Jack Irish

As a fully paid-up member of the Peter Temple fan club, my excitement was barely containable upon learning of the two telemovies which the ABC was planning to screen.

Neither ‘Bad Debts’ nor ‘Black Tide’ disappointed. Guy Pearce was well advised to return home for the lead role, a former criminal lawyer turned debt collector, gambler and general ‘problem solver’ for want of a better job description. The entire cast is strong and credible with beautiful vignettes and touches of humour such as the three habitués, Wilbur, Norm and Eric, of the local Prince of Prussia pub and the long-running lament for their beloved Fitzroy footy club long since banished to Brisbane.

Jack’s an interesting character with a colourful and somewhat threatening past. Bereft of family but richly blessed with a diverse array of friends and never long wanting for female company, there’s also the recurring spectre of his murdered wife, Isabel, hovering.

Both these productions lovingly capture Peter Temple’s gritty but very human ‘hero’ against the grubby back lanes of Fitzroy and the less salubrious parts ofMelbourne. They also faithfully retain all the twists and turns of plot which characterise the Jack Irish books and make them such compelling and rewarding reading.

My only complaint after being absorbed by both telemovies is that there are only two … so far.

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