The Tatort logo.
Klaus J. Behrendt
Jan Josef Liefers
Wotan Wilke Möhring
|Theme music composer||Klaus Doldinger|
|Country of origin||Germany
|No. of episodes||937 (+13) (February 28, 2015) (list of episodes)|
|Running time||90 Minutes|
|Original network||Das Erste|
|Picture format||576i (Das Erste [and regional channels of ARD-Network], ORF2, SRF1);
720p (DasErste HD, ORF2 HD, SRF1 HD)
|Original release||November 29, 1970 – present|
Tatort (German police jargon meaning the scene of a crime) is a German language police procedural television series developed by the German television channel ARD. It is unique in its approach, in that it is jointly produced by all of the station's regional public-service broadcasters whereby every regional station contributes a number of episodes to a common pool. Therefore, the series is a collection of different police stories where different police teams each solve crimes in their respective city. Uniqueness in architecture, customs and dialects of the cities is therefore a distinctive part of the series and often the city, not the police force is the real main character of an episode. The concept of local stations only producing a couple of shows per year has also enabled the shows to be longer (90 minutes) and more fleshed out psychologically than other weekly TV dramas.
The first episode was broadcast on November 29, 1970 and the series has been continuously on the air ever since. This makes it the longest-running TV-drama of Germany. Episodes are broadcast on ARD's main channel Das Erste on Sunday evening at the prime viewing time of 8.15 pm (just after the 8 o'clock Tagesschau news) somewhere between once and twice a month. Reruns are often shown by various regional ARD stations and on foreign broadcasters. Next to the member stations of the ARD, the National Austrian broadcasting corporation Österreichischer Rundfunk joined the production pool in 1971 and airs the program on its ORF 2 channel. Switzerland's Schweizer Fernsehen joined the pool from 1990 to 2001 and again in 2011 and distributes its episodes through its channel SRF 1.
The main feature of Tatort is that it is jointly produced by all participating regional TV stations: Each of the eleven companies involved (the nine German regional TV channels or Landesrundfunkanstalten that together form ARD, plus ORF in Austria and SRF in Switzerland), produces its own episodes, starring its own police inspector or team of inspectors. The episodes are then fed into a common pool and shown through all participating stations as part of their common programming. This means that if one Tatort features one team of inspectors in one specific city, the next Tatort will play in another city and feature another set of inspectors. Combine this with the fact that the episodes are, with 90 minutes of length, almost the size of a movie and with the fact that, with rarely more than 30 episodes in one year, the series is broadcast only every other week and you come up with a cultural phenomenon that is closer to a string of made-for-TV movies then your typical run-of-the-mill police series.
This pooling concept was in great part due to the nature of the public broadcast television channel ARD which is jointly operated by all of Germany's public Landesrundfunkanstalten: Originally developed as radio stations, each 'Anstalt' produces its own radio channels, but cooperates on national programs such as the newscasts that are broadcast throughout all channels as a common block. With the advent of television, this was expanded further in that there was only one national channel jointly operated by all Anstalten with a regional block as well as a common programming. But unlike for instance in the USA with its Network affiliate system no single corporation would produce all common programming. Instead the different member stations would each contribute a number of programs to the common block to be shown by all other stations. As a result of this each of the member stations already had the capacity and experience to produce TV-programs, even feature films on their own although no Anstalt had the means and capacity to produce a complete series. Jointly producing one crime series with episodes contributed by each member station was thus a logical step.
Apart from the unique joint-pooling system, the series is also characterized by the relative length of an episode (90 minutes) which allows for more in-dept and psychological fleshing out of the characters. Although almost all episodes feature the investigation of an homicide, it is never just a simple case of whodunit. Often the time available allows for the crime to be shown in all its aspects with equal attention focused on the perpetrators and the victims as on the inspectors. On several occasions the actual police work is just a side note in the story as the main plot is the way one of the persons involved deals with the crime and its aftermath.
With the national broadcasting corporations of Austria and Switzerland joining in, the episodes of Tatort are set in various cities of Germany, Vienna and Lucerne. Originally each of the participating member stations limited their episodes to one team of investigators in one city, for ease of production this was mostly the city the broadcast station was in, but over the years some stations broadcasting over a large area have Tatorts playing in several cities. Notably the WDR has three teams of investigators playing respectively in Cologne, Münster and Dortmund. Episodes are either produced by the station's own production facilities or are filmed and often also written by outside production houses on behalf of the station. This sometimes leads to situations where for instance a Tatort playing in Thuringia is actually produced in Bavaria with only a handful of scenes shot 'on location' in the town the story is supposed to play in.
