Annika Stranded: bite-size Scandi crime

This top-quality series of short crime dramas started life as 15-minute audio episodes, starring the excellent actor Nicola Walker as Annika herself, a quirky, quick-witted Norwegian detective on the Oslo boat patrol. The series is now being filmed for TV, translated not just in format but also in location as it’ll now be based in the waterways of Scotland.

Before that comes to our screens, you should definitely indulge yourself with the original audio version. It’s brilliantly scripted, with each standalone episode featuring a criminal mystery for Annika to unravel. Sometimes there’s a dead body washed up on the shore; on other occasions she might have to solve the modern equivalent of the old ‘ice knife’ puzzle. Every plot is a little bit peculiar – certainly showing its Scandinavian / Nordic noir influences – and delightfully unpredictable.

Best of all, the stories are told by Annika herself, making wry observations and snarky asides about the crimes, the suspects, her colleagues and the bittersweet challenge of being a single woman with a demanding career. It’s astonishing how much background the writers manage to cram into such short segments; after a few episodes you rapidly become familiar with Annika’s childhood, her strong bond with Norway’s wild waters and her idiosyncratic methods for managing an investigation. If you like Saga Noren from The Bridge, then you’re going to adore Annika…

So although you can listen to individual episodes out of order, it makes more sense to start with the first of the 26 available adventures, and really appreciate the character as she matures through murder, burglary, kidnapping, arson, love, loss and motherhood.

The six-part TV series retains the original writer: yay! Even Annika’s name and the series title is a nifty piece of wordplay. Her surname is actually ‘Stranhed’, but the title accurately describes how often she finds herself adrift in normal social interactions. The first block of filming wrapped in early 2021. It’ll screen initially on Alibi – watch our FB feed for dates and further info.

10/10
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Annika Stranded is available as podcasts from BBC Sounds

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