With Wales’s Y Gwyll ‘Hinterland’ crime drama taking the world by storm, a leading television scholar asks how a programme so “authentically local” can appeal to millions internationally.
Edge Hill University’s Elke Weissmann, a Reader in Film and Television, has written about the Welsh language drama for a chapter in a newly published book ‘European Television Crime Drama and Beyond.’
Pulling together theories on the newly coined term ‘transnationalism’, Elke discusses the success of Hinterland, watched by 560,000 viewers in Wales; 700,000 in the UK and over 4.4m people in Germany. She said:
“The term ‘transnationalism’ has replaced the word ‘globalisation’ which recognises that television is no longer dominated by American culture, but that regional centres also shape the exchange of programming. With the success of programmes worldwide such as talent shows, production companies are now making more programmes which are intensely local and transnational at the same time, thereby appealing to global audiences.
“Crime dramas are a great example of this, with Y Gwyll ‘Hinterland’ following in the footsteps of popular international dramas including Sweden’s The Killing and Italy’s Montalbano. Hinterland was filmed in rural Wales and by focussing on Ceredigion and Aberystwyth instead of the traditional economic centre of Cardiff it represents the authentic local to Welsh residents.
“It’s a success locally because of where it’s set, who it appeals to, the stories it tells and the way the crimes and images are connected to a specific Welsh narrative. But nationally it’s repositioned for a UK audience as a cosmopolitan European crime drama with over 700,000 viewers tuning in to series one shown on BBC Four.
“Depicting a struggle between patriarchal masculinities in the Ceredigion countryside against the new urban feminised modernity of Aberystwyth, the show speaks to a British elite audience, positioning itself in the transnational realm.”
“Then there’s the vast European audience. Sold in over 150 countries and branded as ‘Celtic Noir’ it reflects a strong pocket of European cultural identity and heritage. Looking at Wales through a tourist lens it appeals to a European audience offering a glimpse of rural, sweeping landscapes and Welsh culture thereby helping to facilitate greater cultural integration.”
Elke teaches in Edge Hill’s Department of Media. The department offers industry relevant programmes in animation, film and television underpinned by staff research. Find out more here.