John Griffin is the producer on BBC’s Baptiste crime series and third episode was on last night and here from the BBC themselves he chats about producing the new series…
Could you talk us through what Baptiste is about, giving a brief overview without giving us any spoilers?
Baptiste is the continuing story of Julien Baptiste who is the detective from the two series of The Missing. We left him as a man about to have a brain operation, we find him a couple of years later recovered, visiting his daughter in Amsterdam. He is in Amsterdam as a parent who has slightly over-stayed his welcome visiting his new grandchild but very quickly gets caught up in a missing person case through an old acquaintance of his who is a police chief in Amsterdam. The show takes us on what we think is going to be another missing person case but very quickly becomes something much darker and more exciting.
What’s the most exciting thing about the series?
We have quite an incredible cast of actors. We have Tchéky Karyo and Anastasia Hille who play Julien Baptiste and his wife, we have Tom Hollander, we have Jessica Raine who plays an Interpol detective, we have two fantastic Belgian actors Barbara Sarafian and Boris Van Severen, and a lot of other really great guest characters coming through but working with those six is really fantastic.
Have there been any challenges filming in Amsterdam and Belgium?
The challenge in Amsterdam is bicycles, because they are everywhere! However much you try to control the traffic you cannot stop the bikes, they get round barriers, and they get round people. I describe them as being like mosquitos. The traffic is pretty bad both in the centre of Amsterdam and in Belgium generally which is a slight problem.
There is obviously also a bit of a language barrier – Dutch is quite an alien language to the English, though I think that makes things more interesting and fun really rather than a terrible challenge. We are working with a fantastic Belgian co-production company and crew and they are incredibly helpful and help with everything. Bicycles are the answer actually, that’s all.
Does the show have a particular visual style? What’s different about it?
The theme we have talked a lot about is ‘everything is not as it seems’. We see a world, whether it’s the Red Light windows of Amsterdam or Tom Hollander’s character Edward, nothing is as it seems, and we’ve played with that in a visual style. There is a lot of looking at the world through glass where things are slightly distorted, where the light changes things, where we see reflections and it has become a kind of motif of how you look at the world.
In fact Julien has a line which I love where he says, “we see somebody looking through a window and we think that they are looking at somebody inside but they’re not, they’re just looking at their own reflection” and it points out how we just sometimes miss everything around us. Julien is the one looking through the window, because he sees things and that’s what makes him interesting as a detective. For the director, Borkur, it has really given him a sense of what he is looking for. We are looking in a hall of mirrors at what is right and what is wrong and what is distorted. That sets it apart from most shows, particularly The Missing.
Why should viewers watch Baptiste?
That’s easy. You’re going to go on the most fantastic ride of uncovering for three hours, finding out what is going on and what this mystery is, and at the point that you start to work it out, you are then thrown into a spiral of events that start to unfold right before you. It is a fantastic ride. The first time I read the script I had to write down to remember how excited I felt reading it, because that is what we have to translate onto screen, and hopefully we have achieved most of that and we have a really exciting can’t-turn-away show.