I'm looking forward to this evening's double bill of "The Killing" on BBC4. You can catch up on the series on the BBC's Iplayer service, here

This series has been the "sleeper" of this winter's schedule. It's now more popular than "Mad Men!"

Inevitably. there has been quite a lot of press comment about the series as it's gone on. There's a whole page in today's Guardian

and a new plot-blog discussion

Mostly, this has been about the chunky knits, the relatively slow pace, the night shots and the rain. It's a "noir" thriller, so night and rain are part of it's visual language!

Deborah Orr made an interesting point

This was about the way that the investigating protagonists in Scandinavian crime fiction work together. There's relatively little of the confrontation that marks out the institutional framework of British police drama. Deborah suggested that the largely consensual framework of these Scandinavian imports derives from the social-democratic traditions of that region. I'm sure that's true. Also, I believe that the harsh winter weather of the north provides for an empathetic and collaborative social structure. Check out Canada and the Coen brothers' "Fargo."


I just wanted to make a general point about British culture and Scandinavian imports. I'm going to do this by appeal to the experience of football and foreign players.

jack warner 1

Ever since "Dixon of Dock Green," played by Jack Warner and derived from the eponymous hero "The Blue Lamp" (1950), we have been given a continuous diet of police propaganda that suggests we have the finest police force in the world. Actually and notwithstanding this convenient fiction, we now know that our police have been institutionally corrupt and racist since forever. Yes, they get results, but are they the right results? More Gene Hunt than Dixon!


This is very like the complacent attitude in our football during the 1980s. We convinced ourselves that, our one world cup success notwithstanding, we were a global force in football and had nothing to learn from our international colleagues. When clubs began to look abroad, they chose Scandinavian players...


This is exactly where British TV crime drama is now. The plot lines of institutional confrontations are worn thin and producers are looking for glamourous foreign imports. If I were a TV writer, I would be researching something set in Berlin, Vienna or Moscow. Maybe even India!

The good news is that foreign footballers have transformed the technical quality of English football, if not the fortunes of the national team. The EPL is a global phenomenon. If only the same thing can be achieved with British TV crime drama and, eventually, with our own police and security forces.

There also a new US TV version of this drama. We can ignore that!