Sir Ken­neth Branagh on Wallander’s last cases.

WALLANDER | Ken­neth Branagh and di­rec­tor Ben­jamin Caron on the de­tec­tive’s farewell...

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Eight years on from the first episode, Ken­neth Branagh’s Kurt Wallander has bowed out with a fourth and fi­nal se­ries. As you’d ex­pect, the team be­hind the drama are now re­flect­ing on its suc­cess. “Was that the be­gin­ning of what be­came Nordic Noir?” asks Wallander di­rec­tor Ben­jamin Caron of the 2008 se­ries. “It cer­tainly opened up an in­ter­est in that par­tic­u­lar type of drama.”

Branagh ad­mits there was a “big con­ver­sa­tion” be­fore they de­cided to do an English­language ver­sion filmed in Ystad, the set­ting of Hen­ning Mankell’s nov­els. “There were lots of doubts,” Branagh re­calls. “Be­cause you think, ‘Okay, so English guy drives up to a Swedish street sign, how does that work?’ We just ac­cepted there would be a point up to which you could go where you’re of­fer­ing a Scan­di­na­vian flavour.”

The vast, flat land­scape of south­ern Swe­den is also a key char­ac­ter in this se­ries, though Branagh con­cedes that Mankell’s “po­etic imag­i­na­tion” was at work in the books. “I al­ready felt what I read was not go­ing to be what I found [ in Ystad] and that was true,” he says of film­ing the first se­ries. “Some­body came for the week­end and said, ‘This is a bit like Bas­ingstoke isn’t it?’ They kind of ex­pected it to be a bit more arid and Nordic.”

In Se­ries 4, Wallander has a stronger re­la­tion­ship with his daugh­ter and he’s close to his grand­daugh­ter. “In Wallander terms, he’s happy at the start of the show,” says Branagh. “Un­for­tu­nately, it comes at ex­actly the mo­ment when – in the same poignant way as this con­nec­tion to his grand­daugh­ter – he also seems to have a ge­netic con­nec­tion to his fa­ther that means he is now chal­lenged by de­men­tia.”

Fol­low­ing the open­ing film set in South Africa, the fi­nal two episodes are based on Mankell’s last Wallander novel, The Trou­bled Man. “There’s a race against time that be­comes a phe­nom­e­nal drive,” says Branagh of the de­tec­tive’s ef­forts to solve a case that threat­ens his fam­ily. Wallander’s fail­ing health is pow­er­fully por­trayed by Branagh, who’s al­ready won a Bafta for this role as the brood­ing Swedish cop. “I was glad when those scenes were done,” he adds. “They’re both a plea­sure and a priv­i­lege to play but they do get un­der the skin a bit.”

The film­ing of the fi­nal se­ries oc­curred amid a se­ri­ous ill­ness for Mankell, who died last Oc­to­ber. “Hen­ning was ill at that time, we saw him and just the weight of know­ing that things were very tough for him, the ex­pe­ri­ence was loaded,” says Branagh. He de­scribes the au­thor, who of­ten vis­ited the set of Wallander over the years, as an “in­spi­ra­tion”.

Wallander Se­ries 4 is avail­able on BBC iplayer and www.bbc­store.com.

“SOME­BODY CAME TO YSTAD AND SAID ‘IT’S A BIT LIKE BAS­INGSTOKE, ISN’T IT?’”

Linda (Jeany Spark) re­pairs her re­la­tion­ship with fa­ther Kurt (Ken­neth Branagh, above) in Se­ries 4.

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