Midsomer Murders writer Chris Murray is taking a pro-European approach to his latest drama – taking one of Britain’s best loved actors and turning him into a Dutch detective.
Murray is remaking Dutch procedural Van Der Valk for a slew of European broadcasters including ITV in the UK, Germany’s ARD, France Télévisions and NPO Netherlands with Safe and Mad Dogs actor Marc Warren in the lead role.
Murray told Deadline, “I’ve done quite a few detective shows over the years and I always remembered the setting of the original and liked the idea that in these times [of Brexit], being relatively pro-European, of doing a detective series that reflected contemporary Europe.”
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The show follows a street smart and unapologetic Dutch detective, played by Warren, who also starred in CBS’ The Good Wife, navigates the lively and enigmatic city of Amsterdam, solving mysterious crimes using astute human observation and inspired detection. The original series, which was produced by Thames Television for ITV, starred Barry Foster as Dutch detective Commissaris Piet/Simon Van Der Valk. It was loosely based on the novels by Nicolas Freeling.
Murray said that Amsterdam was a “melting pot” of culture, history and nightlife that seemed an ideal setting for the show. “It was an opportunity to create a character that was a little more lived in more than some British detective have been, not as straight laced, not black and white, slightly in there wasn’t doing murders, enjoying the city.” He added that many think of Amsterdam as a place for bachelor and bachelorette parties and the red light district but that it’s actually a “buzzing” city for a number of other reasons and he wanted to explore that in these three feature-length episodes.
Maimie McCoy (The Three Musketeers) stars alongside Warren as Lucienne Hassell, his gutsy and fiercely competent right-hand woman. The cast also includes Luke Allen-Gale (Dominion), Elliot Barnes-Worrell (Jericho), Darrell D’Silva (Strike Back), Emma Fielding (Les Misérables), Kees Boot (Judas), Reinout Bussemaker (Flight HS13), Frances Grey (Home Fires), Daniel Lapaine (The Durrells), Stephanie Leonidas (Snatch), Mike Libanon (Kill Switch) and Vineeta Rishi (Line of Duty).
Police procedurals remain some of the highest rated shows on television around the world, although they are not as sexy as the fresh crop of serialized, high-concept dramas that tend to get ink. “We’re so familiar with watching distinct concepts and new genres and new approaches to TV, but I’d like to think there’s room for both. We’re keen to be aspirational, whether it’s a cop show or not, hopefully people are coming to it because of the characters and to hang with the gang. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s a world you want to be part of,” he added.
The episode will each be standalone with a small character arc across the first run. Murray, who said that they are in the final stages of post-production, is already writing more episodes with a “view to the future”. The ten-part series is being developed by Dramacorp, the Stockholm-based production company founded by Patrick Nebout, part of Jan Mojto’s Beta Film, and is a romantic procedural series that blends comedy, mystery and crime detection with a heart-warming love story. Dramacorp has been granted exclusive access to film in the City of Cannes, which enables the producer to use the trademark-protected name ‘Cannes’ in the show title.
“That one is bubbling under,” he said. “It’s exciting to have one show in Amsterdam and one in Cannes. My kids can’t believe it – they think I’m the least cool dad ever and now I’m working in two very cool cities.”