The Films and TV That Inspired ‘Unforgivable’

Guest post by Mike Thomas


It’s fair to say I love my films. And I love me a bit of TV, if you discount snooker coverage, soaps and all reality shows – I am proud to admit that I never watched Big Brother after the first series, and wouldn’t know what a TOWIEwas if it kicked me in the plums.

As a writer, I find there’s nothing better than hitting the sofa or cinema chair and soaking up other people’s work as it plays out on the screen. Absorbing it all. Just having that hour or two of mental space away from your own creative endeavours while you enjoy somebody else’s.

There’s a definite link between the novels I write and the things I watch. As a kid, devouring books, I also developed a love for television – Tom Baker’s Doctor Who, for starters – and came to adore the cinema. I can remember sitting with my mother and having the bejesus scared out of me during Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, when the evil Zenobia runs out of the potion required to turn her back into a human. When I saw her foot, mangled and marbled and still that of a seagull, I cowered into my mother and the film’s work was done: I went home and wrote stories where people turned themselves into all sorts of weird and troubling malformed creatures, a cabal of half-human, half-animal horrors.

Now, when I write, I picture the scene as if it were through the lens of a camera – the zooms and quick pans and dolly shots and fades to black. The wipes and overhead crane views, the tracking of characters as they move from room to room. The moving image has had such a profound effect on my life that I can’t work any other way.

So what films and TV shows inspired my latest novel, ‘Unforgivable’? The book covers five days in the UK city of Cardiff, which has been brought to a halt by a murderous bomber who is attacking the populace. I wanted it to be rich with detail, stuff that I learned during my twenty-plus years as a cop. But more than anything else I wanted it to be taught, mean and pacy as hell.

So here’s what I used as a reference. Some of them I love, and watch repeatedly. Some I’ll never watch again, but for just a couple of scenes, they blew me away and fed into ‘Unforgivable’…

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