A similar concept of independently filming and then pooling episodes was used from 1988 to 1992 in the series Eurocops jointly produced by several national European TV stations.
Gunther Witte, dramaturge and TV boss at WDR (West German Broadcasting Cologne), developed the series against initial resistance. Witte and his successors have ensured that one or two detectives are at the center of every story, and the cases are shown from their perspective; they are usually members of a team, and their lives are also included.
The first Tatort radio drama was broadcast in January 2008.
In 2012, more than 100,000 people participated in the first and only online game linked to the SWR Tatort production, "Der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget".
The show is still aired on Sundays at 8:15 p.m. in Germany and Austria and 8:05 p.m. in Switzerland. About 30 episodes are made each year. By June 2014, 926 episodes had been produced, including 13 made in Austria and shown only there.
In East Germany
At the same time the ARD was starting its Tatort format, the DDR had its own police procedural/crime show called Polizeiruf 110 ("Police dial 1-1-0"). The series premiered in 1971, less than a year after the first Tatort. It too was a police procedural, with various teams of investigators in various cities of the DDR, but in contrast to the West, only a small part of their cases involved actual homicides. The psychology of the perpetrators and the victims was also more prevalent. The series continued through all of the 1970s and 80s and even survived the fall of the DDR, continuing until 1991.
In 1990 Polizeiruf practiced its own brand of German unification with episode 142, "Unter Brüdern" ("Amongst Brothers"), a crossover with the Tatort investigators Schimanski and Thanner. Until 1991, the series continued more or less independently for 11 more episodes until episode 153 (December 22, 1991), again a crossover, in which Kommissar Thanner becomes the team's superior. Also in 1991, as part of the unification, the DDR's television company DFF was split into the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) and Ostdeutscher Rundfunk Brandenburg (ORB) while the television stations in the new state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern would be operated as part of the NDR.
As MDR, ORB and NDR were all partners in the ARD, it was expected that they would start producing Tatort episodes as well. However, seeing the popularity of Polizeiruf 110, it was decided that the stations would contribute to the Tatort pool, but that its episodes would keep the name of Polizeiruf 110 and their own title music and intro. Still, they would be broadcast over all ARD stations on Sunday evening just like (or instead of) the 'western' Tatort.
Reorganizing took one and a half years, but on June 13, 1993, the now MDR restarted the series in Tatort format. This first episode played in Leipzig, just as in 1991. However, today's episodes produced by the MDR play in Magdeburg, while those produced by NDR play in Rostock. The ORB (and later ORB's successor, RBB) has its episodes headed by the same team of investigators, but take place in various cities of Brandenburg. In addition, Bavarian Broadcasting station BR produces its own Polizeiruf episodes playing in Munich next to its Tatort episodes playing in the same city. Like the original, the Bavarian Polizeiruf episodes focus more on the psychology of the crimes and more on crimes other than homicides. Over the years several other 'western' local broadcasts tried their hands at producing Polizeiruf episodes as a line of 'alternative Tatort' next to the regular ones. However, all of them stopped after a few episodes.
On May 15, 2015, RBB aired the 350th episode of Polizeiruf 110 , the 197th episode of the new format.
In 2013, seeing that Thuringia was so far the only federal state in Germany that had neither a Tatort nor a Polizeiruf playing in one of its cities, the MDR ordered two new series under the Tatort header, playing in Erfurt and in Weimar respectively. Both are produced for the MDR by Bavarian companies.
As 1-1-0 is the speed dial code for police/emergency dispatch in Germany, but not in Austria, Polizeiruf 110 is broadcast in Austria as Polizeiruf 113.
