Hinterland: creating stories out of the landscape

Monday 30 December 2013, 11:00

Ed Talfan Ed Talfan

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Every nation needs a detective show to call its own. Wales bizarrely didn't have one so we wanted to put that right with Hinterland. We were also passionate about working with Richard Harrington; we had all worked with him before and felt that there was an intensity about him that he'd bring to the part (which I think he delivers in spades).

Richard Harrington as Mathias. Image copyright: Fiction Factory/S4C/All3Media/Tinopolis Richard Harrington as Mathias. Image copyright: Fiction Factory/S4C/All3Media/Tinopolis

In terms of the location, obviously it's a back-to-back show so we were looking for authenticity in both English and Welsh. It would have been difficult to develop the series in one of the urban centres, like Cardiff or Swansea so we decided to go for something more in the Welsh heartland.

We ended up going with Aberystwyth because there is a stark beauty to it. It feels like the last place - it's the end of the railway line and there's an inherent drama to it because of that.

All four stories were really grown out of the landscape. Episode one focuses on Devil's Bridge. Two and a half years ago I went there and took some photos. It was November, raining, there were no leaves on the trees and everything was covered in moss. The Hafod hotel next to it was wonderfully imposing and I thought, 'we have to have an episode that uses the legend of Devil's Bridge'.

Each of the episodes was grown out of things we discovered around there. The research process was terrific as we got to discover a new part of Wales on a personal level, but in terms of story it was an area that just kept on giving.

Richard Harrington and Mali Harries. Image copyright: Fiction Factory/S4C/All3Media/Tinopolis Richard Harrington and Mali Harries. Image: Fiction Factory/S4C/All3Media/Tinopolis

The landscape of west Wales bizarrely hasn't really been seen on network television. It's a stunning place though sometimes quite tricky to film in. There are no motorways in Ceredigion and we were filming from November through to May.

There were two days where we had to shut the shoot down due to snow. It was quite hostile for a couple of weeks in March when we were filming in a forest and it was -8°C. But in episode four, the sun finally came out and we had a couple of glorious weeks on the marshlands in Borth. It was nice to see the cast and crew eating ice creams at last instead of freezing!

We wanted Hinterland to be an indigenous Welsh drama. The show is top-to-toe Welsh talent - Welsh producers, Welsh directors, Welsh writers, Welsh cast and a Welsh crew. We wanted to raise the bar to show what is being done in Wales with Welsh talent. Our guiding principles were that we wanted Hinterland to be grown-up, dark and sinewy and to have an energy and a boldness.

Ed Talfan is the producer of Hinterland. You can watch the first episode of Hinterland on Saturday 4 January at 9.30pm on BBC One Wales.

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 41.

    Caught this accidentally on iplayer and was immediately hooked. Brilliant casting, excellent scenery and cracking story lines. Should go to mainstream tv to replace some of the stale programmes that come back year after year. When's it coming back?

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    Comment number 42.

    I live in New Zealand and have just seen the entire series....brilliant. Series 2 plese.

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    Comment number 43.

    I had just booked my holiday in Borth the day before I watched the first episode so was surprised to see DCI Mathias coming down the hill into Borth near the beginning of episode 1. Then a feeling of disquiet as it transpired that the murder victim's name was Helen Jenkins - a past name of mine when I was married. An additional synchronous detail is that a later and my longest term relationship is with a man whose surname is Matthias. I shall enjoy doing a Hinterland tour of the locations used when I'm in West Wales!

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    Comment number 44.

    Yes, Good old BBC gave us the first on BBC4 and what a great surprize to see the old AA box standing proud where I as a child in the 50's first saw it. Iconic. As detective stories go it was good, bordering on excellent in places. Although in the back of my mind is the feeling that people may get when entering the Hafod Arms Hotel at Pontarfynach, which I have had the pleasure of staying at and enjoying a meal. Had this been based on fact I may not have enjoyed my stay too much as the room looked suspiciously like the one I stayed in. In comparison to the tried and tested Midsomer Murders, this stood head and shoulders above, and gave us more with less. Some feel that the plot was given away when the culprit was first seen at a bedroom window, but for me it wasn't clear until later on until they interviewed her husband. Lots of visual feedback with facial expressions, where words couldn't express the feelings. Top acting. When is the Hollywood Blockbuster version coming? Wish I had a gong to give you... well done!

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    Comment number 45.

    Incidentally why did they pick my birthday for the date when she used to return to the hotel SPOOKY!!!

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    Comment number 46.

    Saw episode 1 on BBC4 last night and echo the comments of other posters -- why has this high quality programme been hidden under a bushel? As there is a bit of Welsh in it, it would surely have qualified as foreign enough for the Saturday evening slot rather than a spring Monday. Better (imo) than the 2 Italian detectives that have been featured in the Saturday night slot..

