The Bridge is currently filming in Sweden and Denmark and it’s very exciting really – we’re starting to get little drips of news filtering through from the set as the show gears up for its New Year’s Day transmission day (in northern Europe and the Nordic regions, at least). The news today is that Danish actor Mikael Birkkjær – who we all know and love from shows like The Killing and Borgen – has joined the cast of series four.
Last year we brought you news of an Icelandic series – Stella Blomvist – and the fact that one of the writers on Trapped, Óskar Thór Axelsson, had been drafted in to work on the project. It was an interesting premise: Based on a series of first-person novels penned by the pseudonymous Stella Blomkvist, a hard-nosed lawyer who takes on mysterious murder cases, the series delves into the murky waters of Icelandic politics, recently in the news in the aftermath of the “Panama Papers” scandal. No English-language translation exists, but the makers – who have been touting the series at the French Series Mania TV festival – have announced that there is now a lead.
We’ve all seen how difficult it is to get prequels right – well hello Prime Suspect 1973 – but Endeavour, and specifically this year’s series four of Endeavour, often got things very right. It had that right mix of lore (in this case Morse lore), comfortable English bucolia and decent storylines and character progressions. So it’s good news that ITV said yesterday that filming has now begun on the fifth series.
Last year’s Series Mania TV festival in Fontainebleau, France looked like an intriguing weekend, full of screenings and industry-style talks and panel sessions. This year it’s back and it’s always worth looking at the program because plenty of new stuff is unveiled. It’s no difference this year, and there’s plenty of new series from the Nordic regions being debuted. Let’s take a look at what’s coming up…
Welsh-language channel, we already know, is the home of Hinterland (or Y Gwyll as its called in its original tongue). We also know that the channel has a working relationship with the BBC (Hinterland appears on both BBC Wales and BBC4 in different forms), and now the two channels have announced that they’re partnering on a new series, billed as a ‘domestic noir’.
Over three series, James Runcie’s Grantchester has become a bit of hole-filler – in recent years the cosy crime sub-genre has somewhat disappeared (although you could argue that Midsomer Murders and Death In Paradise are updated versions, and then there’s Endeavour… actually, scrap what I said about cosy crime) and Grantchester has filled things in nicely. It helps having some good acting talent to bring the seemingly innocuous tale of a vicar (James Norton) and a blunt copper (robson Green) doing the rounds in 1950s bucolic Cambridgeshire to life. Anyway, it’s back and series three is just around the corner.
A few months ago we saw the BBC’s attempt to bring to life a harrowing true-life crime story – that of the Shannon Matthews disappearance – and now ITV is getting in on the act. True crime stories are always fraught with difficulty and come with potential controversy – how do you depict things that are still so raw for a lot of people? The last time ITV did a true crime story (Jimmy Nesbitt’s excellent The Secret and Martin Compston’s In Plain Sight) the former was actually discussed in British Parliament because of an outcry from one of the victim’s family. The Moorside attracted a lot of attention, and I’m expecting ITV’s latest true crime adaptation, Little Boy Blue, to also provoke intense discussion. But at least we now know when it’s on…