Right of reply: Maurice Gran on criticisms of his thriller Wall of Silence

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The Independent Culture
'One psychopathic Orthodox Jew . . . would have sufficed. (But) the police interview a Hasid in prison for fraud, learn that the murder victim was generous because he bailed out another fraudster, and discover yet another sect member is a bigamist.' David Cesarini, Guardian

'Against accusations of anti-Semitism, Gran, Marks and Warren Mitchell have rather ingenuously cited their own Jewishness and protested that (it) depicts the close-knit family values of the community. This is simply specious.' Thomas Sutcliffe, Independent

'The plot got too complex for me to fathom . . . But that did not in the least detract from the programme's undoubted entertainment value.' Peter Paterson, Daily Mail

'Having Hasidic Jews use martial arts to fight on the streets of north London was a preposterous idea . . . I suggest writers Marks and Gran stick to what they do best - dreaming up sexploits for Dirty Dorien in Birds of a Feather.' Daily Star

I RESPECT David Cesarini's criticism that we heated our drama with dysfunctional Hasidism, but it would be a simplistic assumption that, because people in works of fiction commit misdeeds, that's characteristic of the population. You get that reaction every time you represent a minority group.

The Standard and Independent took us to task, but the Independent was reasonably well-argued: it's good to get 'ingenuous' and 'specious' in the same paragraph. There were moments when we were working on the far edge of our knowledge, but I wanted to get beyond the idea of Jews as a homogeneous group and I think our view of the Hasidim was not inflammatory.

Peter Paterson had the humility to say he'd lost the thread but that it didn't matter: he thinks people should ring up their friends and explain it to one another, so the aftermath of a thriller is a sort of social interchange.

The Star is not a paper whose strictures on credibility I'd lose sleep over: I found the idea of Refusenik martial artists completely unbelievable too, but it's true. I'm not cut to the quick by their review, not even to the slow.

Critics' prevailing weakness is their inability to use the words 'in my opinion'. We'll probably do a sequel now, Wall of Silence II, but we haven't decided which minority group to court the aggravation of: TV critics maybe.

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