David Simons anti-cop show struggled to find an audience before being lauded as a classic and making stars of Idris Elba, Michael B Jordan and others. Here, some of its writers and stars look back at a series that changed TV for ever
When, in 2001, the actor Frankie Faison accepted the role of deputy commissioner Ervin Burrell in a new HBO drama called The Wire, he thought he was signing up for a cop show. I was expecting it to be more about wiretapping, he remembers with amusement. It evolved into something much more fascinating.
HBO laboured under a similar misapprehension because The Wires creator, David Simon, had pitched the show to them as an unusually thoughtful police procedural, not an anatomy lesson in US dysfunction that he really had in mind. I sold it as a cop show, but they dont know its not really a cop show, he told the novelist George Pelecanos when he invited him to join the writing team. In fact, he said, it was something audaciously new: A novel for television.