Martin Beck

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For other uses, see Martin Beck (disambiguation).

Martin Beck is a fictional Swedish police detective who is the main character in series of ten novels by Sjöwall and Wahlöö, collectively titled The Story of a Crime. The stories are frequently referred to as the Martin Beck stories. All of the novels have been adapted to films between 1967 and 1994, six of which featured Gösta Ekman as Martin Beck. Since 1997 there have also been 30 films only based on the characters, with Peter Haber as Martin Beck.


Throughout the novels, Martin Beck goes from being an unhappily married man and father of two young teenagers, to a divorced man in an unmarried relationship. Beck is prone to colds and often suffers from ailments and physical discomforts. Beck also gets several promotions, seemingly much to the chagrin of everyone involved, including himself.

Beck is a tall man who smokes. In The Abominable Man he is shot and severely wounded.

All ten novels have been adapted to film, although some have appeared with different titles and four have been filmed outside Sweden. The first actor to play Martin Beck was Keve Hjelm in 1967. Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt portrayed Beck in 1976. In 1993 and 1994, Gösta Ekman played the character in six films. To the American audiences, the most notable actor to play Martin Beck is Walter Matthau from the 1973 film called The Laughing Policeman, although his character was called "Jake Martin." Martin Beck has also been played by Jan Decleir, Derek Jacobi and Romualds Ancāns. Two of the novels have been adapted for films twice, Roseanna and Murder at the Savoy. In the later films which are only based on the characters, Martin Beck is played by Peter Haber.


Films based on the novels[edit]

Independent films[edit]

Films with Gösta Ekman[edit]

Films only based on the characters[edit]

Season 1 was written by Rolf Börjlind and season 2–4 by Rolf Börjlind and Cilla Börjlind. They all starred Peter Haber as Martin Beck and Mikael Persbrandt as Gunvald Larsson. Some of them were released theatrically, but most went direct-to-video. The fifth season includes eight films which will all have premiere on C More, four in 2015 and four in 2016.[1] Persbrandt reported in 2015, that the last film of 2015 will be his final performance as Gunvald Larsson.

Season 1[edit]

Season 2[edit]

Season 3[edit]

Season 4[edit]

Season 5[edit]

Radio adaptations[edit]

The BBC has adapted the series for radio and began broadcasting the adaptions in October 2012 under the umbrella title of The Martin Beck Killings. Beck is played by Steven Mackintosh and Kollberg by Neil Pearson.[2] Other actors include Ralph Ineson as Gunvald Larsson, Russell Boulter as Rönn, and Adrian Scarborough as Melander.

  • 1 – Roseanna (27 October 2012)
  • 2 – The Man who Went Up in Smoke (3 November 2012)
  • 3 – The Man on the Balcony (10 November 2012)
  • 4 – The Laughing Policeman (17 November 2012)
  • 5 – The Fire Engine That Disappeared (24 November 2012)
  • 6 – Murder at the Savoy (6 July 2013)
  • 7 – The Abominable Man (13 July 2013)
  • 8 – The Locked Room (20 July 2013)
  • 9 – Cop Killer (27 July 2013)
  • 10 – The Terrorists (3 August 2013)


Sjöwall and Wahlöö's technique of mixing traditional crime fiction with a focus on the social issues in the Swedish welfare state received a great deal of attention. The concept has been updated in the 1990s with Henning Mankell's detective character Kurt Wallander and in the 2000s with Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy featuring Lisbeth Salander. The basic concept has, by extension, given rise to the entire Scandinavian noir scene.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Unik urpremiär på C More för åtta nya Beck-filmer med Peter Haber" (in Swedish). C More Entertainment. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "The Martin Beck Killings". BBC. Retrieved 8 November 2015.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]