Beck kicks off with its new eighth season

Saturday: Beck; (BBC4, 9pm)

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 5:00 pm

It’s not such a long time ago that it seemed the entire world went completely bonkers for HBO’s extravagant fantasy drama Game of Thrones, based on the unfinished series of novels from George RR Martin.

It was particularly noteworthy for the fans gnashing their teeth while waiting for the final series to hit their screens.

Although the end of that particular saga may have left millions of them wishing that they’d never bothered to make it in the first place, the same can’t be said of this finely crafted Swedish drama series.

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Alexandra Beijer and Martin Beck
Alexandra Beijer and Martin Beck

It too has literary roots. It is based on characters created by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, who between them wrote a series of 10 police procedural novels chronicling the exploits of detectives from the special homicide commission of the Swedish national police.

Their stories were turned into several films – including a 1973 adaptation called The Laughing Policeman, starring Walter Matthau.

This TV version originally aired all the way back in 1997 and four series were ground out between 2001 and 2009, before good old Auntie Beeb spotted its potential as part of a bundle of international crime dramas. They snapped it up in 2015, introducing us to Peter Haber as Stockholm detective Martin Beck, who investigates murders and serious crimes along with his partner Gunvald Larsson.

The UK run actually began with episode two from series four, a cracker of a cat-and-mouse story involving a serial killer, a series of wooden boxes and an event from Beck’s dim and distant past.

Like all great Nordic Noir, the series has gone down a storm with UK viewers, who were hooked by its complex plots and superb cast. Even better, series six introduced Beck’s somewhat hot-headed sidekick Steinar Hovland, played by Kristofer Hivju, who proved there was far more to him than GOT’s Tormund Giantsbane.

Beck fans have had to bide their time, sometimes for up to four years between series (take that Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen lovers), but each time it returned to the screen, it was like welcoming back a much-loved old friend.

This edition kicks off the eighth season of the drama. While there’s no news on a potential ninth, there’s plenty to get our teeth into, as a young gang member is murdered and the clues point to a drug network.

Klas Freden has had the network under surveillance for a long time and the Beck team, headed by Alex Beijer, is allowed to work alongside the investigation. However, a growing tension between Freden and Beijer soon sees Beck, now Rotel manager, become involved in the case, a move that breathes new life into him. Meanwhile, Steinar is having a harder time, torn between work and longing for his children in Oslo.

Insiders said the pressure on the Beck group will be fierce during the course of season eight, as they deal with tough investigations and emotional upheavals.

We wouldn’t have it any other way. Welcome back, Beck. It’s been a long wait, but we’re delighted to see you.

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