The team behind hit drama series “The Missing” have expanded the universe, and Tcheky Karyo’s Julien Baptise is back in action. This time the French detective is helping a man (Tom Hollander) find his niece, a sex worker who has disappeared in Amsterdam. As with the earlier show, BAFTA-winning writers Harry Williams and Jack Williams created the series through their Two Brothers shingle. Ahead of launching on the BBC and being screened at the Drama Days event in Berlin, it has already sold widely and is set to light up schedules in 2019. Two Brothers’ head of drama and series executive producer Chris Aird lifts the lid on “Baptiste.”
How did a show using Tcheky Karyo’s Baptiste character come about?
Jack and Harry had a really clear sense that they wanted to expand the universe of ‘The Missing,’ that there was a lot left in that world they created. I think Tcheky’s character made such an impression in those first two series that [he] seemed an obvious jumping-off point. By stealth the character had presented himself almost, people have always responded so positively to him.
What is it about the character that people respond to?
Tcheky is a very soulful guy when you meet him and it comes though on the screen. ‘The Missing’ was a character piece first and foremost, Jack and Harry write character pieces, but then use thriller plots. For those reasons it looked like he was the best way to keep making shows set in this world.
What are the similarities and differences between ‘Baptiste’ and ‘The Missing’?
It is very much its own show. We set out to make a new show called ‘Baptiste,’ but it is set in the same world as ‘The Missing.’ There are tonal references as well as the character of Baptiste himself, his wife Celia, his child and his grandchild. We’re also using the same composer Dominik Scherrer – and so the music will help you feel like you are in the same world.
“Baptiste is his own man, and people will realize this is its own show”
It is also set up as a totally new show for people that did not catch ‘The Missing’?
Baptiste is his own man, and people will realize this is its own show. When people see episode one they will see the way it is set up and that they can come to it completely fresh. Of course, one of the reasons to do the show in this way is to expand the kinds of story we can tell.
Amsterdam looms large, was it all shot on location?
The story is set in Amsterdam and shot extensively there, and also lot in Belgium, in Antwerp and Ghent, doubling for Amsterdam. Ghent was particularly useful because built on canals so quite a nice match.
One half is exquisitely beautiful and the other side has this bizarre decadent sex industry powering it which is what our story is about, getting under the skin of that and really understanding the human cost.
What was the approach to filming in the city?
Borkur Sigthorsson who directed the first block really drew on Amsterdam as a character. He had clear ideas about how he wanted to film this, there’s a lot of work on long lenses making it feel very real, placing the characters in the world, getting out onto the street, looking through windows, looking into cafes.
What made “The Missing” work and why will viewers gravitate to “Baptiste”
I think there are a lot of writers who write beautiful characters and a lot of writers who write surprising plots with twists and turns and reveals, but I think there are few that do both. I think that’s what Jack and Harry manage to do.
Are we likely to see more “Baptiste” after this initial outing?
We certainly hope so. Our aspiration for the show is we set something up here that people will want to see more of.