There’s nothing quite like that warm sense of comfort, tinged with excitement, that you get each Saturday when a Nordic noir double bill is scheduled for 9pm on BBC Four. But what do you do when they’re showing something else or, worse still, it isn’t Saturday? The answer is Channel 4’s Walter Presents, a streaming service showing subtitled drama programmes from around the world. Walter and co have built up a decent number of Scandinavian crime shows, free to watch in the UK and US. Crime Fiction Lover editor Garrick Webster introduces five of the best…
The best crime drama on Walter Presents:
Here’s a series that starts with a bang in more ways than one. Norwegian teenagers Henning and Philip share a secret kiss at a woodland quarrying site, but are interrupted when a black Audi pulls up outside. It looks as though a gangland execution is about to take place, but the intended victim ends up shooting his four assailants before stumbling into the shack where the two boys are hiding. One of them smacks him with a frying pan and they manage to escape. So does the killer when he comes to. Philip’s foster mother is the local police detective working the case. Soon she’s investigating a brutal motorcycle gang, a missing teenage girl and an organised crime syndicate from the Balkans, which may or may not be linked to the culprit. There is dialled up tension in every episode as the boys desperately keep their love, and what they saw, a secret.
There are no police, no detectives and no crimes to solve as the Norwegian show Acquitted gets underway. But there is a lot of suspicion aimed at Aksel Borgen when he returns to his hometown after 20 years abroad. Now a successful businessman, he’s the white knight who will save local industry by investing in alternative energy firm Solar Tech. However, the company is run by Eva Halsteen, mother of the girl Aksel was accused of murdering two decades ago. He was acquitted at the time, but Eva believes him guilty and can’t handle the fact that he is the one offering her company and the town itself a lifeline. The political aspects of his rescue of the business, the secrets of Aksel and other townsfolk, the still-unsolved murder – all combine for a gripping plot, and the fjord-side setting will blow you away.
Filmed in the Danish port of Frederikshavn, Norskov takes us to a fictional town with an ambitious young mayor who wants to raise it out from post-industrial malaise and light its grey and wintry streets with new hope. A fancy high tech college is part of his plan, but when a teenage girl nearly dies of an overdose investors get cold feet. So Norskov exile and police detective Tom Noack is drafted in to break the drug trafficking ring that blights the town. The makers of the show have set it out like a modern Western, with Noack hooking up with old friends and an old flame, but finding that not everyone is who they once were. Ice hockey, cold beer and chilling murder are all on the menu – probably the best Danish crime show on Walter Presents.
Norway is over-represented in Walter’s stable, but who can complain when the country is making inventive programmes like Valkyrien? Maybe it’s a stretch to imagine a doctor setting up an underground medical unit in a disused Oslo metro station where he treats his comatose wife. But throw in a wounded armed robber with a holdall full of stolen euros and a conspiracy theorist who knows the ins and outs of the entire underground network, and you’ve got a show brimming with possibilities. How far will the group go to remain hidden? Part crime thriller, part medical thriller, part conspiracy thriller, it’s not only full of thrills but has laugh-out-loud moments, as well as incredibly sensitive scenes as main character Ravn works desperately to save the love of his life.
This wonderfully grim and troubling programme takes you to the sordid side of Reykjavik, the world’s most northerly capital. A schoolgirl has hanged herself dramatically at centre stage in the National Ballet, and the police would rather rule it suicide than investigate. However, three very different characters have deeper suspicions regarding how and why the adopted teenager died. The contrasting styles of rough and ready alcoholic Logi, prim solicitor Brynhildur and seen-it-all detective Gabriela are just a few reasons why this show is so interesting to watch, as their parallel investigations delve deep into a world of sexual abuse, drugs and various kinds of exploitation. Where the excellent Icelandic series Trapped played on a sense of remote isolation, here the hard streets, bars and backrooms of Reykjavik are just as claustrophobic and disorientating. Excellent acting and tight camerawork give the characters an extra dose of intensity.
Have we missed any of the best crime drama on Walter Presents? Let us know in the comments below!