International crime drama news from BBC4: Dahl, De Luca, Young Montalbano, The Bridge 2 and more!

I’ve just seen the following on a BBC4 press release and couldn’t resist reporting IMMEDIATELY.

>> BBC Four has announced two exciting additions to an outstanding new year of international drama and film on the Channel: Swedish crime series Arne Dahl and Italian series Inspector Da Luca.

Arne Dahl (a pseudonym of award-winning author Jan Arnald) is based on five of Dahl’s novels, beginning with The Blinded Man. The series revolves around a tight-knit team of elite specialists who investigate the dark side of Swedish society. It is produced by Filmlance International and written by Rolf Börjlind and Cecilia Börjlind.

Inspector De Luca is made by Ager 3/Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana. A four-part crime series based on the novels by Carlo Lucarelli, it is set in and around Bologna during the tumultuous years of Mussolini’s dictatorship. Inspector De Luca is an investigator whose brutal honesty and uncompromising character may help him solve cases, but combined with his love of women, they also conspire to get him in trouble…

Other crime drama and film highlights in 2013 include:

Young Montalbano. Set in the early 1990s and starring Michele Riondino in the title role, Young Montalbano gives an insight into the private life and early crime-fighting career of the idiosyncratic Sicilian detective. This prequel series, also written by Andrea Camilleri, was recently shown to critical acclaim in Italy. (See here for details of the start date of this series.)

The Bridge, Series 2. A rusty old coaster en route in the Öresund sound suddenly veers off course and rams the concrete foundations laid out to protect the Öresund Bridge. The ship is empty – or so it is believed until five people are found chained, cold and exhausted below deck. The unknown victims, of whom three are Swedish and two Danish, are brought to a hospital in Malmö. Without hesitation, Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) from Malmö CID contacts her Danish colleague, Martin Rhode (Kim Bodnia) and their new investigation begins.

Inspector Montalbano. The popular Sicilian detective makes a welcome return in four brand new episodes.

The King Of Devil’s Island. Based on a true story, The King of Devil’s Island tells the unsettling tale of a group of young delinquents banished to the remote prison of Bastøy in Norway. Under the guise of rehabilitation the boys suffer a gruelling daily regime at the hands of their wardens until the arrival of new boys Erling and Ivar spark a chain of events that ultimately ignite rebellion.

Point Blank. In this action-packed French thriller, Samuel Pierret is a nurse who saves the life of a criminal whose gang then take Samuel’s pregnant wife hostage to force him to help their boss escape. A race through the subways and streets of Paris ensues. As the body count rises, Samuel must evade the cops and the criminal underground to rescue his wife <<

I’m so excited I can hardly breathe. Though I’m not sure how to break the news to my family that the telly will be off-limits for most Saturday nights this year.

For the full press release see here (contains info about series 3 of BORGEN as well). There’s also a very atmospheric trailer of all the international drama coming up.


63 thoughts on “International crime drama news from BBC4: Dahl, De Luca, Young Montalbano, The Bridge 2 and more!

  1. Good for you guys over there! But what about those of us across the pond? We want to see these shows, too. Who do we ask? How should we bring this to BBC4’s notice?
    I’m addicted to The Young Montalbano series. Michele Riondino: Be still my heart. They’re at the local library. But the rest are not.
    I’ll have to hide my credit card and stay away from MHZ Networks — which sells some of these shows on dvd — or I’ll enter bankruptcy quickly.

    • I know, I know. I always feel slightly guilty about the riches BBC4 are bringing us here in the UK, although you do seem to have got your hands on The Young Montalbano before us…

      It might be worth contacting BBC4 to ask whether there is a way of accessing its programmes in the States. If not, maybe it’ll consider doing so in future. The powers that be may not realise that they have a U.S. market out there that could be tapped.

  2. What an embarassment of riches!! don’t know where to start! Can’t wait to see Bridge 2, love Saga she is soo cool. My mother will no doubt love Young Montalbano, she has a thing for Regular Montalbano ..Point Blank sounds good too – I am currently, very slowly, working my way through Spiral 4 which I am loving, so French, so bonkers, how to fit real life in among all this?

