Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's fictional dark side brought to life with walking tour

Walking tour to visit film, literary and TV locations

By Claire McNeilly

The best-selling author Lee Child once described Belfast as "the most noir place on earth".

And now a local crime writer is planning to prove that by starting a walking tour which explores the city's influence on some of the darker elements of television and movie drama.

Simon Maltman believes Northern Ireland is right up there with Scandinavia when it comes to compelling detective series.

While Copenhagen and Malmo have provided brooding settings for the likes of The Bridge and The Killing, Belfast has done something similar with The Fall and Line of Duty, among others.

But although the locations for those popular shows have become familiar to millions of viewers, and have added to the attractiveness of Belfast and elsewhere to tourists, there hasn't been a tour dedicated to fans keen on seeing where the often gruesome action takes place.

Simon (36) is keen to change all that.

He wants to introduce the bizarre and 'noir' elements of the city stalked by Jamie Dornan's frightening character, the serial killer Paul Spector, in four series of Alan Cubitt's award-winning The Fall, and patrolled by Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and his AC-12 colleagues in Line of Duty.

Key topics on the new tour also include Game of Thrones, the classic 1947 Belfast-based movie Odd Man Out starring James Mason, popular Bangor-born author and screenwriter Colin Bateman and the local 'noir' literature scene which has made the likes of Stuart Neville global best-selling authors.

Simon, who has two daughters - Eve (five) and Lilah (two) - with history teacher wife Anna (36), said it is exciting to finally get the Belfast noir project off the ground.

"As a crime fiction fan I was surprised that there is no tour running about screen and books, particularly around the crime genre area and locally shot programmes such as The Fall, Line of Duty and Odd Man Out," he said.

"Being a fan of local writers, I also thought it a shame that there wasn't more around literature either. There are Game of Thrones tours, but that's about it, so I took my idea to Belfast Hidden Tours."

The bespoke company and the Bangor author have been collaborating over the last six months to fine tune the new tour, which launched recently and is running all summer - every Friday and Saturday at both 12pm and 2pm.

Conor Owens of Belfast Hidden Tours has said he is looking forward to the joint venture.

"I had noticed a niche market for a film, TV and literature tour and when I met Simon, who was keen to do something similar, it was a no-brainer," he said.

"We have been planning this specific tour for ages, so we're now really looking forward to introducing it to the public and tourists.

"Both of us are very flexible and creative, so we look forward to developing the new 'Belfast Noir' brand."

The tour also includes two free 'Ulster Noir' ebooks that have been Amazon bestsellers and are part of the Northern Ireland collection housed in Linen Hall Library.

It costs £10 per person - with group discount available - and lasts approximately 90 minutes.

Stops include City Hall, the Ulster Hall, Crown Bar, Europa, BBC, Queen's, Botanic and No Alibis book shop.

Incidentally, the phenomenal 'Jack Reacher' series author Lee Child's real name is Jim Grant - the Coventry-born son of a native of Belfast's legendary Cyprus Avenue and no stranger to the city and its 'noir' side.

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