List of Tatort investigators (Kommissare)
|Year||Broadcast Station||Investigators||Actors||City||Number of Episodes|
|1970–1982||NDR||Paul Trimmel||Walter Richter||Hamburg||11|
|1970–1973||SR||Liersdahl and Schäfermann||Dieter Eppler||Saarbrücken||2|
|1971–1986||SDR||Eugen Lutz||Werner Schumacher||8 different towns in Baden-Württemberg||16|
|1971–1979||HR||Konrad||Klaus Höhne||Frankfurt am Main||8|
|1971–1978||NDR||Finke||Klaus Schwarzkopf||Kiel and other places in Schleswig-Holstein||7|
|1971–1987||ORF||Viktor Marek||Fritz Eckhardt||Vienna||14|
|1971–1972||SFB||Erwin Kasulke||Paul Esser||Berlin||2|
|1972–1981||BR||Melchior Veigl||Gustl Bayrhammer||Munich||15|
|1972||SWF||Horst Pflüger||Ernst Jacobi||Baden-Baden||1|
|1973||RB||Walter Böck||Hans Häckermann||Bremen||1|
|1973–1977||SWF||Franz Gerber||Heinz Schimmelpfennig||Baden-Baden||5|
|1974–1980||WDR||Heinz Haferkamp||Hansjörg Felmy||Essen||20|
|1974–1977||NDR||Heinz Brammer||Knut Hinz||Hanover||4|
|1975–1977||SFB||Martin Schmidt||Martin Hirthe||Berlin||3|
|1978–1980||SWF||Marianne Buchmüller||Nicole Heesters||Mainz||3|
|1978–1983||HR||Bergmann||Heinz Treuke||Frankfurt am Main||3|
|1978–1979||SFB||Matthias Behnke||Hans-Peter Korff||Berlin||2|
|1980||HR||Sander||Volkert Kraeft||Frankfurt am Main||1|
|1980||WDR||Paul Enders||Jörg Hube||Essen, Frankfurt am Main||1|
|1980–1982||NDR||Jochen Piper||Bernd Seebacher||Bremen||2|
|1980||WDR||Willy Kreutzer||Willy Semmelrogge||Essen||1|
|1981||HR||Bergmann||Lutz Moik||Frankfurt am Main||3|
|1981–1985||SFB||Friedrich Walther||Volker Brandt||Berlin||6|
|1981–1988||SWF||Hanne Wiegand||Karin Anselm||Baden-Baden, Karlsruhe, Mainz||8|
|1981||NDR||Greve||Erik Schumann||small town in Schleswig-Holstein||1|
|1981–1991||WDR||Horst Schimanski and Christian Thanner||Götz George and Eberhard Feik||Duisburg||29|
|1981–1987||BR||Ludwig Lenz||Helmut Fischer||Munich||7|
|1982||HR||Werner Rolfs||Klaus Löwitsch||Frankfurt am Main||1|
|1982||NDR||Nikolaus Schnoor||Uwe Dallmeier||Bremerhaven||1|
|1983||NDR||Ronke||Ulrich von Bock||Hamburg||1|
|1984||HR||Rullmann||Hans-Werner Bussinger||small towns in Hesse||1|
|1984–2001||NDR||Paul Stoever and Peter Brockmöller||Manfred Krug and Charles Brauer||Hamburg and Neuwerk||41, Brockmöller: 38|
|1984–1986||ORF||Hirth||Kurt Jaggberg||Vienna||3 (+ 7 only ORF)|
|1985||HR||Reinhold Dietze||Klaus Löwitsch||Frankfurt am Main||1|
|1985–2001||HR||Edgar Brinkmann||Karl-Heinz von Hassel||Frankfurt am Main||28|
|1985–1989||SFB||Hans Georg Bülow||Heinz Drache||Berlin||6|
|1986||BR||Siggi Riedmüller||Günther Maria Halmer||Munich||1|
|1987–1988||SDR||Georg Thomas Schreitle||Horst Michael Neutze||Stuttgart, Führstadt||3|
|1987||BR||Karl Scherrer||Hans Brenner||Munich||1|
|1988||ORF||Pfeifer||Bruno Dallansky||Vienna||1 (+4 only ORF)|
|1988–2005||SR||Max Palu||Jochen Senf||Saarbrücken and other places in Saarland||17|
|1988–1989||BR||Otto Brandenburg||Horst Bollmann||Munich||2|
|1989–1996||ORF||Michael Fichtl||Michael Janisch||Vienna||8 (+1 only ORF)|
|since 1989||SWF, SWR||Lena Odenthal and Mario Kopper||Ulrike Folkerts and Andreas Hoppe||Ludwigshafen||61, Kopper: 52|
|1990||DRS||Walter Howald||Mathias Gnädinger||Bern||1|