    • Yes indeed! I’m feeling ready for another dose of Saga and Martin too. I agree that time is a big problem; I wish I could put the rest of my life into stasis while I watch or read crime – that’d be really helpful.

      Enjoy the rest of Spiral 🙂

  3. Thanks for the heads up Mrs P, and well done to BBC4 for bringing more brilliant international crime to our Saturday nights. It all looks fantastic, and I’m really excited. We just need the final series of the Swedish Wallander to be shown when it’s ready, then Saturday evenings will be off limits. It’ll just be me and my TV. Joy!!

    • I agree, Kathy – well done to BBC4, who are on to a real winner with their international drama. It’s rapidly becoming the channel’s USP and I bet the benefit is huge. Thanks for reminding me about the final Swedish series of Wallander – I must hunt around to see if there’s any sign of it travelling over here.

      • Morning Mrs P. Re Wallander, I read a newspaper article last September I think. A reporter was interviewing Krister Henricksson in Ystad whilst he was actually filming the final series. So it could be a while yet I suppose before we get it here. Hoo roo.

      • Thanks, Kathy – I’ll keep an eye out. See also below for a link to the film of The Troubled Man. So a film and a TV series?

      • Thanks Mrs P. If the film of The Troubled Man is as good as the book (which looking at the clip it seems as though it will) I shall be well pleased. I must admit to a bit of a blubber whilst reading the final paragraph which is unlike me. Certainly for me Wallander was one of the best. Hoo roo.

      • Oh, me too, Kathy: complete blubfest. I wonder how they’ll handle this in the film? Tissues at the ready…

  4. Really excited about the Inspector De Luca, having read the books, nearly bought the DVD’s, glad I didn’t! So good old 4 doesit again! The Swedish ones sound very interesting, have to say have got very bored with the latter Montalbano, books & TV, fell a sleep during the penultimate one, plot was really obvious. Does the Early… etc mean we might get the the famous last book?
    Point blank, is that a film, seems to remind me of a French film.

    • Like you, Brian, I’m really keen to see the de Luca. I’ve read one of the books, so this will be a good excuse to get hold of the others. It’ll be so interesting to see how de Luca and his relation to the Mussolini regime are depicted.

      Just to confirm – Point Blank is indeed a film.

  5. Waiting to see these new programmes and also the young Montalbano but I must say that I was suitably impressed with Inspector Montalbano – what a man, casual, smart, kind, sincere, a bit of a devil and what about the sheer enjoyment of watching him eating and drinking. Boy was I envious.

    • I’m guessing there are quite a few men out there who feel the same, John 😉 I’m mainly envious of him living in such a wonderful climate – but not forgetting the food and wine too.

    • Bliss indeed, Chrissie. iPlayer is a handy back-up, you’re right, but I do prefer the sofa with a nice glass of wine. Luckily the family are quite well trained in this respect 🙂

    • Absolutely. It’s going to be tough juggling Petrona judging duties with all of these lovelies around…

    • I know what you mean, but firmly believe there are worse things we could be doing (like pub-crawling on a Saturday night)! Too old for that malarky now!

  6. A Swedish website called (sorry, I don’t have the link) has a trailer for the new Wallander which is due for cinematic release. It looks suitably cinematic and features the new actress who plays Linda Wallander. I literally cannot wait to see this…….

  7. Can’t wait to see it as well Azimov. I had a quick shufty at and it seems the DVD will be available in Sweded late summer. So I guess we’ll just have to hope dear old BBC4 nabs the series for us ASAP.

  8. Any of these new programmes available on iPlayer? Did a quick search but couldn’t find anything. I’m hanging out for some more Danish thrillers and of course Inspector Montalbano………. I live a long long way from Blighty

    • Hi John – I think I’m right in saying that none of these programmes will appear on iPlayer until *after* they have aired on TV. Have you accessed iPlayer from where you live before? I don’t know much about how international access to iPlayer works…

  9. I can’t wait to think of what you and others think of De Luca. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how a decent person can exist within the state apparatus of a fascist regime. Well, that’s just me. I can’t fathom it. Does he ignore orders? What about Jewish residents, how they’re treated? Does he go along, ignore or try to help? Oh, but the mind boggles on this puzzler.

