Cross purpose

<p>What is the price of violence? I learned recently that a punch costs&nbsp; &pound;1,000. I was invited along by Simon &amp; Schuster to watch the filming of BBC's Luther, the brainchild of its author (and ex Pan Macmillan) Neil Cross.</p>
<p>The scene was being filmed in an incredibly cold and wet Shoreditch. Cross was cagey about the plot details but it involved a villain who leaves behind a brilliantly named Bedlam Axis at the scene of each of his (or her) crimes. The scene in question involved Luther walking up to a car, examining the axis, speaking to two policemen and walking off.</p>
<p>Despite its brevity, the scene took several hours to set up so while we waited, I sat in a nearby cafe chatting with Cross and the show's producer Katie Swinden. Swinden has worked with Cross since he wrote for BBC's Spooks and he joked about the fictional death-toll in the time they have worked together. He said: &quot;Katie once phoned me to say she felt really bad because all we seem to be doing is killing people.&quot;</p>
<p>Despite his television commitments Cross is continuing to write fiction with a Luther novel published this summer that serves as a prequel to the series.</p>
<p>He said he enjoys the freedom writing fiction gives him rather than the cost-driven limitations that television can have. He talked about one scene he wrote for TV where someone wanted to deliver an untraceable message. So the character paid a tramp to take a bus to the florist and pay for the message to be sent along with the flowers. The cost of that approximately 30 second scene? A mere &pound;25,000.</p>
<p>Cross then revealed Swinden's mantra when she reads his scripts - she tells him each punch costs the production company a mere &pound;1,000. His producer's straight-faced reaction implied she wasn't joking.</p>
<p>About an hour and a half and several coffees later, the scene was ready to&nbsp; be shot. But I couldn't help thinking; if a punch costs &pound;1,000, how much is a man walking down a street worth in TV terms? Novels seem much more cost effective.<br />