|since 1991||BR||Ivo Batic, Franz Leitmayr (and Detective Sergeant Carlo Menzinger until 2007)||Miroslav Nemec, Udo Wachtveitl and Michael Fitz||Munich||69, Menzinger: 45|
|1991–1992||DRS||Reto Carlucci||Andrea Zogg||Bern||2|
|1991–1995||SFB||Franz Markowitz||Günter Lamprecht||Berlin||8|
|1992–2007||MDR||Bruno Ehrlicher and Kain||Peter Sodann and Bernd Michael Lade||first Dresden, later Leipzig, one episode in Cologne as well||45, (two of them together with Ballauf and Schenk)|
|1992–1997||WDR||Bernd Flemming, Detective Constable Max Ballauf and Detective Constable Miriam Koch||Martin Lüttge, Klaus J. Behrendt and Roswitha Schreiner||Düsseldorf||15, Ballauf: 9|
|1992–2007||SDR, SWR||Ernst Bienzle and Detective Sergeant Günter Gächter||Dietz Werner Steck and Rüdiger Wandel||Stuttgart||25|
|1993–2002||DRS||Philipp von Burg and Markus Gertsch||L.I. Kisch and E.C. Sigrist||Bern||9|
|1995||HR||Leo Felber||Heinz Schubert||Frankfurt am Main||1|
|1996–1998||SFB||Ernst Roiter and Detective Constable Michael Zorrowski||Winfried Glatzeder and Robinson Reichel||Berlin||12|
|1996||ORF||Max Becker||Klaus Wildbolz||Vienna||1|
|1997||ORF||Paul Kant and Jakob Varanasi||Wolfgang Hübsch and Johannes Nikolussi||Vienna||2|
|1997||NDR||Lea Sommer||Hannelore Elsner||Hamburg||2|
|since 1997||WDR||Max Ballauf and Freddy Schenk||Klaus J. Behrendt and Dietmar Bär||Cologne, two Episodes in Leipzig as well||62, (respectively two of them together with Ehrlicher/Kain and Saalfeld/Keppler)|
|since 1997||RB||Inga Lürsen and Detective Constable Nils Stedefreund||Sabine Postel and Oliver Mommsen||Bremen, Bremerhaven||30 (with Stedefreund: 25)|
|1999–2014||SFB, RBB||Till Ritter and Robert Hellmann, later Felix Stark||Dominic Raacke and Stefan Jürgens, later Boris Aljinovic||Berlin||37, (with Hellmann: 6, with Stark: 31, the last episode only with Stark)|
|since 1999||ORF||Moritz Eisner and Bibi Fellner||Harald Krassnitzer and Adele Neuhauser||Vienna and other places in Austria||34 (with Fellner: 10)|
|2001–2008||NDR||Jan Casstorff and Detective Sergeant Eduard Holicek||Robert Atzorn, Tilo Prückner||Hamburg||15|
|2002–2010||HR||Detective Sergeant Charlotte Sänger and Fritz Dellwo||Andrea Sawatzki and Jörg Schüttauf||Frankfurt am Main||18|
|since 2002||NDR||Charlotte Lindholm||Maria Furtwängler||Hanover and small towns in Lower Saxony||22|
|since 2002||SWR||Klara Blum and Kai Perlmann||Eva Mattes and Sebastian Bezzel||Konstanz and other places at the Lake Constance||28 (with Perlmann: 24)|
|since 2002||WDR||Frank Thiel and forensic doctor Prof. Karl-Friedrich Boerne||Axel Prahl and Jan Josef Liefers||Münster (Westfalia) and around||26|
|since 2003||NDR||Klaus Borowski, Frieda Jung (2003-2010) and Sarah Brandt (since 2010)||Axel Milberg, Maren Eggert (2003-2010) and Sibel Kekilli (since 2010)||Kiel||24 (with Jung: 14, with Brandt: 8)|
|2006-2012||SR||Franz Kappl and Stephan Deininger||Maximilian Brückner and Gregor Weber||Saarbrücken||7|
|since 2008||SWR||Sebastian Bootz and Thorsten Lannert||Felix Klare and Richy Müller||Stuttgart||15|
|since 2008||MDR||Eva Saalfeld and Andreas Keppler||Simone Thomalla and Martin Wuttke||Leipzig||20 (two of them together with Ballauf and Schenk)|