    • Thanks, Kathy. I think you’ve put your finger on it: positioning a police investigator within a fascist system allows the crime novelist to explore the kinds of opportunities and limitations that were open to individuals, and the moral implications of the choices that they made. Doing so is a risky enterprise for the author though – it would be very easy to get it wrong.

      Some of my academic work has explored the depiction of ‘Nazi detectives’ – these start to appear in crime novels from the 1990s onwards, and their narrative functions / significance are very interesting to compare and contrast.

      • I am at this moment reading the latest little ‘joy’ from Phillip Kerr about Bernie Gunther who worked as a criminal detective, hotel detective and a war crimes investigator in Berlin during the Nazi era and had to walk on the side of caution to stay alive. A difficult job as you can imagine. Great reads for anyone who is trying to understand individuals during that terrible period in history.

    • Thanks, John. Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series is extremely interesting in this respect, I agree. My ‘Nazi detectives’ journal article examines the second of the BG novels – The Pale Criminal – which sees Bernie rejoin the police force under the Nazis, and explores the moral dilemmas that he faces in the course of the investigation. For info, the abstract is here:

  10. And The Bridge, series 2, as described here fascinates me. Drat my library system, barely buys any international dvds. So lucky to have The Young Montalbano, but it doesn’t have the middle-aged curmudgeon we know and like on dvd.

    • Have you seen The Bridge 1, Kathy? And are your librarians open to recommendations? Perhaps you could lobby them!

  11. I have lobbied my library system, and sending in requests for years now. I can try to push to some of these dvd’s. I have not seen The Bridge, series 1. I also want to see Borgen.
    On the De Luca series, I am puzzled by this concept. What does a cop do in a fascist regime if he sees Jewish people or others rounded up to be deported? Does he pretend not to see that? Ignore it? Try to help behind-the-scenes?
    I think we’ve discussed moral obligations of decent people in a fascist regime but this really challenges me. I’ll be glad to read your commentary after you (and others) see this series.

    • Hi Kathy – I heartily recommend Borgen – a wonderful, wonderful series.

      And as for the De Luca: sometimes in this kind of novel you see a subversion of the detective figure as a force for good. In some cases the lead investigator / protagonist is even a perpetrator, with the author using the crime narrative primarily to probe the motivations of those who went along with or actively supported fascist regimes. One example is this novel: Birkefeld and Hachmeister’s Wer uebrig bleibt hat recht (Germany, 2002). Here’s a link to the cover, which immediately signals the investigator’s compromised status:

  12. Hi Kathy, I so agree with Mrs P, Borgen is absolutely brilliant. It gives you an idea of what may really go on in governments around the world!…..

  13. These discussions are so good on ethics and moral values. I’m kind of an all-or-nothing reader. If a protagonist does the right thing in a dictatorship, fine. If he evades doing anything one way or the other, don’t know. If he does the wrong thing and is a perpetrator, not for me to read.
    I remember giving a book to a friend which I couldn’t read. It was about a fascist cop in Spain. He was disgusted, too. Our moral compasses just take over.
    I wish I had access to these dvd’s, may actually break down and buy Borgen.

    • Thanks, Kathy – I totally understand regarding reading choices and reactions. There are some crime novels that I can’t bring myself to read too. I’m sure that’s the case for all readers.

      I can also understand the temptation to get Borgen! It really is outstanding, and Birgitte is one of my all-time favourite characters.

      • Borgen is indeed great. (And I think Birgitte is more popular than the actual PM!)

        On De Luca, I seem to recall that the books are set in 1945 and the aftermath, which made it a little easier for me to swallow. I’m not sure I’d read or watch something set in 1941, to be honest, if the hero wasn’t in the resistance or similar.

        (In a German series I’m reading at the moment, we’ve hit 1932, and I think Volker Kutscher is going to keep going until 1936. I don’t think I could keep reading with any sympathy beyond that, so I’ll be interested to see how it ends. There’s the fundamental problem that the *right* solution in most of these cases for me as reader is historically the most inaccurate. There weren’t hordes of morally upright refugee policemen.)

        On the other hand, even my reading morality is more flexible than I’d thought. Robert Wilson’s “A Small Death in Lisbon” is a case in point. On the one hand, war/dictatorship baddies get a comeuppance of sorts. On the other, I was actually left wondering if this was right. (It’s hard to say more without spoilers.)

