BBC4 lines up a double helping of Swedes for 2012: Sebastian Bergman and The Bridge

While fruitlessly browsing BBC press releases for the start date of The Killing 2, I came across an interesting bit of news: two Swedish crime series (with Danish and German input) have been acquired by BBC4, and will air in 2012.

The press release describes them as follows:

The Bridge, a 10-part investigative crime drama, begins when the body of a woman is found in the middle of the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. A bi-national team is put together to solve the crime and the killer, always one step ahead of the police, becomes the object of a dramatic manhunt. The Bridge is a Danish/Swedish co-production.


Sebastian Bergman, a compelling new police thriller, stars Rolf Lassgård, one of Scandinavia’s most popular actors [the ‘first’ Wallander] in a powerful new role as profiler Sebastian Bergman.

Strong-headed, politically incorrect, abrasive and grief-stricken, Bergman has still not come to terms with the loss of his wife and daughter in the 2004 Thailand tsunami. In the first of the two thrillers, he helps police in his hometown solve the murder of a 15-year-old boy. In the second, he attempts to catch a serial killer who seems to be modeling his attacks on those of a jailed killer whom Bergman put behind bars himself.”

There’s a trailer available of Sebastian Bergman on ZDF Enterprises’ English-language website. It’s pretty dreadful (cheesy voiceover, gratuitous violence and pompous movie-trailer music).

I fervently hope that the programmes are better than the trailer suggests. I like Rolf Lassgård as an actor, and it would be a shame if he ended up in something sub-standard. The project has the same film-makers behind it as the Wallander film cycle, and expectations will be high.

UPDATE: The start date for Sebastian Bergman has now been confirmed in The Radio Times as Saturday 26 May 2012, 9pm.

My review of Episode 1 is now available here.

For the love of God, someone turn that music OFF!

32 thoughts on “BBC4 lines up a double helping of Swedes for 2012: Sebastian Bergman and The Bridge

  1. As a Scandinavian not terribly fond of Scandinavian drama series, I none the less thoroughly enjoyed “The Bridge” (last episode aired on Danish TV yesterday evening).

  2. I have it on DVD… absolutely Fantastic!!!!! I suppose
    Lars doesn’t like for the same reason as a lot of Dutch people don’t like their own crime series. Somehow they feel if it is not in English its not good enough. But I tell you it is certainly a lot better then most American crap.

  3. Oh good! The more I hear about The Bridge, the more I like the sound of it. Definitely a series that I’ll be looking forward to, and Lars did make an exception for it as well – he says he ‘thoroughly enjoyed it’ :).

  4. I wish BBC4 would begin showing these dramas sooner rather than later. As much as I like Inspector Montalbano, I’m not sure I could eat a whole series.

    • Montalbano cannot be compared to the ‘Scandi Dramas’. I don’t really understand why people keep trying to do this? It’s in a league of it’s own! In a very different sort of way, Montalbano is wonderful! I loved every episode of the ten that were recently shown on BBC four, and look forward to the next ten. It’s a breath of fresh air, a sunny ‘tongue in cheek’ glimpse of Sicily. I love to visit places that I see in series I enjoy, and am off to Sicily in October, I bet Montalbano has done wonders for tourism there. Sadly, after watching The Bridge, which was fantastic, I won’t be booking a visit to Copenhagen.

  5. I’ve watched the Bridge (with somewhat wonky English subtitles, alas) and it is indeed excellent – another superior Scandinavian production (along with Borgen, Forbrydelsen, Wallander, etc.) that puts most English-languge mini-series to shame!

  6. Montalbano is just not in the same league as these Scandinavian Dramas of which I can’t get enough of..Wallander,The Killing,Borgen,The Bridge and last but not least the outstanding Millennium Trilogy,nothing out there compares to all of these ,would love to know of any more !!!!!

    • Ooh, a bold statement (you may have some Montalbano-lovers on your case). I haven’t yet seen enough to judge, but as a previous comment above diplomatically argues, the Italian and Nordic productions are very different beasts.

    • …..LOL
      That’s my first reaction to the comparison between Montalbano and Scandinavian Dramas. Setting, acting, style, photography, background (books etc.)… every single thing is different. They are just two different ways to film dramas. I wouldn’t compare them. Then, you can like both, one or the other. This is a subjective choice.

      • You may well be right: you just have to switch the dial to the right setting (Nordic / Med), before sitting down to enjoy. Fun trying to compare sometimes though!