    My only, minor, complaint is that although an hour and a half is great, it could have been stretched with a slower pace (a la Nordic model) over a longer time with more twists and turns in the plot or the twists and turns in the existing plot being exploited more. Still, an excellent and innovative show. Oh... and it kicks last week's dire Jamaica Inn out of the park!

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    Comment number 47.

    Just watched Hinterland, enjoyed the drama, very much. I thought it captured the dark underbelly that there is in rural life. I only lived in Ceredigion for ten years in the middle of a rural farming community but I certainly saw and heard of some very base human behaviour. I also lived in a very vibrant and caring community that I miss to this day. Hinterland brought back the wonderful countryside, spots that I recognised on the screen. My aunt still lives in Llangranog, we try to get back every year to catch up with family friends and a different way of life than living in the south east of England. Looking forward to next episode.

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    Comment number 48.

    I agree with previous comments - just caught the first episode on iplayer and am hugely impressed! The camerawork is superb - of course the locations are amazing but there was also a lot of unusual and telling closeup work. The cast were all impressive: Richard Harrington gave a wonderful performance of emotional depth and the relationships between the various police officers were well developed. The storyline was deeply moving but not emotionally manipulative, and I thought the use of music was outstanding. Altogether an outstanding piece and I can't understand why it's not being showcased in prime time on BBC1.

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    Comment number 49.

    I am really delighted that this part of Wales is being recognised for its beauty. I've been visiting the area for many many years as it's always been a bolt hole for me to unwind and relax ( at the Hafod Arms!) To see it featured on TV is thrilling and it is about time that Wales was recognised on mainstream television. It makes me proud, as an Englishwoman, to hear the Welsh language because we should recognise what a diverse island we live on.

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    Comment number 50.

    I watched Hinterland on BBC Wales. This combination of Welsh and English is exactly how it is in West Wales, we hear both languages in this wonderful mixture. It makes the series utterly believable as well as edge of the seat dramatic.

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    Comment number 51.

    To all those, presumably residents of Wales, who posted their disappointment that this program wasn't being shared with those further afield I am pleased to say that it was worth the wait. Having only seen the first episode so far, and that on i-Player after it was originally aired, I can say it is one of the best crime dramas I have seen in years. The crime scene at the beginning was one of the goriest things I have ever seen on TV, outside pictures from war zones on the evening news. I particularly enjoyed the mixture of languages, done very well, that showed Welsh is a living language used by many in their daily lives. Well done BBC, yours a happy licence fee payer.

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    Comment number 52.

    I'm sorry to be a little negative but...I find the series wonderful, the actors supreme, the landscapes mythical but...isn't this just Wallander transposed to a Welsh environment...or is it just me ? Two female compatriots - one blonde (and tetchy), one brunette (with a soft spot for the boss) and the geek (who always gets the proper lead)...The final shot of episode 2 was classic - all together staring at the flames...Wallander or what ?? Add in the moody landscape shots and music...it's lovely and I love it but what about the copyright ???

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    Comment number 53.

    This is the second time round for me to watch it here in Northern Ireland, love the mixture of Welsh and English, love the landscape, very rugged and remote, reminiscent of the scandi-noir filming!

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    Comment number 54.

    Please note there has been a previous welsh detective, DCI Bain played by Philip Madoc. 4 TV series on S4C and channel 5.

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    Comment number 55.

    Bendigedig. Tro nesa Bbc4 - defnyddio mwy o Cymraeg.

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    Comment number 56.

    Has anyone seen 35 Diwrnod yet?

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    Comment number 57.

    Hinterland is great! Surely Wales's answer to Wallander?

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    Comment number 58.

    Brilliantly captured, brilliantly acted too, Myself and my wife have stayed at the Hafod hotel and explored Devils Bridge , and I instantly recognised the hotel. We live in Lincolnshire which has its own Wolds but is relatively flat fenlands , love the Lakes , Wales and Cornwall. I have watched all the episodes up to now and looking forward to the next one ,Well done again
    Derek Edwards

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    Comment number 59.

    As a Croydon boy who lived in Knighton on the Welsh border for 5 years ( my youngest was born in the front room, so is Welsh....hoping he can still get free Uni education in 11 years time!!!)....i think this series is stunning. I loved the drive from Knighton to Aber and the beach at Borth and this series is superbly filmed to capture the stark beauty of this landscape. Acting, story, direction, production design all top notch. London salutes you....another series please.

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    Comment number 60.

    does Richard Harrington remind anyone else of William Petersen (Will Graham) from the film Manhunter? A compliment btw.

 

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