will react to that?

It is handled truthfully. A lot of these are challenges that every young person faces day to day and the fact that it's reflected on screen is just the best part. There's a truthfulness and honesty to it. This is the same in Holly's writing as well - she writes real people, who have real issues and the fact that that's reflected on screen is just great.

What was it like filming with the gang of friends?

It was just chaos the whole time. We all completely clicked straight away. I remember sitting in our first meeting with everyone, which the producers put together to test the waters, testing chemistry and it was amazing, I think they were wondering what on earth they had done! We had the best time ever. I'd never been to Bristol before and it was just brilliant. As a group we spent 24 hours together and had the best time ever. I hope that is reflected on screen because it was all true. We're all super similar to our characters as well I think, which is quite funny. We've all got quite big chunks of ourselves in our characters, so the dynamic was actually quite similar to how it is in in the show as well as in our personal lives.

What was it like working with Mathew (Baynton) who plays your dad?

Working with Mathew was amazing. I feel like he's an icon for people of our generation. As soon as I told people who I was working with they would straight away quote 'I love the people and the people love me' from Horrible Histories! I was just so excited to be working with him. He was brilliant, honestly the funniest man I've ever met. He had me crying with laughter throughout all of our scenes together. He did feel like a father figure, we just got on really well and he was really comforting and able to help us because of his experience. He plays this part so well.

What was it like bringing the book to the screen with all the various teams?

It was a dream. I had the best summer ever, every single department was so lovely. Going to the hair and makeup truck in the morning, getting our costumes on, it was always so fun. Dolly our director for block one who auditioned us, really helped us create our roles. I've really found in this job that there were loads of strong women that were behind it, even when my first meeting, it was a whole panel of women, and Dolly's dog! I just thought it was incredible and instantly I was drawn to it because of how cool everyone was, how excited everyone was to create this. And of course, it is so exciting because it has so many amazing fans who are just desperate to see it. Even I feel like one of them now!

What are you most excited for about the series?

I'm definitely most excited for the fantastic fans of Holly's book to see what we've done with it and to see what they think of it. It was a little overwhelming but in an amazing way, beginning filming and when we were announced. Everyone was so excited, so positive and just so loving towards it and to us. So I can't wait to see the reaction as and when the trailer goes out, or any more snippets. Just to see their reaction.

Interview with Mathew Baynton

Playing Elliot Ward

Who is Elliot Ward?

Elliot Ward is Pip's English teacher and Cara and Naomi's father. He believes in Pip and wants to help her do well, and he's attempting to be everything to his girls after they lost their mother. He is trying to hold things together for their sake. It is that complexity that drew me to the role.

What is A Good Girls Guide To Murder about?

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is about an ambitious and curious young student, Pip, who decides to re-open an old case in which Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh, who then killed himself. She suspects the police might have got it wrong. In doing so Pip re-opens old wounds in the community and puts herself in danger in the process. What's cool about it and what really sets it apart is that it's as much a coming of age story as it is a murder investigation. There's this procedural element, but the protagonist is not a professional detective and not even fully an adult yet, she's someone emerging into adulthood and going through all of the things that you go through at that age. This young woman, Pip, is facing adulthood and all the excitement and terror that comes with it. New relationships, new experiences, both thrilling and scary. It's as much about the realisation that people can hurt you, and that as you go out into the world, you need to be careful who you trust.

How would you describe the dynamic between Elliot and his children, particularly Cara?

You get the feeling that he's really genuinely trying to keep a happy house. He's conscious of the loss that they've all been through, that he loves his daughters and that he wants them to be happy. It doesn't fully delve into how open they are with each other about discussing that grief and so maybe there's more than meets the eye. I feel like he tries to be light with them and there's a bit of humour in the way that they interact with each other.

Had you read the book before you got the role of Elliot?

I hadn't but as soon as I was on board I started seeing it everywhere and everyone I spoke to who had teenage kids had read it so I quickly realised what a big deal it was. Once I got the part I read the book in order to find out how it ends, because when I was offered the role, there were only scripts for the first few episodes and I was desperate to find out what happened. Does Pip find the truth? Where does my character end up, and where do his daughters end up? I wanted to know more. It was exciting as Holly had written a character with real depth and shades, which Poppy, Dolly and the team translated perfectly to the script and then to screen.

What can we expect from the other casting?

For me I am most interested in Pip, Cara and their group of friends because I think groups of characters can often end up mirroring that. I was watching this bunch of people all become and behave like a really tight group of friends.

What was it like working with Dolly Wells (Director)?

I had worked with Dolly Wells years ago as an actor in Spy and was very excited to work with her as a director. It was a privilege to see her supporting this young cast, and fostering a really positive atmosphere in front of camera, one that ensured we could all do our best work.

What are you most excited for the fans to see?

With a book, it's your own imaginative world, you picture everything in your head and you get really close relationships with those characters. There can be a bit of a process when you get a TV or film version of something where you have to let go of your imagination and then take on the idea, oh, that's what that character looks like. I didn't picture them that way, or whatever. So hopefully there's added dimension to this and people can still go away and enjoy the books and their images in their head, too.

