Wallander – Kenneth Branagh in Major New Drama Adaptation for BBC One
BBC Press Office, 10 January 2008
Kenneth Branagh returns to BBC One to play the unique Swedish detective Kurt Wallander in three new single films for the channel. The drama will be adapted from Swedish author Henning Mankell's critically acclaimed Kurt Wallander Mysteries – an international publishing phenomenon with over 25 million copies sold worldwide.
The series will be co-produced by Kenneth Branagh's production company with Yellow Bird (a part of the Zodiak Television Group) and Left Bank Pictures through BBC Scotland.
Branagh, who is also a co-producing partner, has had a long time passion for the books, and the project came into fruition when he contacted Executive Producer of Yellow Bird Ole Søndberg, and after he met with Mankell in Sweden.
Three of the Wallander stories have been commissioned for single 90-minute episodes – 'One Step Behind', 'Firewall' and 'Sidetracked'. All three of the dramatic tales are set in Sweden and will be shot on location there early next year.
Simon Moseley, Branagh's long-term producing partner, will produce the films and the TV adaptation will be written by Richard Cottan ('Men Only', 'Love Again') and Richard McBrien (Trust, The Debt). Executive Producers for Left Bank Pictures are Andy Harries ('The Queen', 'Prime Suspect') and Francis Hopkinson ('Danielle Cable', 'The Jury'). Kenneth Branagh will also executive produce and Executive Producers for Yellow Bird will be Ole Søndberg (Beck series, Wallander series) and Anni Faurby.
Kenneth Branagh said: "Wallander is a wonderfully complex and compelling character and as a long time admirer of Mankell's novels, I am very excited to be playing this fascinatingly flawed but deeply human detective."
Left Bank Pictures Head of Television, Francis Hopkinson said: "These are fantastic stories set in a beautiful and rarely seen part of the world. Southern Sweden is a stunning place to film and the location will lend a magical quality to this unique production." Anne Mensah, Head of Drama for BBC Scotland, adds: "Wallander is an extremely ambitious project – after all we're looking to create an classic new detective character for British television. "The Henning Mankell novels are well loved around the world and have a depth and complexity which will make for exciting and compulsive viewing. We couldn't hope for a stronger team behind the project, nor could we hope for a more perfect leading man than Kenneth Branagh."
Filming for Wallander is expected to start in early 2008 on location in Sweden – bringing together a production team from both the UK and Sweden. Details of further casting to follow.
Wallander is the latest in a raft of new drama commissions through BBC Scotland including 'Phoo Action', 'P.A.s', 'Fiona's Story' and 'God On Trial'. BBC Worldwide has a 25% equity stake in Left Bank Pictures which gives it an exclusive first-look option on all Left Bank Pictures' television productions. Yellow Bird is one of the largest drama producers in Scandinavia, they have already produced 13 Swedish Wallander movies and are currently in production for two other Scandinavian detective series.