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].

Hostages

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…