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Sunday, March 23, 2008

No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency 

I have long been a fan of the series of books written by Alexander McCall Smith that tell the story of Mma Ramotswe and her No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gabarone, the capital of Botswana.

The books are very simply written but paint a glorious picture of life in Botswana with flashes of humour and strong dependable characters.

I was both excited and worried when I heard that the first book was to be screened by the BBC. Excited because these marvelous books would find a greater audience and worried that the televised version would suffer from the usual problems that beset written fiction when it is transferred to the silver screen.

I have just watched it.

It is a rare thing to see something you see in your head reproduced almost exactly on the television. OK, there were differences. Mma Ramotswe's little white van was not what I was expecting and I do not remember the exceedingly camp hairdresser from the first book. I will have to re-read it.

However, the rest of it was like seeing some old friends after a long absence. There was Precious Ramotswe in all her traditionally built glory living in her house on Zebra drive. Here was Mr JLB Matekoni, the owner of Speedy Motors, eternally repairing the little white van and having to suffer his lazy apprentices. Finally we saw Mma Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe's secretary and achiever of 97% at secretarial college.

Fabulous.

It is a fitting tribute to Anthony Minghella who died so recently and who's last work was to bring this book to life.

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