Sunday, April 18, 2021

CULPRITS – the Heist Was Just the Beginning

Zoë Sharp

Four years ago, an email arrived from Richard J Brewer and Gary Phillips, asking me if I would be interested in contributing a short story – of sorts – to a rather unusual anthology they were putting together, entitled CULPRITS: The Heist Was Only The Beginning.

Richard and Gary had come up with the set-up and the opening chapter for a heist story. A crew is brought together to rob a rich Texas cattleman, he told me. They do the job, get the money, and then – as the subtitle suggests – things start to get interesting.


And this is where the contributors came in.


We were to choose one of the characters and let our imaginations run riot with what happens to them after the heist. Do they get away? Do they get caught? Do they keep the money? Or lose it along with their lives?


It was a fascinating idea with a great cast and opening – and an even better line-up of contributors.


How could I resist?


In fact, the exact words I used in response to Richard’s invitation were, ‘I don't need to think over your proposition. It's a terrific idea and I'm in. Hell yes.’


The jacket copy for CULPRITS runs:


Some stories are all about the crime. These stories are about the maelstrom of what happens after


A hard-bitten crew of professional thieves pull off the score of their lives, coming away with seven million in cash. Like any heist there are some unforeseen complications, and unfortunately they don’t get away without a few bodies dropping. But despite this, they get away with the swag. Seven million. Enough to change their lives, make new identities, start fresh. But that’s when the real trouble begins


In this unique, riveting, linked anthology, we follow each member of the crew of culprits as they go their separate ways after the heist, and watch as this perfect score ends up a perfect nightmare. Featuring stories penned by acclaimed writers Brett BattlesGar Anthony HaywoodZoë SharpManuel RamosJessica KayeJoe Clifford, and David Corbett, CULPRITS examines what happens next to these criminals once they take their cut and go their separate ways, only to find that the end of the heist was the beginning of their troubles.


The anthology came out from Polis Books in February of 2018 and picked up some great reviews.


As it turns out, that wasn’t all it picked up.


Yesterday, I got another of those out-of-the-blue emails that put a different perspective on your whole day. Richard wrote to us all to point us in the direction of an announcement in Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter that CULPRITS is on its way to the small screen as a series for Disney+UK.


“BAFTA-winning writer Sally Wainwright (‘Happy Valley’, ‘Gentleman Jack’), ‘Killing Eve’ producer Sally Woodward Gentle and producers Faith Penhale (‘Les Miserables’) and Stephen Garrett (‘The Night Manager’) are among the creatives behind Disney Plus’ first scripted slate out of the U.K.”



“Star Original ‘Culprits’ is a dark comedy heist series from filmmaker J Blakeson (‘I Care A Lot’, ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’). The show follows what happens after a heist, when the crew have gone their separate ways, but are being targeted by a killer one-by-one. Created and directed by Blakeson, the series is executive produced by Garrett and produced by Morenike Williams (‘Killing Eve’). Culprits is a Character 7 production.


Noting that work began on ‘Culprits’ a couple of years ago, Garrett said, “We are immensely proud that Disney Plus have decided to make it one of their platform-defining shows. The additional thrill for me is that I’m working with a writer-director at the very top of his game.”


The Heist, it seems, really was only the beginning. I’ll be watching with interest to see what they make of our efforts.


This week’s Word of the Week is scurryfunge, meaning to hastily rush round tidying the house because company is on the way over.

OK, back to the edits...


  1. Very cool. Also, scurryfunge is very funny. I'll be sharing that with Sharon, as that behavior has been a joke between us for decades. :-)

    1. Thanks, EvKa. I think there should be a variation on scurryfunge that means to tidy up before the cleaner arrives...

  2. That's super news, Zoe! I hadn't heard about the book before - did I miss a blog post? - so now the question is do I get the book and maybe spoil the series, or wait for the series, or...

    1. Thanks, Michael. It was such a fun concept. I was slow calling dibs on a character, so I ended up with the one nobody else chose. Turned out to be something of a blessing, as I would hate to have had to arm-wrestle another author to get to one of the more popular characters, only for the anthology to come out and have them think, 'Hah, I would have done that so much better...'

  3. Hurrah!! What I fabulous concept. I look forward to seeing the show!

    For now, I only wish I had a reason to scurryfunge.

    1. Thanks, Annamaria. I look forward to seeing it, also, and have no illusions the character story I wrote will bear any resemblance...

      I hear you on having an excuse to scurryfunge. But I think removing any embarrassing objects in view behind you before a Zoom conference call or TV interview ought to have a word of its own... The woman below went viral!

  4. Congratulations! Great idea and result.

    1. Thanks, Stan. It was enormous fun to be a part of.

  5. I'm so sorry on being late to the party, Zoë, but that's what comes from allowing life to distract one from checking in every day on what really counts: MIE! That is terrific news, and I can't wait to see your character steal the's a DNA thing.