      • I definitely agree with you.
        Also, I had always watched Montalbano without subtitles until BBC aired it. Part of what makes the series unique is the fact that the stories take place in Sicily and the culture and dialect are very important to understand why things happen in a certain way. I think the subtitles were good enough, the correct meaning of each sentence was there. But the ‘colour’, the uniqueness, was lost.
        If I want to compare with Scandinavian Dramas, you do hear accents there as well, although not very often. Someone from Skåne doesn’t sound exactly like someone from Stockholm or even further north. But rarely do accents play a vital role and, at least in Sweden, actors usually speak in ‘standard Swedish’.
        In Montalbano, the dialect (not simply the accent) is vital. I imagine the books can be hard to read even for Italians, because they feature expressions and words that are completely different from ‘standard Italian’ and belong only to the Sicilian dialect.
        Then, I assume that this detail about languages and their importance in the script could influence the review of someone who is relying only on subtitles to understand the films.
        Just my impromptu thoughts… 🙂

      • Thanks, Sara – this is a fascinating point. I knew that the Montalbano books were set in Sicily, but didn’t realise quite how regional their use of language was. So not only do you have the normal problems of translating / subtitling one language to another, but all the complexities of a regional accent and expressions as well! All those standard issues when translating (such as how to capture humour / irony / sarcasm) must be magnified, and as you say, many of the more subtle cultural references will be lost. But it’s lovely nonetheless for the non-speaker to hear the language (at least for this one) – a certain amount of the ‘colour’ you mention is communicated simply through the energy and rhythms of speech.

        Do you speak Italian *and* Swedish?!

      • Ehrm… yes 🙂 I am a native Italian speaker, though I live in the UK at the moment (long story) and I speak a little Swedish.
        I had written a nice little paragraph in response to your comment, then the internet connection “poofed” and I lost it. Grrrr… Well, good thing maybe, because it was a bit long haha!
        One point was: Catarella is a very peculiar character. His lines are in ungrammatical Sicilian and he has a very strong accent. Some words in Sicilian do not exist in Italian and are not even similar to anything in Italian. The English subtitles are, well, in English. They are not ungrammatical, no accent of course, and not even slang (which slang would apply, anyway?). Then… where’s Catarella?
        In Swedish films, actors may have an accent but they all speak standard Swedish. Then, are the two works comparable? I’d compare the photography, direction, acting (physical) but language is such an important factor in one series, while slightly secondary in the other one.
        Bottom line… I love both. ha! 😀
        PS: incidentally, Luca Zingaretti is not Sicilian but you wouldn’t tell from watching him play Montalbano.

      • Oooh, trilingual – fantastic!

        Thanks for your comment (and sorry that your first one was eaten). Catarella: in the books, if I remember rightly, the translator (the excellent Stephen Sartarelli), does try to give a sense of the character’s linguistic uniqueness (though there’s clearly a limit to what he can do in this respect). Sartarelli also provides very interesting endnotes, which explain various terms / cultural, political, historical points, and are very useful for those who don’t have extensive knowledge of Italy or Sicily. These add significant depth to the translation and readers really appear to like them.

      • Actually, I’m also fluent in French and Spanish (another long story) *hangs head in shame* lol
        I have to confess that I haven’t read the books in English, but I am very happy that the translator added footnotes. Those certainly help the reader. Shame subtitles have no footnotes 😛

      • Brilliant! I’m not even sure there’s a proper word for speaking 5 languages: quintlingual? Ah, you put us Brits to shame… I’m bilingual and was feeling quite smug about that until now.

      • LOL! Don’t worry, we still love you 😀
        I think the term is polyglot. Bilingual = 2, Trilingual = 3… then Polyglot (Greek origin) or Multilingual (Latin origin). Go figure that I started learning Swedish just “for fun”. I’m crazy like that… 😛

      • You obviously have a gift for language learning as well. I think your next one should be a toughie like Arabic or Mandarin!

      • I was thinking of either Japanese or Russian as I have 2 friends from those countries. But I still have the “fear” of the different script 😉 No, seriously… I think I’ll have to finish my PhD (in something completely unrelated) before thinking of starting to learn another random language LOL
        I think you need to write another post on something more “on (blog) topic” to keep me on track, because I’m dangerously digressing, oops! 😦

      • Good luck with the PhD – have travelled down that road myself and know how tough it can be!

        The house rules permit the odd digression, by the way 🙂

  7. Pingback: Saturday treats: Sebastian Bergman / CWA International Dagger / Israeli crime fiction | Mrs. Peabody Investigates

  8. Pingback: Sebastian Bergman: Review of Episode 1 | Mrs. Peabody Investigates

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