        In any case, as you’ve said, we all have novels we choose not to read. It’s interesting to see where other people draw the line, and why!

      • Thanks, Lauren. I’ve just checked Carte Blanche, and yes, it’s set in 1945. Is that the Kommissar Rath series that you’re reading by Kutscher? I remember seeing these when last in Berlin and noting them down on my TBR list. I see that they have a very high rating on – would you recommend? Another potential for my ‘Nazi detective’ pile.

        I like the idea that we all have a ‘reading morality’, though I reckon that authors can also influence or shape our moral reactions to the story they tell quite significantly (by inviting us to identify with some characters and not others, for example).

        I always admire authors willing to go into this dangerous sort of historical territory – very difficult to pull off!

  14. Guess what’s on this Saturday on 4, The Silence! since buying the DVD I’ve come across it in Nottm Central library, & now it’s on 4! I did watch, & enjoyed it, although I did have some reservations about the portrayal of Kimmo.. Be interested to hear what you think of it.

    On the De Luca issue, in the first book the author describes a policeman he met who De Luca is based on, the guy is not a fascist , he’s a survivor, it’s his expertise that all the various regimes of whatever political persuasion, including anti fascist, use. So yes it is about Moral ambiguity. Lets face it if you no anything of 20 century Italian history, all this comes as no surprise!
    I do recommend the books, they aren’t long reads quite short in fact, the 3 I have the art work is excellent.

    • Thanks for letting us know, Brian. Like you I have a copy of Silence on DVD (but haven’t seen it yet). It’d be ironic if I catch it first on TV after all! Sarah from Crimepieces has seen it and said that it was bleaker than the book. Will have to see what kind of mood I’m in on Saturday night!

      Commissario De Luca – it’ll be so interesting to see how they navigate the issue of his morality. Because surely at some point the ‘survivor’ working under a fascist regime and serving its aims has to be viewed as a ‘fascist’? Lucarelli says in his introduction to Carte Blanche that the policeman he interviewed regarded himself as ‘a technician, a professional’ (in other words as non-political), but that he, Lucarelli, had thought to himself ‘that there are moments in the life of a country in which the technicians and professionals are also asked to account for their political choices and non-choices’…(so saying you’re not political is not enough). It’s a terribly murky moral area…

      I’ve read the first of the books (yes – wonderful artwork), but a long time ago, so will have to refresh my memory before watching the series. Looking forward to it very much.

  15. Seems like the only things missing are the Irene Huss films! (Oh, and has the series based on Anna Jansson’s Maria Wern novels aired in the UK?)

    All of the series do raise the interesting question of whether to watch and then read, read and then watch, or watch in the knowledge that the book could take five years to be translated into English, or never make it at all. I enjoyed the Dahl series a lot, but they really are book adaptions, with all that entails – certainly a spoiler for the books. (Not to mention that certain elements taken directly really don’t work as well on screen as on the page. The line between deeply metaphorical and unbearably cheesy is thinner than you’d think!) I’m curious as to what others think about this.

    The Huss series diverges from the book plots rather more, at times, particularly because several characters aren’t there. (I miss Hannu! And Frederik comes across as more of a ninny than absolutely necessary, I think.) However, I find this works rather well at times – a lot of the things that got chopped were things I’d found rather dubious first time around. Krister is a lot more human (and the actor’s really quite good looking, as a pleasant sideline!), and more importantly for me, a lot of the rather peculiar anti-feminism that caused me serious irritation in some of the recent, not-yet-in-English novels (one plot element actually made me genuinely angry) has gone. Not ground-breaking TV, but pleasant – if that’s the right word for gory murder investigations!

    (It’s also fun to play “watch the overlapping cast”. The Dahl series gets bonus points for using actors I’d almost never seen before.)

    Must learn to be more concise…

    • Thanks again, Lauren! It’s great to have an insider who can give us all the low-down! The Irene Huss films and Jansson’s Wern series are indeed still outstanding, but it’s always good to have something in reserve.

      I think my preference would always be to read the novel first where possible, but if it’s a question of waiting years for a book to make it into publication, then I’ll happily watch. I plan to read more of Dahl’s novels before watching the series (I can access these in German if they’re not out in English). It’ll be interesting to see what the UK publication strategy is here (novel and TV tie-in?).

