TV drama doors open for university screenwriting lecturer James

HIGH RANKIN: Author Ian, left, with Stephen Fry
HIGH RANKIN: Author Ian, left, with Stephen Fry
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A CITY lecturer will see his work unfold on television on Boxing Day after teaming up with Stephen Fry’s production company.

James Mavor, programme leader on the MA screenwriting course at Edinburgh Napier University, adapted Ian Rankin’s best-selling novel Doors Open for Sprout Pictures.

FRAMED: Stars Stephen Fry, Kenneth Collard, Lenora Crichlow and Dougie Henshall

FRAMED: Stars Stephen Fry, Kenneth Collard, Lenora Crichlow and Dougie Henshall

The thriller, which sees a group of friends plotting to stage the perfect crime, will be shown on STV and ITV, and stars Fry alongside actress Lenora Crichlow and Scottish actor Dougie Henshall, best known for his part in science fiction series Primeval.

Mr Mavor, a father-of-two who lives in Canonmills, said: “It took about a year to develop the book for the two-hour programme. It was amazing to see something you have worked on come to life.

“The finished product was much better than I had ever imagined.”

After all the hard work he received some very high praise, with bestseller Rankin, 52, saying Mr Mavor’s work was the best adaptation of any of his books.

“It is a bright and breezy tale,” said James. “A really good fun Christmas treat and something you can put your feet up and watch with a glass of sherry.”

The 52-year-old, whose daughter is Skins star Freya Mavor, is spending Christmas in France this year so hopes to catch up on the programme at a later date.

He has been friends with Rankin since their days at Edinburgh University in the late 1970s and early 80s.

The story brings a self-made millionaire, an art professor and a banker together to undertake an art heist on Doors Open Day – when Edinburgh’s buildings of interest are open to the public.

After a night of drinking, the trio devise a plan to swap priceless masterpieces with brilliantly accurate forgeries.

ITV described the programme as a “fast-paced, warm and witty drama set in the underbelly of Edinburgh’s world of corporate banking and fine art”.

The normally dapper Fry sported an unfamiliar haircut and facial hair on a visit to Newtongrange in Midlothian for filming earlier this year.

The comedian and presenter sprouted a beard and ponytail to take on the role of the art expert.

Fry, who has carved out a successful acting career having starred in Jeeves and Wooster, Blackadder and several films, portrays Professor Gissing in the small-screen version of Doors Open.

Portable buildings were put up at the rear of the National Mining Museum Scotland as a set for the feature.

Fry said he “adored” the character of Professor Gissing and a “shamefully vain” part of him refused to see anyone else in the role.

“I am so thrilled that ITV were of the same opinion,” he added.

Filming for the TV adaptation was carried out by Fry’s production company, Sprout Pictures, which he set up in 2004.

n Doors Open will be shown on STV and ITV at 9pm on Wednesday.