BBC4 announces new international crime acquisitions

BBC Four has announced three new foreign-language drama series: Crimes Of Passion, a Swedish crime series set in the 1950s, Hostages, an Israeli thriller series, and 1864, a Danish historical drama series (the latter starring a certain Sidse Babett Knudsen – further information available here).

The BBC4 press release gives the following details about the two crime acquisitions:

>> Crimes Of Passion (6 x 90-minute episodes)

With love, sex, intrigue, betrayal, secrets, lies – and murder – Crimes Of Passion is based on the popular crime novels of author Maria Lang. Set in the 1950s in the magically beautiful region of Bergslagen, Sweden, these entertaining whodunnits follow amateur sleuth Puck Ekstedt and fiancé Einar Bure, along with police superintendent Christer Wijk, in their quest to reveal the murderous intent beneath the seemingly idyllic surroundings – where the killer is always one of the community. [You can see a clip here. Shades of Agatha Christie and Midsomer Murders?]

Made by Pampas Produktion AB, Crimes Of Passion is executive produced by Johan Mardell, produced by Reneé Axö and directed by Birger Larsen, Christian Eklöw, Christopher Panov, Molly Hartleb and Peter Schildt.

Hostages (10 x 60-minute episodes)

Hostages is an intense psychological crime-thriller about a renowned surgeon who has been asked to perform a routine operation on the president of Israel. The night before the procedure, her family is taken hostage and she is ordered to sabotage the operation and kill the president – or her family will die. Her battle to save both her family and the president takes us on a journey in which everyone is fighting for survival. [Ooh, this looks good – see the trailer here. A rare and welcome chance to hear some Hebrew too. The American remake  – because of course it had to be remade in English – has just aired on CBS with Toni Collette in the leading role].


Cast of the Israeli series Bnei Aruba / Hostages

Hostages is created by Rotem Shamir and Omri Givon and produced by Haim Sharir. Avi Armoza of Armoza Formats says: “We are proud to represent the first-ever Israeli series to air on the BBC, and believe that the BBC is the perfect home for this highly acclaimed drama.”

UPDATE: The first two episodes of Hostages aired on BBC4 on Saturday 21, 2015. There was lots of positive buzz on Twitter afterwards, and having caught up with the opener myself now, I can see why. This is a high quality TV drama, which sets up its ingenious premise in a very effective way – it’s gripping from start to finish, with complex characterisation and a nice twist at the end (the first of many, I’m sure). I also love that the hot-shot surgeon at the heart of it all is a women. Altogether, the series looks very promising indeed.

It’s the first time I’ve watched any Israeli crime drama or, by extension, heard any Hebrew for a sustained length of time. It’s an interesting experience, not least because (for a little while) we see a representation of an affluent, everyday life in Israel that’s at odds with what’s normally reported in the news. In my very limited experience of reading contemporary Israeli crime, the Israel-Palestine conflict is not something that tends to be addressed directly. I discuss this a little in my review of D. A. Mishani’s The Missing File, whose focus is very much on the minutiae of a murder committed in the small Israeli city of Holon. The more overtly political framework of The Hostages provides increased scope for an engagement with larger political issues, but I wonder if it will. Palestine, at least, may be too sensitive and divisive an issue to touch. I’ll be watching with great interest to see where the plot goes… 


32 thoughts on “BBC4 announces new international crime acquisitions

  1. Looking good. And, of course, Homeland was originally an Israeli series, wasn’t it? I think they have more experience than most with tense environments, so it should be interesting…

    • Thanks, Gesine – so was it the original book that you enjoyed, or was the TV adaptation of A Wreath for the Bride?

      Ah, the march of Midsomer Murders continues – there’s probably no country immune to its rather odd charms (I just hope Germans don’t think life in the UK is really like that!).

      • I read the English translation by Joan Tate, Mrs P.
        A pleasant midsummery atmosphere is all I remember. According to the dust jacket her Chief Inspector Christopher Wick is “urbane, witty, and deadly effective“ and has “a following second to none among aficionados”.

        As to Midsomer Murders – of course we think there is a corner in the UK where life is exactly like that. Cups of tea, cricket, vicars and the odd murder. Though I must admit it’s been some time since watched the series.

      • Thanks, Gesine. I might try to have a little read before seeing the adaptation, to get a feel for the writing.

        Midsomer Murders: a rather high body count given the idyllic setting!

    • Am hoping it will be good, Arlenne. The trailer is promising, but it’s quite a long concept to sustain over 10 episodes, so we’ll have to see. Sorry to hear that the US version isn’t so great – I like Toni Collette.

    • I know, Margot. It’s a bit cruel of me to dangle all these delights before those of you in the States. I hope they reach you in some shape or form soon.

  2. So glad that the return of Wallander, and The Bridge are imminent (well nearly anyway). But the new series are also looking very interesting as well. Hostages, really thrilling, and Crimes of Passion as has been said, very Midsomer Murders, and a Danish historical drama too. All looking very good.

  3. I am turning an awful shade of green here with envy. Hope these series end up over here on PBS or BBCA or any channel, frankly.

  4. I loved The Bridge too, and am pleased it got a second series as it got a bit of a lukewarm reception here – I supposed they’re rather spoiled when it comes to crime drama 😉 Looking forward to the third series of Wallander too, it’s ironic that I have to wait for it to come out on the BBC as Swedish TV annoyingly doesn’t provide subtitles!

    • Interesting to hear, Claire. I thought the first series had a few flaws, but to be honest they didn’t ever interfere with my desire to watch. Can’t wait to see Saga and Martin again.

      So how is your Swedish coming on? Have you found it an easy language to learn? The promise of being able to watch Wallander in the original must be a powerful incentive!

      • I agree, I thoroughly enjoyed it – I think the reception here might have been just that, like so many countries, they’re a bit dismissive of their own stuff!

        It’s coming… It’s not too difficult to learn enough to understand, so I do watch the crime dramas when they first air, then again when the bbc snaps them up so I can catch all the details My Swedish missed!

      • Ah, those Swedes are spoiled for choice!

        Watching twice over sounds like an excellent idea – I bet it helps your language learning no end. Very jealous 🙂

  5. All of the shows named here are available (with English subtitles) if you know where to look. I posted The Bridge in several places. Doesn’t take much to find it.

    • I don’t doubt you’re right, Andy. Interestingly, I’m not tempted in tracking these programmes down online ahead of time. I enjoy the buzz leading up to the airing of a series, and the collective experience of watching on the sofa on a Saturday night. So I think I’ll hang on for a bit…

  6. merry Xmas Mrs P. 2 Scandi films on over the festive period, if like me you have a dark sense of humour! On Xmas eve ‘Rare exports from the land of the original Santa Clauss’! Yes a real mouthful bit an excellent Finnish film, based on the legend of you know who, deffinatatly no ho Ho Ho! Then on Xmas day ‘ The Troll Hunters’ a brilliant Norwegian spoof of Blair witch project. Not your normal scandi fare, but all the better for it. both are on late, Film 4. Sham BBC4 aren’t showing them, not been at all impressed with there imports this summer. Repeats of repeats, the Italian version of Midsomer Murders, & as for Borgon, untill that actor from the killing appeard, I
    beleave he’s playing a baddy in the new series of Sherlock, it wasn’t worth watching, as for that
    awful British actor, yuc, yuc. We need original local programs not stuff with the British market in
    mind. Anyway enjoy the festive period.

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