Socialist Worker

Wallander goes to South Africa for township tension

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2505

The BBC’s fourth series of detective drama Wallander, the first since author Henning Mankell died last year, remains fresh.

The first episode, The White Lioness, looks at South Africa through the prism of the “Scandinavian noir” crime genre.

When Inge Hedemann, a Swedish national, goes missing Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) abandons an international police conference and gets to work.

The lead suspects are husband Axel and prison gang member Mobasha.

Kenneth Brannagh plays Swedish detective Wallander

Kenneth Brannagh plays Swedish detective Wallander

With Scandinavian noir’s reliance on bleak landscapes and moody atmospherics, the setting may seem strange.

But the genre’s pioneers, communist writers Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, used crime drama to uncover what they saw as a criminal society.


Mankell has peered underneath Sweden’s liberal veneer to uncover racism and corruption.

The first episode nods to this repeatedly.

Max Khulu, head of the local tourism board and once a “communist firebrand”, now wants police to keep white tourists safe.

Travelling through a township, Wallander stumbles across a left wing election rally, with a speaker berating the ruling ANC’s betrayals.

These nods seemed more subtle in Mankell’s originals, now they seem contrived.

The plot can be hard to follow. Mankell’s original storyline for The White Lioness from the 1990s—about a plot to assassinate Nelson Mandela—was more ambitious and better structured.

But it won’t be hard for a new audience to get into the series.

The great British graphic novel exhibition

This exhibition showcases graphic novels from A Harlot’s Progress by Hogarth in 1732 to 1980s classics V for Vendetta and Watchmen.

The exhibition includes a full colour cover and four pages from Charley’s War, which tells the story of an underage soldier in the First World War.

The Cartoon Museum is celebrating its tenth anniversary and will host a number of linked events over the summer.

Cartoon Museum, London cartoonmuseum.orgUntil 24 July£7, free for under-18s

Armando Iannucci—Facts and Fancies

Writer and satirist Armando Iannucci presents essays on topics from greetings cards to dictators across five 15-minute episodes.

Radio 4 and BBC iPlayer, Saturdays, 10.30pm

The Out Laws

The Out-Laws is Channel 4’s version of Belgian comedy The Clan.

It tells the story of four sisters who conspire to kill off Jean-Claude, the hated husband of their fifth sister.

Jean-Claude is buried in the first episode and flashbacks tell his story.

But it seems the sisters weren’t the only ones who wanted him dead.

And they face another battle as they fight for a payout on Jean-Claude’s life insurance policy.

Channel 4 and on walterpresents.comDue to be screened early June

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Article information

Tue 24 May 2016, 16:05 BST
Issue No. 2505
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