Sunday, 15 March 2009

Alexander McCall Smith

I saw an interesting interview this morning with Andrew McCall Smith, the author of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. What an interesting character he is. For years he was a professor of medical law, he lives in Edinburgh and he’s the author of over sixty books.

The conversation naturally turned to his most popular books about Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s finest and only female detective. He was asked why they are so popular when there’s never even a murder in them. He laughed and said that nothing really happens in them because there’s enough happening in the rest of the world. The books are really about people, what motivates them and how they behave. I thought that was a perfect description of them.

What I didn’t know about him was he founded The Really Terrible Orchestra in Edinburgh. An orchestra composed of people who wanted to play in a real orchestra but weren’t good enough. He said they are terrible players but really enjoy themselves and people strangely enough want to come to hear them play. “They come expecting something to go wrong and we never disappoint!” They played at the end of the interview and he was right, they are terrible but what a delightful character he is. For anyone in New York, USA, the orchestra is performing there in April 2009. Go if you dare!

Funnily enough I had watched the first film about the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency again last night! What a beautiful film it is. It was directed by Anthony Minghella with delightful background music, beautiful Botswana scenery and wildlife, wonderful actors portraying the characters and the gentle humour and stories about people. It's a far cry from the usual films about Africa and detective stories with as many murders, shootings and car chases as they can cram in!

Precious is such a delightful character, a “traditionally built” Botswanan lady, with a beautiful smile, she’s warm, witty and has an inbuilt intuition about people. The other characters are cleverly drawn too. It’s no wonder these books are so popular across the world.

I must get to the library, his new book in this series, Teatime for the Traditionally built has been published. Love that title. He also has a book from the 44 Scotland Street series published too, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones. I think this man likes his food!

The new series of six episodes of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency started tonight on BBC1. We enjoyed two hours of wonderful TV with not a murder or an advert in sight. First there was Larkrise to Candleford and then the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

Sheer bliss!


  1. That sounds like my kind of book. Let us know how you enjoy it.

    We were just looking didn't buy any thing yet , but we will as soon as the weather gets better.

  2. How awesome! Thanks for sharing!
    may god bless you !

  3. I read one of the Lady Agency books, and must say it was different from what I normally read. I would love to see the movie, but, I don't think it will be on TV over here. But, I will keep an eye out for it if ever it should be on TV.

  4. Gramma Ann

    I checked out the Alexander McCall Smith US website which you can get to through clicking the header on this post.

    Looks like it's being shown on March 29th in USA might be worth checvking if you can get this as I don't know anything about US telly. Anyway this is the url with the details
    I think it's also available on DVD but why spend the money if you can see it for free!

  5. Sorry, it won't let me post the full url. When you get into the site there's a little box on the bottom right hand side, Movie News, the info is in there.

    They're premiering the 2 hour pilot and then running the 6 part series on HBO.

  6. Thank you for the info on Alexander McCall Smith's U.S website. I will check it out today.
    I cancelled HBO some time ago because most of the movies I wanted to watch eventually came out on the regular channels in my satellite subscription.
    I think I saved $12.00 month. My satellite bill is only $106.00 month now. Crazy, isn't it?
    I might be able to rent the movie through Netflix for a lot less. I will check it out:))

  7. Marjorie
    I hadn't heard of HBO and we don't have Netfix.

    I don't subscribe to any satellite TV channels. Luckily most of the really good drama is on BBC and ITV which are terrestrial.

  8. Hello from France, I am british but moved to France 20 years ago, and love it! However I do watch british TV and the comic relief programmes have been absolutely brilliant. French TV is so boring with not a lot of choice. I have never read Alexander McCall Smith, but now I shall look out for his books when I am next in England.

  9. Interesting... Thanks for sharing! 8-)

  10. Hi Winifred,

    HBO is a movie channel, that you have to pay extra for. I do not subscribe to it, because I don't like the movies they show, plus they show the same movies over and over and if you wait a few months, the one or two that I would watch will be on regular TV. Like Marjorie, I too have satellite T.V. and that cost is quite expensive. I don't need any added costs. I will look into the information you gave me and see what I can find.

    Thank you for all the research you did and sharing it with us.


  11. Oh I'm so glad you posted this! I read the first Number One Ladies Detective Agency and loved it. I was looking for a new book to read while at the gym. I'll have to get one of the others.
    The Worst Orchestra sounds like great fun!

  12. Now this is the kind of detective series I would enjoy. Thanks for the great report on the author, and the books, Winifred. Will check into it.

    Have a great week!


  13. Nice to find your blog, and catch up on your posts. I love this show and the preceding Larkrise to Candleford. A friend loaned me one of the No1 books, and it is a wonderful gentle read, but the scenery on that show makes me want to holiday in Botswana.


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