DRAMA: Thin blue line – new Swedish everyday crime drama has pan-Nordic launch

”How can you keep being a complete and loving human being
when you’re exposed to the absolute dregs of society in your
day-to-day job? The viewers will encounter human characters
with flaws and imperfections in a kind of Hill Street Blues, set in
Malmö in 2020.” This is how SVT’s Head of Drama, Anna Croneman,
sums up the content of SVT’s new drama series.

The series Tunna Blå Linien, which will premiere in 2021 throughout the Nordic region, is set around Sara, Magnus, Jesse, Leah, Dani and Faye. All of them work for the police force in Malmö, and they each struggle to balance their tough professional lives with their personal lives and relationships with friends. Their workplace is the streets of Malmö, a city with many different faces.

The police officers take viewers into local areas, leaving scope for different storylines than conventional narratives. Photo: SVT / Anagram

Need to reinvent the genre

The Nordic countries, not least Sweden, are known for their brilliant crime novels and crime series. However, few Nordic TV crime series have emerged in recent years. According to SVT’s Head of Drama, Anna Croneman, a kind of saturation point had been reached.

“I think that most people, audiences as well as screenwriters, had perhaps grown a little tired of the genre. And so everyone realised that if we were to make another TV crime drama, we’d have to somehow reinvent the genre. Perhaps this could be done by making a number of series based on real-life cases, such as Efterforskningen and Jakten på en mördare. I think that the current state of the world inspires a yearning for drama and dramedy.”

Nordic countries reveal drive for renewal

While acknowledging that Nordic Noir has probably had its day, she points
out that at last year’s international drama festival C21 in London, two out of six selected series entries were Nordic.

“In fact, I think that we have good reason to feel proud here in the Nordic

It may well be that the Nordic Noir bubble collapsed a while ago, but at C21, we – the Nordic public service providers – had two out of six specially selected series entries screened in the non-English-language drama category. And while we’re on the subject of drama trends, I believe that drama series such as SVT’s Kalifatet, NRK’s 22. juli and DR’s Ulven kommer reveal a very strong drive for renewal among the Nordic public service media. As a result, viewers now get new types of TV dramas as well as TV crime series,” says Anna Croneman.

Portrait of SVTs head of drama, Anna Croneman. Photo: Eva Edsjö/SVT
The importance of a strong drama collaboration increases every day,
reckons SVT’s Head of Drama, Anna Croneman. Photo: Eva Edsjö / SVT

Wish for a big Nordic project

According to the Head of Drama for Sweden, the greatest challenge right now in the drama category is that the major international streaming services provide a “good” one-stop shop for producers, screenwriters, directors, actors and new talent. For example, you can avoid the hassle of having to apply for funding from multiple sources and, at first glance, they may seem look like an easier option. But as she also points out:

“Of course, in this way they sell most of their rights, which can have other
consequences. But it doesn’t seem to be causing concern at the moment, and that’s why we as public service broadcasters have to counter this competition with high quality content while also showing courage.”

The Nordic public service providers’ heads of drama and drama departments have worked closely together for many years. In the past two years, they have aimed to further strengthen this through the Nordic12 collaboration, where they co-produce a minimum of 12 Nordic drama series per year.

“I see the importance of a strong Nordic drama collaboration increasing every day. I think that as Nordic heads of drama, we have a fruitful dialogue and a genuine collaboration.

We’re not always ‘in the same place at the same time’, but that doesn’t matter, because being in total agreement won’t help us move forward. If I really could have one more wish for the future of the Nordic collaboration, it would be a really big, cool Nordic project,” declares Anna Croneman.

In fact, the Nordic heads of drama are currently developing a Norwegian drama project that could potentially have a major pan-Nordic

Tunna blå linien (SVT)
Co-producers: DR, NRK, RUV and Yle
Production company: Anagram
Main writer: Cilla Jackert
Main director: Sanna Lenken
Premiere: January and February 2021 in all five