‘He just isn’t my Frost’: Television adaptation of R.D. Wingfield’s Jack Frost.


  • Simon Statham Queen's University Belfast





This article presents an analysis of the police television series A Touch of Frost (Yorkshire Television, 1992) and the crime novels of Rodney Wingfield upon which it is based. In analysing characterisation of the protagonist of each version, Inspector Jack Frost, data is drawn from the pilot episode of the series and Wingfield’s debut novel Frost at Christmas (1984). Wingfield was less than impressed with television’s version of Frost, stating, ‘He just isn’t my Frost’. Given that a core motivation for stylistics is to ‘support initial impressions in various extracts’ readings’ and to ‘describe the readers’ response with some precision’ (Gregoriou, 2007:19), this article offers a linguistic explanation for the response of an author to the adaptation of his own work. The famously reticent Wingfield did not elaborate in detail on why he disapproved of the television version of Frost, although several critics contended that Wingfield felt television had ‘softened’ his creation. This article will analyse each version in terms of the elements of narrative outlined by Simpson and Montgomery (1995) and will in turn suggest an elaboration of this model by integrating frameworks for the analysis of impoliteness (Culpeper, 1996; 2010), examining pragmatic elements of Frost’s dialogue. In investigating whether television’s Jack Frost is ‘softer’ than the character envisaged by Wingfield free direct speech and accompanying physical behaviour in novel and television adaptation are analysed, focussing on whether the perceived softness of the latter has been partly achieved by making the speech of Frost less impolite on television.


Adaptation, characterisation, A Touch of Frost, Frost at Christmas, impoliteness, free direct speech, dialogue, television drama, crime fiction