27 April 2009

Was Kenneth in Wallanderland worth a BAFTA?


I was quite surprised to see the BBC’s Wallander win last night's BAFTA award for ‘Best drama series’.

Having spent quite a lot of time in Sweden (and having watched scores of TV detective programmes), I thought it was an over-laboured attempt to depict an exaggeratedly stereotypal view of the country, its people and its cars.

I mention cars because the series featured one of those awful continuity distractions like open-mouthed acting that, once noticed, continues to irritate for however long you keep on watching the show. As far as I could see, every car that anyone drove in Wallanderland was a Volvo. But anyone who’s ever been to Sweden knows perfectly well that real live Swedes do actually drive other makes of car as well.

One thing that put me off was Kenneth Branagh’s dour and scruffy impersonation of the tight-lipped Ron Knee, Private Eye’s mythical football manager – though he wasn’t so much tight-lipped as sans-lips.

Another was that, unlike the best detective series, there were no laughs at all. In fact, Wallanderland was so completely devoid of humour that, by the time each one finished, you felt at least as depressed as Mr Branagh’s over-stated depiction of a stereotypical Swede who's quite likely to have committed suicide before the next episode.

Unfortunately, he didn't and I fear that the BBC will now use the BAFTA as an excuse to make more of the same.

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