‘Have you ever tuned into a show and been equally enthralled by the scenery as you have by the story? Me too. I love TV tourism; it’s such a great way to find new destinations…’
Given the rise (and quality) of so many foreign dramas, people have been glued to their sets. You can enjoy a half hour out your life and delve into a new culture in a faraway land. In this land, people speak in foreign tongues and your TV tourism antennae will bleep, making you want to instantly hop a flight.
Despite being a huge fan of British crime dramas, such as Sherlock and Whitechapel, I also love a good non-British series. Over the years, many of these dramatisations have sprung up directly from crime novels.
The only thing I tend not like is when we make a British or American version of an original Scandinavian drama. There are a few exceptions to this, however; The American version of ‘The Bridge’, which is set between Texas and Mexico, is excellent. The British version of ‘Wallander’ is also excellent because, well…Kenneth Branagh.
Although it makes you wonder if the residents of Sweden, Denmark, France, Scotland and the likes are rampant psychotic killers, the backdrop to these wonderfully dark and moody shows desperately makes me want to rescind ownership of my remote control and indulge in a bit of TV tourism. These are some of the hot titles, set in real paces that you can visit…
Based on the novels by Swedish husband and wife writing team, Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, Beck brings the popular policeman to life on the small screen. Martin Beck works in Stockholm and the backdrop is very much like an extra character. It’s dark, brooding and lurking in the background, waiting to pounce on that unsuspecting jogger in the park.
Beck is a notoriously ‘normal’ cop. He has no alcohol problems and isn’t quite as messed up as some of the prominent characters are these days. He doesn’t blur the lines between good cop and rogue cop. This makes him great to watch as you’re not always waiting for him to fall off the wagon at any given moment. This means you can simply concentrate on the story at hand.
During my break in Stockholm, I visited the police station where Beck works and got to know the locations he spends his time.
The backdrop of Copenhagen is used to shape the overall atmosphere of this successful series. Almost as much as the female lead, Sarah Lund, and her amazingly horrific jumpers.
Generally a straight-faced and unemotional character, the series takes you through homicide detective Lund’s investigation of the disappearance of Nanna Birk Larsen, who turns up raped and murdered. The discovery takes place on Lund’s last day with the Danish Police before she transfers to Sweden, but grips the detective to the extent she’s unable to just walk away.
The series has the interesting perspective of each episode being based around a single day in the investigation, which might seem dull, but rarely ever is. There are 3 seasons of the show altogether, each with their own storyline, but the same fabulous location.
‘There’s an American remake, which is aptly set in the rainy gloominess of Seattle. It also features fabulous knitwear, and is entirely in English…’
It’s nowhere near as good as the original, though. However, you can take your eyes off the screen without fear of missing anything important as you won’t need the subtitles.
This Netflix Original doesn’t really make me want to hop a flight to deepest, darkest Medellin and hook up with a drug kingpin. However, it doesn’t just portray the sticky hell of the Columbian jungle’s cocaine labs. It also shows you the fabulous countryside and beautiful, if rather impoverished, towns and villages. This series is also foreign language as it’s Spanish, but as I understand it, it gets my vote.
Not only does it show you how to push drugs (don’t try it at home, please), but it also helps with language skills. Before I watched it I had no idea that a ‘narco trafficante’ was even a thing. These days, should I run into a drug lord, I’ll at least be able to hold up my end of the conversation. Anyway, the Narcos storyline surrounds the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar and the DEA team attempting to infiltrate his inner circle.
‘If you like shooting and blasting, rainforest scenery, half-naked women, and gratuitous violence; you’ll love it…’
This is one of the only programmes that I prefer the English remake to the original. This is mostly down to the fact that Kenneth Branagh plays the lead and he’s extremely pretty. I didn’t say I wasn’t completely shallow, because Lord knows I am. Obviously, he’s also a fabulous actor, and that helps greatly. The TV series is based on the books by Henning Mankell. The stories are based in Malmo and are often as bleak as Wallander’s personal life.
‘Wallander is quite a depressed man for the most part and, SPOILER ALERT: If you are also prone to feeling low, this programme may not be for you…’
Malmo is somewhere I knew very little about before I started watching. Over the years, it’s benefitted well from TV tourism related to its most famous son. The show highlights the rural countryside and the coast, which is really striking. Despite the bleakness of the stories, it makes you want to visit for the backdrop alone.
Ian Rankin’s famous hard-drinking Scottish detective has been in print for more than 20 years. It’s been showing BBC Scotland for half of that. Inspector John Rebus was Initially played by John Hannah of Four Weddings And A Funeral fame.
He’s now depicted by Ken Stott, who fits the part of the gruff, scruffy fictional character so much better. As with the majority of crime shows, the underbelly of the setting is always key to the storyline. Rankin writes about the dark side of Edinburgh brilliantly, as only someone who calls the city home can.
The scenery is beautiful and lets you see parts of town that aren’t advertised by marketing campaigns. There’s also an official Rebus tour in Edinburgh, where you can indulge in your TV tourism obsession.
What are your favourite TV tourism locations?