Annika bring viewers into the drama

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Saturday: Annika (BBC One, 9.05pm)

If an idea’s worth tackling, it’s worth tackling twice.

Well, that’s what some TV producers seem to think anyway. That’s why, when a show does well on radio, it occasionally transfers to TV. It’s often regarded as a promotion, although there are some listeners who claim they still prefer the original incarnations of their favourite shows; others remain blissfully unaware of their origins.

For some reason it tends to be comedies that make the jump. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Mighty Boosh, Count Arthur Strong, Little Britain, The League of Gentlemen and Knowing Me, Knowing You are just a handful to do so over the years. But there’s one major drama that’s also successfully transferred – Annika, which started life as Annika Stranded back in 2013, and told stories purely from the central character’s point of view.

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It’s making its debut on BBC One this week, but the series originally aired on the Alibi channel two years ago. Why it took so long to leap from the airwaves to the small screen is a mystery; perhaps its star, Nicola Walker, was deemed not well known enough to carry her own TV series back in the day. That’s certainly not the case now – her lead roles in The Split and Unforgotten have proved she’s more than capable of keeping an audience’s attention.

If you’ve never heard the radio series and/or missed the Alibi run, here’s a quick rundown of what to expect: Annika started out as a detective working for Oslo’s police force, but on TV, she’s moved to Scotland to head Glasgow’s Maritime Homicide Unit (MHU).

As is often the case with small-screen cops, her home life isn’t exactly straightforward thanks to her daughter Morgan, the very epitome of a troubled teen. They’re often locking horns, as are Annika and her former police college classmate, DS Michael McAndrews (Guilt’s Jamie Sives) – he doesn’t take kindly to her arrival, having fancied her job himself.

As with the radio show, the scripts have been written by Nick Walker (who, despite the similarity of their names, is no relation to the star).

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“When he started talking about a television series, my first question was, how would you populate the world which has previously only been in Annika’s head?” Nicola remarked while speaking to PBS, who broadcast the series in the US.

“Nick said immediately, ‘we’re going to break the fourth wall!’ So, she still has Norwegian heritage, she is still an outsider, and she still has a different way of coping with life and work, but the hook is the fact that this is the only detective series where the audience is the silent sidekick. We are in cahoots with her.”

Those chats to camera are initially a little jarring, simply because we’re not used to such things, but they really do bring viewers into the drama. So sit back and enjoy as the series begins with Annika meeting her team before investigating a grisly murder involving a harpoon. Unfortunately, the only suspect is killed in a hit-and-run incident.

And if you enjoy this first run, then you’re in luck because a second has already begun filming.

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