Viewers are in love with Van Der Valk

Sunday: Van Der Valk - (ITV, 8pm)

By Claire Cartmill
Saturday, 6th August 2022, 5:00 pm
Van Det Valk and Lucienne Hassell
Van Det Valk and Lucienne Hassell

Want to go Dutch?

Well, if you’re a crime drama addict looking for your latest televisual fix, you’re about to do so. That’s because iconic Amsterdam-based police detective Piet Van Der Valk is heading back to our screens.

He started out as the central character in a series of novels by British author Nicolas Freeling. They were hugely successful, but Freeling grew so tired of him that he killed him off in 1972. However, Van Der Valk was revived by ITV the same year.

Barry Foster was cast as the cynical but effective ‘tec, who pulled no punches (literally in some cases) while dealing with his home city’s villains. The first run was a hit with viewers and it returned for further episodes in 1973 and 1977 before going on hiatus for 14 years; another two seasons aired in the early 1990s.

A couple of years ago, Van Der Valk returned again, this time with former Hustle star Marc Warren in the title role. Unfortunately, the three-part series upset some fans of the original show by not using its iconic theme – Eye Level by Jack Trombey, which reached No 1 in the UK charts in 1973.

While speaking about the revamp with Lorraine Kelly, Warren was keen to stress some of the new show’s selling points: “What’s different about our one is that it’s more of a team. We have just got a fantastic group of actors which kind of reminds me of Hustle in a way. If you didn’t like one character, there was always someone else you might want to watch.

“We didn’t want to have the sort of typical view of Amsterdam, the Red Light District and everybody getting stoned in cafes and stuff.”

The original Barry Foster series are currently being repeated on nostalgia channel Talking Pictures TV, creating new interest in the character from those who saw the programme during its original run. Newcomers just catching up are falling in love with the detective too; no doubt many of them tuned into the first run of the revamp to find out how Warren interpreted the role. One person who hasn’t been tuning in is Warren himself.

“I didn’t watch the original again,” he admits, having watched it with his grandparents in the 1970s. “It’s just me coming in saying the lines. Different costume, different team and just doing our best.”

The first run went down well with viewers in 2020 and a second was immediately commissioned. Unfortunately, Covid-19 restrictions delayed filming, so fans have had a long wait for the follow-up, which finally reaches British screens (it was broadcast in the US last autumn) this week.

The opening episode, entitled Plague in Amsterdam, sees the Dutch detective investigate the murder of solicitor Susie de Windt. Her body was found on a wind farm with the figure ‘X’ carved into her stomach; a cryptic note is discovered inside her coat.

The prime suspects are a group of squatters she helped evict, but as usual, there’s far more to the case than meets the eye.