Dr. Tony Hill
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|First appearance||The Mermaids Singing|
|Created by||Val McDermid|
|Portrayed by||Robson Green|
Dr Tony Hill is a fictional character created by Scottish crime writer Val McDermid. He is portrayed by actor Robson Green in the ITV television series Wire in the Blood based on her Tony Hill series of novels.
Dr Hill is a clinical psychologist who works as a profiler for the National Home Office, and frequently Bradfield police; he specialises in repeat violent offenders, and has come into contact with a number of serial killers throughout his turbulent career. He suffers from developmental coordination disorder and has poor social skills, stemming partly from a childhood of emotional abuse.
He is often accompanied on his investigations by the gutsy Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan, with whom he has a complicated relationship that takes on a personal as well as professional capacity. However, he avoids entering into a romantic relationship with her, though he is devastated when she eventually leaves Bradfield. He eventually becomes close with her successor, Detective Inspector Alex Fielding, but again resists a romantic relationship.
He is occasionally implied as having a difficult relationship with his mother, an emotionally detached businesswoman who bore her son while she was still young and unmarried, at a time when such a thing was considered scandalous. It is also revealed in Beneath The Bleeding that his grandmother used to shut him in a cupboard for long periods of time whenever he irritated her or did something wrong. Additionally, both his mother and grandmother used beatings as punishment for unintended childhood misdemeanors - when really, it appears that his grandmother's exception could be attributed to Tony's birth out of wedlock rather than justifiable instances of wrongdoing, and his mother resented his presence in her life. As a result he can't stand arguing, having once said that it reminds him of being a child ("the grown-ups are shouting and it must be my fault").
Tony also has a history of poor physical health. In one episode he is diagnosed with an intracranial meningioma, which he eventually has removed. This caused him to become irritable, hallucinatory and disorganised, despite being aware of the distinction between his new personality disturbances and his previous self. At one point he sarcastically asks Jordan, "Do you want nice Tony back?"
His skill at profiling is attributed to his capacity to empathize with the criminals he pursues, something which has been commented on multiple times as hazardous to his sanity. Often he will make shrewd observations about a crime or person without thinking, which tends to cause embarrassment or (in some cases) outrage. His thought processes tend to dominate his life, to the point that he is blissfully ignorant of everyday details such as tucking in his shirt, turning off his car's headlights, etc. These eccentricities endear him to some (Carol Jordan in particular) while alienating him from others.
Tony tends to solve his cases using a mix of role-play, first person analysis and intuition. This approach often unsettles those around him and in the TV series, it isn't until Carol realises his worth in a practical setting that Bradfield CID embraces his ongoing assistance. Within the novels, Tony has an established professional standing that earns him a place at the head of the National Profiling Task Force after he conducted the feasibility study that resulted in its formation.
In the TV series, Tony has admitted to having aspergers syndrome as well as being socially inept. He draws his satisfaction in life from analysing and understanding damaged minds, something that he often fears has affected him deeply - an affliction he refers to in the novels as his attempts at "passing for human." There are numerous references in both TV and book canon to the spectre of his past and how he fears it leaves little distinction between him and the psychopaths he profiles. It appears that many of his ongoing issues and feelings of inadequacy can be traced to the negativity of his childhood and his early sexual experiences.
Tony often experiences vivid visions of the murdered victims during his cases, which he usually ignores, or at least never brings up when he sees them while surrounded by other people. Both in the books and the TV series. Tony is also seen talking to these visions in an attempt to understand the crimes, and sometimes is even seen acting out the murders in his mind, anything from imagining stabbing a housewife to death in Sharp Compassion to beating and shooting a young man in the head in From the Defeated. The question as to whether this is evidence of Tony's holistic genius in trying to understand the killer's motive or rather a more sinister psychological disturbance in his mind is left open to debate.
The first episode of the television series, The Mermaids Singing, was broadcast on 14 November 2002, and co-starred Hermione Norris as Carol Jordan. She stayed in the role up until series 4, when her character was replaced with D.I. Alex Fielding, an equally tough, ambitious single mother played by Simone Lahbib.
- The Mermaids Singing (1995)
- The Wire in the Blood (1997)
- The Last Temptation (2002)
- The Torment of Others (2004)
- Beneath the Bleeding (2007)
- Fever of the Bone (2009)
- The Retribution (2011)
- Cross and Burn (2013)
- "Splinter the Silence" (2015)