|2008-2012||NDR||Cenk Batu||Mehmet Kurtulus||Hamburg||6|
|since 2010||HR||Felix Murot||Ulrich Tukur||Wiesbaden||4|
|2011–2015||HR||Conny Mey and Frank Steier||Nina Kunzendorf und Joachim Król||Frankfurt||7 (with Mey: 5)|
|since 2011||SRF||Reto Flückiger and Liz Ritschard||Stefan Gubser and Delia Mayer||Lucerne||7 (with Ritschard: 6)|
|since 2012||WDR||Peter Faber, Martina Bönisch, Nora Dalay and Daniel Kossik||Jörg Hartmann, Anna Schudt, Aylin Tezel and Stefan Konarske||Dortmund||5|
|since 2013||SR||Jens Stellbrink and Lisa Marx||Devid Striesow and Elisabeth Brück||Saarbrücken||4|
|since 2013||NDR||Nick Tschiller and Yalcin Gümer||Til Schweiger and Fahri Ogün Yardım||Hamburg||2|
|since 2013||NDR||Thorsten Falke and Katharina Lorenz||Wotan Wilke Möhring and Petra Schmidt-Schaller||Hamburg and other places in Northern Germany||3|
|2013–2014||MDR||Henry Funck, Maik Schaffert and Aline Grewel||Friedrich Mücke, Benjamin Kramme and Alina Levshin||Erfurt||2|
|since 2013||MDR||Lessing and Kira Dorn||Christian Ulmen and Nora Tschirner||Weimar||2|
Last update: February 28, 2015
Some Tatort episodes from the 1980s and 1990s included songs that subsequently became quite well known, and two of them reached the top of the charts: "Faust auf Faust (Schimanski)" by Klaus Lage from the Tatort movie Zahn um Zahn, and "Midnight Lady" by Chris Norman, written by Dieter Bohlen, which appears on the episode "Der Tausch". Some random selected soundtracks:
|Artist||Title song||Episode||Year||TV station|
|Can||"Vitamin C"||Tote Taube in der Beethovenstraße||1973||WDR|
|Tangerine Dream||"Das Mädchen auf der Treppe"||"Das Mädchen auf der Treppe"||1981||WDR|
|Warning||"Why Can The Bodies Fly"||"Peggy hat Angst"||1982||SWF|
|Tangerine Dream||"Daydream – Moorland"||"Miriam"||1983|
|Jil Anderson||"Without You (Baby, Baby)"||"Haie vor Helgoland"||1984||NDR|
|Mark Spiro||"Winds Of Change"||"Das Haus im Wald"||1985||WDR|
|Patricia Simpson||"Dreams In The City"||"Nachtstreife"||1985||ORF|
|Die Toten Hosen||"Verschwende deine Zeit"||"Voll auf Haß"||1986||NDR|
|Sandra||"Stop For A Minute"||"Salü Palu"||1987||SR|
|Roger Chapman||"Slap Bang in the Middle"||"Einzelhaft"||1988||WDR|
|Bonnie Tyler||"Against The Wind"||"Der Fall Schimanski"||1991||WDR|
|Wolf Maahn||"Cool"||"Der Mörder und der Prinz"||1992||WDR|
|Markus Küpper||"Sie hat Schluß gemacht"||"Ein ehrenwertes Haus"||1994||MDR|
|Ben Becker||"Alter Mann"||"Falsches Alibi"||1995||MDR|
- ""Ehrenpreis der Jury": Gunther Witte". MDR.de. Das Erste. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- "Schade, Tatort+ ist zu Ende!" (in German). Das Erste. nd. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- "Besondere Ehrung für das Format "Tatort"" (in German). Grimme Institut. nd. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- Barbara Möller (29 January 2014). ""Tatort" erhält Besondere Ehrung beim Grimme-Preis". Die Welt (in German) (Axel Springer). Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- "Tatort". fernsehlexikon. nd. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- Himmelman, Michael (26 August 2009), "German Viewers Love Their Detectives on ‘Tatort’", New York Times.
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