      Hmmm – surprised to hear that there’s a slightly dodgy gender element to some of Huss’s writing. Will keep an eye out for that…

      Thanks again for the overview 🙂

  16. I think I already commented on twitter to you but I will say it again, I am so excited about The Bridge series 2 because I loved the first series! Can’t wait for more of Saga and Martin! I might try to get hold of the first Arne Dahl book if I get chance, I haven’t read any of those. Lots of good stuff coming up.

    • Me too, Lindsay. I loved its offbeat feel and Martin and Saga’s double-act. I started Dahl’s The Blinded Man ages ago, but need to restart and give it a proper go. SO much good stuff coming up – aren’t we lucky?

  17. I agree with Lauren on wanting to read books set during WWII if the protagonist was in the Resistance. Otherwise, too many moral problems. If Jews or Roma or other people or labor union organizers or gay people are being deported, what does an employee of a fascist state do? Go out for a lunch break and try to ignore it? Try to find a way to help them behind-the-scenes? To ignore it, in my view, is to collaborate. To go along is the “I was just following orders” mentality, not acceptable as an excuse after the horrific WWII experience. As was said above, there weren’t too many morally upright policemen.

    I perhaps should read A Small Case in Lisbon, although I don’t really like to read about the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and related WWII episodes.– yet, this book has intrigued me.

    And, on the moral compass issue, I don’t want an author to sway me to be “sympathetic” to a reprehensible character. That’s when I put the book down and read a Donna Leon or Montalbano or light, fun books with wit. That’s a reason I don’t want to read “The Reader,” but we’ve had that discussion before. And I’m still waiting for The Collini Case at this library.

    And I’m surprised to hear of anti-feminist tones to some Irene Huss books. Haven’t noticed that, but I’ll be alert to this in future books.

    • Thanks, Kathy. I completely understand and respect your position. Out of interest, are there some WWII crime novels that you particularly rate? Or is this a historical period that you’d rather not see explored in crime fiction?

  18. I think I’ve written on your blog, probably too often, or on other blogs, that I really don’t read books set during WWII. If I did, I’d start with Rebecca Cantrell’s, which fascinate me as there’s a woman protagonist and the author delves into subjects that interest me, like the 1936 Olympics.
    But as someone whose maternal relatives fled anti-Semitic pogroms in czarist-occupied Poland in the early 1900s, and who knew about the Holocaust as a young age, it’s too hard to read about this period. Neighbors and the parents of a good friend — we were 5 — had come from Europe; they had been in camps. Her mother was gaunt, sad, almost immobile — and she had numbers on her arm. I knew at 5 why.this incredibly kind woman was so down. I also have friends whose parents fled Germany in the 1930s and they are very sensitive about the war and it’s not “entertaining” for them to read about it. Nor is it for me. So it’s very personal and all I really want to see in movies is those where Nazis are being eliminated by Resistance forces, not their well-known atrocities.

  19. And I don’t want to read about moral ambiguities about behavior in the war. So many people, regular people, farmers, workers, artists, musicians, writers, etc., did brave things to save people. I hear of more and more stories of people who took a stand in a modest way, doing a small gesture to help, to be humane. So people and characters who went along or “ignored” the atrocities — I have no patience with them. It’s important to be moral as far as treatment of other human beings. It’s a basic obligation as a human being to be good to others.

    • Absolutely. Thanks for taking the time to comment and explain, Kathy – much appreciated as ever. I do understand your point of view, and agree with you that writing about that period of history as ‘entertainment’ is extremely problematic. As you probably know, I have an academic interest in this area. One of the things I explore is the way that writers (including Jewish writers) have used the crime novel to educate readers about the Nazi period and the Holocaust. In that way, the genre can be harnessed to productive rather than exploitative ends; it can be used to communicate valuable historical information to a mass-readership, and in some cases, functions as a means of remembering or memorialising the victims of fascism.