An interview with Dolly Wells

Director and Executive Producer

Can you tell us a little bit about the show?

A Good Girls Guide to Murder is based on Holly Jackson's brilliant book, about a young woman, Pip, who's in her last phase of childhood. She's just about to leave school and is working out who she is. At the same time, she wants to open up a closed case about the death of Andie Bell. She feels that she will be the one to find out who really did it.

What do you think makes A Good Girls Guide to Murder right for a television adaptation?

You're gripped from both the beginning of page one of the book and the script. There are so many twists and turns. It's a combination of really exciting plot and a lovely coming of age story. That hits a real sweet spot.

What's the tone of the show?

On one hand we lean into nostalgic films like Grease, Booksmart, Clueless and The Breakfast Club. On the other we have a hint of shows such as Euphoria about young people going through all sorts of dramas.

Why is it story for now and what will make it stand out?

It's a story for now because any good story is a story for now. I feel it will stand out because fundamentally it's about a group of young people with Emma Myers at the helm playing Pip who is a curious, brave, sort of everyday hero.

How did you find the perfect Pip and Ravi?

Given quite a number of people know these characters to a degree, it was so important to get somebody absolutely fantastic for Pip. We were all hooked into Emma Myers from the start, we knew she'd be perfect. We also got our perfect Ravi in Zain Iqbal, which was really exciting. It was just something you'll see when you watch him. He's really wonderful. The casting was incredibly important, but it was really fun. When Pip and Ravi did their screen tests together, we were so excited as they were really wonderful together.

What have Emma and Zain brought to those roles?

Emma and Zain have just made Pip and Ravi jump off the pages of the script. Emma is perfect. Her physical comedy, her movement is very good, but she also brings a fierce curiosity, wanting justice and being so clever. On top of that she is cheeky and funny. She's just a very, very good, strong actress. Their dynamic together is great. They've got a great on-camera chemistry. With Zain, I feel like he's like a modern Keanu Reeves, he's really good at action but he also makes Ravi vulnerable, you can also see the fun and the sweet aspects of his character, that he's gone through something quite hard and has been reawoken by Pip. They're perfect for the roles.

How did you find that perfect friendship group to fit around Pip?

Yali plays Lauren, she brings a sort of Marilyn Monroe comic aspect to the character. Then there's Raiko who plays Zach and he brings this eccentric, slightly deadpan aspect to Zach. Jude who's playing Connor, who's funny and plays the daft one, really. Finally, we have Asha who plays Cara, who's Pip's best friend. She's warm and sweet and supportive and they play off each other so well, feels like they really are best friends. They all come together and work so beautifully, like an orchestra.

What do Gary and Anna bring to the roles of Pip's parents?

Gary Beadle is playing Victor and he's brilliant because he's warm and funny and commands this quiet respect. Anna Maxwell Martin plays Leanne, Pip's mother and she was a delight, we're just so lucky to have her. There is something about her that you absolutely believe she and Emma are mother and daughter. Additionally, we've got Mathew Baynton playing Elliot, who brings a warmth. You believe he's a teacher, but he still seems young and in touch with the younger ones. He's got that same intellectual curiosity that Pip's got, so there's that nice relationship between them.

How did Axbridge as a location bring Little Kilton to life?

Little Kilton in the show is really important because it's got to be a chocolate box village, to seem really pretty, but must have this feeling of the woods surrounding it, of nature encroaching in this rather dark, menacing way. You want Little Kilton to seem perfect on the surface, like Twin Peaks in a way. We chose a town that when you come through the main high street, it twists and turns, and the houses are very bright colours, but it is surrounded by very woody hills. It feels very British but it has an edge.

What about the woods as a location?

The woods look very beautiful and were a very beautiful place to shoot in, but are on the outskirts of the town and it feels a bit lawless. It has a Lord of the Flies feeling to them, like there's no rules in the woods, and you aren't really sure what's happening in the shadows.

How did you translate the scripts from page to screen?

What I was the most interested in was getting really strong performances, to feel like these characters and these scenes feel real. It's really exciting picturing how all these pieces will come together, wondering how the town will feel, how the proximity of the houses, woods will feel, what the memorial wall will look like. We had really great heads of department, casting, locations, art department costume, hair and make-up, it goes on. A million things come together to create this world.

In terms of tone and visual style and pace, what can audiences look forward to by way of the production values?

The tone of the show is warm, playful and inviting but also takes you into a dark, more menacing territory. With the help of my very talented Director of Photography Seppe Van Grieken, we wanted to make the world accessible, a world you want to be a part of and can relate to, while also visually affecting with great locations. We also wanted to get the pacing right, which we felt was so important for this show and everything that happens within. There are moments when it can be a bit slower, when you're getting to know the characters' relationships and who they are. Then when things become more urgent or you're following a clue, it has to speed up. We hope that comes across.

What do you feel you've achieved with the series?

We had a really great time making the show, which I think is very important. Everybody worked incredibly hard to bring to life the world that Holly so brilliantly created in her books and that in turn Poppy so brilliantly adapted in her scripts. And we all had a really good time. The actors' enthusiasm was infectious.

Interview with Frith Tiplady

Executive Producer - Moonage Pictures

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.