Written by TV

Foreign Language TV Dramas

I think that it’s safe to say that if there’s one thing that BBC Four has given to UK audiences (and there certainly isn’t only one thing), it’s introducing British audiences to much more non-English language TV dramas.
Historically, we’ve been an export-only country, with imports not finding a home here unless they come from the US or Australia (and for those with long memories, New Zealnd for kids TV – Children of Fire Mountain anyone?).
Most recently we’ve had The Killing, with series 2 imminent. Prior to that there was Sprial, a handful of Inspector Montalbano episodes, and of course Swedish versions of Wallander.
Not since the mid-eighties when Channel 4 showed Châteauvallon and Black Forest Clinic, while late night ITV ran the likes of Derrick, has there been so much international television on British screens.
We also have another Danish series – Borgen – to look forward to, which, like The Killing before it, has already been optioned for an American remake.
Until now, it’s been BBC Four leading the vanguard, so it’s good to see that Sky Arts is getting in on the action broadcasting Romanzo Criminale from this Tuesday. Based on a bestselling Italian book, and previously made into a film, there’ve been two 11 episode series that have aired in Italy. The series was made by Sky’s sister organisation in Italy, but nonetheless, it sounds like it was quite well received, so I look forward to seeing it.
But there’s still plenty more out there. French TV might major on crime series – policiers – and they mightn’t all be of the quality of Spiral, but I’d like the opoertunity to see some more. There are certainly plenty of French historical series – yet the last one I can remember airing was The Count of Monte Cristo with Gerard Depardieu, which dates from 1998.
Germany must certainly have produced worthwhile TV dramas since the last one I recall hitting UK screens – Heimat (1, 2 and 3), which eventually finished in 2004.
Scandinavia produces more than Wallander, and I know that there are worthwhile dramas in countries like Spain and Russia. So wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see one or two more? So I hope that Romanza Criminale is successful for Sky Arts and they import more. And More 4 might want to look in the same direction too. I bet they’re not even expensive to buy!
[Update] And because it’s Mipcom at the moment, the BBC has just announced a couple more imports: The Bridge set on the Danish/Swedish Øresund Bridge, and Sebastian Bergman which is stars Swedish actor Rolf Lassgård and is described as having a “dark Scandinavian mood” but is made by German company ZDF, so I’m not clear if these are actually in Swedish or German.
[Update 2] And FX UK is about to start airing a French cop drama called Braquo! Goodness…