  20. I understand your interest and goals here to help educate people about the horrors of the Holocaust and fascism. It is true that fiction, including crime fiction can educate readers. So can movies and television. And I can see that books and movies as well as art and other cultural expressions can be used to remember or memorialize the victims of fascism. Yes, culture is educational. Today, often movies and television are the means to educate people. And if fiction, including crime fiction can do it, fine.
    Art, too, as in Picasso’s Guernica can show the horrors of fascism and war.
    Sports can even do it. I saw a news story that a soccer play who gave a fascist salute — and a Brazilian teammate of his gave him a dirty look — was banned from soccer for life. Now, that’s a good lesson and shows how principles can be promoted even in sports. (However, I wish someone would do something about the fans in Milan who booed a Ghanian-German player, although his team walked off the field with him.)
    Anyway, education in whatever ways it can be done is a good thing.

    • Yes, I totally agree with you. My view is that crime fiction has two big advantages in that kind of educational context. It’s a genre that already deals with the big themes of criminality and justice, and so is extremely suited to exploring (and critiquing) the activities of a criminal regime. It’s clearly also a hugely popular form of literature, and can therefore reach a truly mass audience – much larger than the kind of audience that reads historical studies. I might do a post on this at some point, to flag up some of the best ‘educational’ crime novels on the period. Thanks very much for the thought-provoking discussion, Kathy!

    • I agree with much of what has been said and written. Education is a wonderful thing and it takes comes in all shapes and sizes. I say to my Chinese students that one never stops learning but of course whether we take it all in, inwardly digest or not is another matter. I am reading one of the Bernie Gunther’s series by Philip Kerr, and in this one, a Russian doctor says to Bernie, you are trying to be good but you are not a good man, which of course was true. He, Bernie, had to tread a fine line in order to achieve some good whilst all around there was devastation and mayhem.

      Whilst we read about what happened in WW2 and the Nazi era, one must not forget the terrible things that were happening across soviet Russia caused by a greater monster, Jo Stalin – pre, during and post WW2. One must not forget that he instigated pogroms against not only the Jews and ethnic minorities but also against his fellow Georgians and millions upon millions died as a result of the madness that prevailed. Similarly, the same madness through programmes pushed through and driven by an individual’s desire to overtake others in supremacy, caused the deaths of more than 34 million over a four year period. This being in the most populous country in the world!

      Do we learn from history? One might say that we don’t and some still look upon some former leaders as being in realms of greatness.

      • Thanks, John. I’m sure you’re right that not everyone will learn from history (or even want to). But I guess reaching some is infinitely better than reaching none (thinking here of that famous Santayana quote – ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’).

        As you probably already know, there are a growing number of crime novels that engage with the Stalin period and highlight the criminality of that regime very effectively. For example Tim Rob Smith’s Child 44 (the first in the Demidov series) and William Ryan’s The Holy Thief (the first in the Korolev series) – to name two good ones that I’ve read. I’m sure that there are lots more out there as well. Some novels make a point of flagging up the criminality of both regimes – such as Robert Harris’ Fatherland (and perhaps the Kerr novel you’re currently reading?).

  21. I do think that in writing crime fiction based on the Holocaust and fascism, that the author then can’t be ambiguous. The books have to explain, describe, educate and show a character that does the right thing. To show a morally ambiguous protagonist who looks the other way or does nothing while people are being deported and atrocities going on is wrong — and the author should criticize it in some way. Is the art for art’s sake? Or does it teach a lesson? Does it condemn bad behavior? Does it have a morally good character? Are the lines clear?

    • Having read *lots* of crime fiction set in the Nazi era, my sense is that authors are extremely sensitive to the moral issues involved in writing about this period. They tend to show a spectrum of behaviours (perpetrator to bystander to resistance fighters), because this accurately reflects the very wide range of behaviours at the time (as shown by historical studies such as Detlev Peukert’s Inside Nazi Germany). The vast majority of authors also depict their morally compromised characters very critically, but are often interested in exploring what motivated them to behave in that way (again in line with historical studies such as Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men). In most cases, the moral lines are very clear.

      Thanks, Kathy! I’ll hopefully blog more about this soon.

  22. Pingback: Arne Dahl’s The Blinded Man airs this Saturday (6 April) on BBC4 | Mrs. Peabody Investigates

  23. Pingback: At last! BBC4′s international crime slot gets back into gear | Mrs. Peabody Investigates

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