Should The Big Blind be adapted for the big screen, here are the author's suggestions for the principal cast and director:
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Okay, let's say I had it all my own way: The Big Blind would keep its northern British roots, that big Manchester rain and the grey concrete bleakness of modern trading estate Britain. If it ever made it to the screen, the visuals should make people think of wet dog - that's the best olfactory summary I can come up with. Maybe wet dog with the hint of stale lager.
For Alan Slater, our humble narrator and perpetually harassed double-glazing salesman, there's really no other choice than the De Niro of the Midlands, Paddy Considine. He's possibly a little old for the part, but he'd still nail it. Few other actors have that complete non-ego in their roles as Paddy, or as much variety - take a pinch of Dead Man's Shoes and mix it in with the terror of his slow fade in Coldplay's "God Put A Smile" video, glaze that over with the man's uncanny knack for realism, and Bob's your auntie's live-in lover.
Now for his hopelessly drunk and casually racist only friend, Les Beale. Here's a man I'd use in everything if I could, because he's not only the perfect Beale, but I could see him easily wearing DS Donkin's shoes, too. John Henshaw's name might not mean much to people, but Brits will know him from The Cops and Early Doors, and possibly the Post Office ad he's doing at the moment. He's a Manc, which helps, and he's got that nice mixture of benevolence and potential violence which'll be great for the part.
As for the rest. I don't know enough young British actresses to cast Lucy, really. Perhaps, given two or three years, a good post-Potter role for Emma Watson? Anyone snotty and young would be fine - they don't even have to be particularly good-looking. Ahmad, the Bollywood king and target of most of Beale's bigotry, would be Sanjay Dutt, a controversial Bollywood actor who specialises mostly in the tough-guy, and who's old and haggard enough to carry off those diamonds Beale covets so much. And finally, Stevie the unfortunate Scottish croupier - I can't think of anyone I'd rather see try to lick their way out of a bin bag than James McAvoy. After The Last King Of Scotland, it's obvious the lad can do pain, and I'm sure the budget will stretch to a ginger wig. Everyone else, make 'em non-actors - keep some verisimilitude.
Director: Well, my first choice for everything now is Simon Hynd, who just finished up a startling adaptation of a startling novel (Senseless) and who I'm sure would make this just as startling. Failing that, I think if we're using the De Niro of the Midlands, we could do a lot worse than use his Scorsese, Shane Meadows (Dead Man's Shoes, This Is England). Failing that, bring back Alan Clarke (The Firm, Scum) from the dead and make him work on my movie. I'm sure he'll work cheap in exchange for a new life.
The Page 69 Test: The Big Blind.