Delightful Detective Agency comes to HBO
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Delightful Detective Agency comes to HBO
by E. Joyce Glasgow - SGN A&E Writer

Alexander McCall Smith's delightful international best selling book series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, has been developed into an HBO series that is charming and totally engaging. McCall Smith has used his incredibly inventive imagination to create a story filled with unexpected twists and turns and full of the essence of the culture, life and spirit of Botswana.

Grammy winner Jill Scott is perfectly beguiling as the heroine, the strong and self-assured Botswanan woman Precious Ramotswe, whose lifelong dream has been to open a detective agency. Her father always taught her to use her intuition as a child, giving her a good sense about reading people and an uncanny, confident ability to solve mysteries. When her father passes away, she takes the money from selling the cows that he left her and opens her detective agency in a dilapidated old post office on a dusty, rural Botswana street. The entertaining story which unfolds will have you smiling and never wanting it to end. It is brilliantly written by McCall Smith and very well directed by the late Anthony Minghella, who won the Oscar for The English Patient.

The series is completely filmed in Botswana and all the actors give stellar performances, including Scott and Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) as her prim, highly strung secretary, Desmond Dube as a funny Gay hairdresser and Lucian Msamati, as an endearing widower and auto mechanic who becomes a supportive friend and falls in love with Scott's character. Both Scott and Rose have mastered Botswanan accents beautifully. After the full feature length two-hour film pilot is shown a number of times, the series will continue in one-hour segments on HBO.

HBO hosted a preview of the pilot at SIFF Cinema for SIFF members on March 26, with special guest Alexander McCall Smith in attendance to answer questions and sign books. A wonderful musical group played music of Botswana and delicious appetizers were served afterwards and the whole evening was a special and memorable experience.

McCall Smith is a charming and articulate man. He said that it is important for him to write every day and even with his busy schedule in Seattle that day, he still managed to spend an hour writing. He writes several books simultaneously and is prolific in his output. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series has been translated into 39 languages and has sold more than 14 million copies worldwide.

McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He became a law professor in Scotland and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana. For many years he was a Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and is now Professor Emeritus.

A Renaissance man, McCall Smith has received numerous awards for his writing and has also been involved with the Human Genetics Commission of the UK, the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee and the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, who is a doctor, and two daughters and is co-founder of "The Really Terrible Orchestra," in which he plays bassoon and his wife plays the horn. The orchestra played a concert in New York City on April 1.