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 by Rodney Wingfield upon
which it is based. In order to analyse the way the protagonist, Inspector Jack Frost, is
characterised in either version, 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’. The rationale for this
article is to apply established models in stylistics to investigate the differences between
the original and the adaptation. 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 therefore offers a close linguistic
explanation for an author’s dissatisfaction with 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 observed that Wingfield felt television
had ‘softened’ his creation. This article contends that ‘softness’ is represented in
language through politeness strategies adopted by speakers whilst impoliteness
represents the ‘tougher’ speech of Wingfield’s original iteration of Jack Frost. In order to
demonstrate this contention, this study will analyse pragmatic elements of the dialogue
of both novel and television versions of Frost through the analytical framework for
impoliteness developed by Culpeper (1996; 2010). This framework will be integrated
into the model for analysing the elements of narrative outlined by Simpson and
Montgomery (1995), in turn suggesting an elaboration of this model. 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.

Published: 2019-08-26