Steve Thompson (Writer)
Vienna Blood (3x90’) is written by acclaimed screenwriter Steve Thompson (Sherlock, Deep State). Based on the best-selling Liebermann novels by Frank Tallis, the series will air on BBC Two this winter.
We’ve seen lots of dramas, lots of police dramas about that relationship where psychological profiling is done in order to understand a killer but this is the birth of the process, this is 1906 and it had never been done before - so what we’re witnessing in this show is the beginning of that process.
What drew you to Frank Tallis’ books?
Frank Tallis has written these three fantastic novels that we’ve adapted the show from. And Frank is a psychologist and has a great historical knowledge of the science of the period. But more than anything he knows Vienna, and the period detail in the books is just extraordinary. And actually I didn’t know Vienna when I first read the book but the way it introduces you to the city and the period and the world is so detailed and so rich, I think that’s what drew me in. Frank’s relationship with Vienna just jumps off the page - he says: "Welcome to this city, come and enjoy this city, I love it and you will love it too," and that I think is very enticing.
Can you describe the writing process?
Always when you’re developing a screenplay it can be quite a long journey. Of course, this is an adaptation of the books so there’s Frank's vision originally and then you go through various drafts of the script before you finally see it being filmed. The key thing is that’s a very collaborative process; Frank is one voice then there is my voice when I turn it into a screenplay then there are the voices of the directors; we’ve had two really great directors Robert Dornhlem and Umut Dag who have directed these three episodes between them. And quite a lot of the development is a conversation between the director and the writer and also the producers. So there’s many voices in the room and that’s what makes the script more robust and richer one would hope as a result.”
What is your favourite scene?
There have been so many scenes to watch being filmed. I suppose one of the key things about it is that the entire show is filmed on location in Vienna. And Vienna is a key character and consequently every scene we got to a different place, a different ballroom, a different salon, a different part of this incredible city. Part of the fun of filming it has been me gradually having an understanding of Vienna and getting to know Vienna. We’ve seen some amazing places, so today we’re filming in the opera which is where one of the climaxes of one of the episodes takes place. So we’ve had two days in the opera house with the opera singers performing and that’s been quite extraordinary.
What is Vienna Blood about?
The show is about a birth of a science. It’s about the birth of psychiatry, neurology and the understanding of the human brain and it’s essentially a crime thriller but the main relationship in the series is between two men; a policeman who is trying to solve a murder and a young psychiatrist from the hospital who he consults to help him build up an understanding of the killer. We’ve seen lots of dramas, lots of police dramas about that relationship where psychological profiling is done in order to understand a killer but this is the birth of the process, this is 1906 and it had never been done before - so what we’re witnessing in this show is the beginning of that process. The police just beginning to understand that psychology and psychiatry can actually help them solve a murder.
What is the role of the Executive Producer?
I’ve been an Executive Producer on this show as well as being a writer, they are two quite different roles actually. As a writer your work gradually eases off as you enter filming. And as you start getting closer and closer to filming, you’ve done most of your work before the show starts filming give or take one or two little re-writes as you go along. Almost everything you’re going to do you’ve done beforehand and you become progressively less necessary as the show goes on - if I was only here as a writer on this show basically, I’d spend my time when I was here making cups of tea for the cast or just saying "good morning" or just getting in people’s way. But I’ve also been an Executive Producer and it’s good to have an Exec on hand just to be the glue between all the various parts. The crew is huge, there’s a large company of actors and I guess an Executive Producer is the focus for all of those people in just helping co-ordinate the show and that’s been a fun job too.