NOVELS by award-winning crime writer Peter James are being turned into a TV series.

His best-selling series about the Brighton-based detective Roy Grace are to be brought to the small screen, with John Simm playing the starring role as the hard-working police officer.

Filming for the series, entitled Grace, will begin early this year, to appear on ITV in the autumn.

Peter, who lives near Henfield, said he was delighted the production will be shot on location.

He said: “The plan is for the whole production to be shot in and around Brighton, which I could not be more happy about.

“The great thing about Brighton for me is that it’s never really been filmed much, but visually it’s one of the most stunning places on Earth.

“It’s also got a criminal heritage, going right back to the days of the smugglers.

“All the villains of London would come down to Brighton in the Victorian times after the railway line opened and in 1932 it was known as the Slaughtering Queen of Europe.

“Today it is one of the coolest cities in the country but it has still got that edge.”

The drama, which is a co-production by Second Act Productions, Tall Story Pictures and Vaudeville Productions, will adapt the first two stories in the Roy Grace series – Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead.

The story opens with Grace’s career at rock bottom as the detective is fixated on running enquiries into long-forgotten cases, with little success.

But when a stag night prank appears to go wrong and the groom goes missing, Grace is called to unravel the case – and he finds himself getting uncomfortably close to the bride-to-be.

Peter said he “cannot think of a more perfect actor” than John Simm – of Life On Mars fame – to play his lead character.

The writer said: “I think he’s a wonderful actor. He’s got a warmth about him and a humour but also that toughness.

“At the end of the day, police officers have to be tough but the best ones have a considerable amount of empathy.”

Peter said the show’s producers hope the series will be as successful as ITV’s Inspector Morse.

He said: “That’s the other great thing about John Simm – he’s not been typecast.

“People know him but he’s done a lot of variety in his roles.

“So I really hope he is going to make Roy Grace his own.”

Peter, who was born in Hove and grew up in Withdean Road, said that a burglary in the 1980s spawned a relationship with the police which had given him great insight into how detectives work. He said: “I had just written my first book in 1981 and we were burgled.

“When police came in, one of them said to me that if I ever needed to do some research I could give them a call.

“I got chatting to him and I suddenly realised that from a writer’s perspective, no one sees more of human life than the police.

“They really see it all and that’s what started to fascinate me.”

Peter started to go out on patrol with officers, and even attended raids.

He made good friends with a detective, David Gaylor, who he said helped him work through the plots in the books and advised him on how a detective would work through a case.

Peter said: “When I first met David it was the most untidy office I had ever been in, with papers everywhere, and he said to me ‘These are all my dead friends’.

“He had been tasked with re-opening all the unsolved murder cases in the county.

“What that relationship has done is contribute majorly to the success of the books, as it’s about authenticity.

“I think people like to learn something as well when they’re reading, which is why getting it right is so important.”

Peter said he is confident the crime stories will transfer well to television.

He said: “I feel like we have a really good team on it. I’m really thrilled about the writer, Russel Lewis. He has really embraced Roy Grace.

“I really want to show Brighton in all its glory in the series.”

Writer Russell Lewis said: “I’m honoured to be involved in bringing Peter James’s brilliantly gripping series of Roy Grace novels to ITV.

“Each story is a fantastic, hair-raising, twisting, switch-back of a roller-coaster ride that grips the reader from first to last.”