Van der Valk (TV series)
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|Van der Valk|
|Created by||Nicolas Freeling|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||5|
|No. of episodes||32|
|Running time||60 minutes
120 minutes (1991–1992)
|Production company(s)||Thames Television
|Original run||13 September 1972– 19 February 1992|
Van der Valk is a British television series that was produced by Thames Television for the ITV network. It starred Barry Foster in the title role as Dutch detective Commissaris "Piet" (real name Simon) van der Valk. Based on the characters and atmosphere (but not the plots) of the novels of Nicolas Freeling, the first series was shown in 1972.
The setting and characters
The stories are mostly based in and around Amsterdam, where Commissaris van der Valk is a cynical yet intuitive detective. Drugs, sex and murder are among the gritty themes of the casework. However, the beautifully shot Amsterdam locations give a peculiar contrast to this.
Van der Valk also contrasts with his naïve assistant, Inspecteur Johnny Kroon, played by Michael Latimer, and his superior, Hoofd-commissaris Samson (initially played by Nigel Stock, and latterly by Ronald Hines), who deals with the political fallout of the cases. Van der Valk's French wife Arlette was played by three different actresses over the course of the show's twenty-year run, initially by Susan Travers, Joanna Dunham for the third series, and finally Meg Davies for the 1991-92 revival. Other notable actors in the series included Alan Haines who played Brig Mertens.
Production history and details
The first series, of six episodes, ran in the United Kingdom in September and October 1972, and the second of seven episodes, ran likewise in 1973. Both were recorded on 2" Ampex quadruplex videotape at Thames studios in London, with location scenes shot in Amsterdam on more expensive 16mm film.
After a break of four years, a longer, twelve-episode, third series aired in the autumn of 1977. This series was generally made on location, entirely on 16mm film, by Thames' subsidiary Euston Films (perhaps best known for dramas such as The Sweeney and Minder), giving the programmes a consistently gritty feel.
The format was revived once more, for the first time in just over 13 years, towards the end of Thames' life as a part of the ITV network, with four two-hour episodes of the fourth series in January and February 1991, and the fifth series of three two-hour episodes in February 1992. This series was recorded on 1" Panasonic videotape, with location shooting done on 35mm film. The final series was similar, but with the studio recording on D-3 videotape. The final two series were transmitted in stereo sound using the NICAM system, which had been developed between the third and fourth series.
Network released all five series on DVD in the UK in the autumn of 2007.
The signature music
The memorable signature tune, Eye Level, composed by Jack Trombey (a pseudonym of Dutch composer Jan Stoeckart) and played by the Simon Park Orchestra, reached number one in the UK singles charts in 1973. Also that year, Matt Monro charted with a vocal version titled "And you smiled!". The music originally appeared on the 1971 De Wolfe Music LP Double or Quits? (DWLP 3209).
In the final TV series, the theme was played at a slightly faster tempo than previously.
Other Van der Valks
There was also a Franco-German co-production series of made-for-TV movies starring Frank Finlay in the title role. The French series title was Pas de frontière pour l'inspecteur.
- Van der Valk und das Mädchen (Le milieu n'est pas tendre) (based on novel "Gun Before Butter", directed by Peter Zadek) (1972)
- Van der Valk und die Reichen (Discrétion absolue) (directed by Wolfgang Petersen, 1973)
- Van der Valk und die Toten (Le bouc émissaire) (directed by Marcel Cravenne, 1975)
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