Foreign Bodies - A History Of Modern Europe Through Literary Detectives

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
OMNI01Poirot, Maigret, Martin Beck, Van Der Valk, Boruvka And Barlach20121026

Mark Lawson uses crime fiction to trace modern Czech, German, Swedish and Dutch history.

: A History Of Modern Europe Through Literary Detectives

Crime fiction reflects society's tensions. Helped by famous literary detectives including Maigret, Montalbano, Dalgliesh and Wallander, Mark Lawson shows how crimes reflect Europe's times from the world wars of the 20th century to the Eurozone crisis and nationalist tensions of the 21st.

Beginning with the template set by Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Georges Simenon's Jules Maigret. Mark Lawson hears from Val McDermid, Lord Grey Gowrie, Andrea Camilleri, PD James and David Suchet.

We move to a Swiss view of Germany in the novels of Friedrich Dürrenmatt which explore guilt, responsibility and justice after World War II. Contributions come from Ferdinand von Schirach, Simon McBurney, Josie Rourke, Hollywood scriptwriters Jerzy Kromolowski and Mary Olson-Kromolowski; and Professor Katharina Hall (aka Mrs Peabody Investigates)

Josef Skvorecký's depiction of Czech history is discussed by translator (and former member of the Plastic People of the Universe) Paul Wilson. After his novel The Cowards was banned by the Communist authorities, Skvorecký began the Lieutenant Boruvka series.

Inspector Van Der Valk brought an image of Holland to '70s viewers of the TV dramatisations starring Barry Foster. Mark Lawson finds out the Dutch view of Nicholas Freeling's cop from best seller Saskia Voort

The Martin Beck crime novels written by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö deliberately traced changes in Swedish society between 1965 and 1975. Their influence is discussed by Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, Åsa Larsson, Camilla Lackberg, Jens Lapidus and Gunnar Staalesen.

BBC Radio 4 is dramatising all 10 Martin Beck novels starring Steven Mackintosh as Beck and Neil Pearson as Kollberg.

OMNI02Wexford, Dalgliesh, Montalbano, Carvalho, Rogas And Dci Jane Tennison20121102

PD James' Adam Dalgliesh and Ruth Rendell's Reginald Wexford first appeared in novels written in 1962 and 1964.

Mark Lawson continues his series about the way crime fiction has depicted modern European history by looking at the shifts in UK society they have encountered from rural racism and road rage to fears about changes in the Church of England and the rise of an environmental movement.

You can hear an extended interview with PD James on the Front Row Crime Writers' Archive.

Producer: Robyn Read.