The Tunnel (3 stars)

The Tunnel

Geographical remake of The Bridge doesn’t quite cross over

Of all the recent Scandic TV dramas to make their way to the UK, many votes for the finest programme have landed not with The Killing or Borgen (and certainly not the largely tiresome Arne Dahl), but with The Bridge. That show kicked off with the wholly original idea of a corpse discovered slap bang on a border, with one half in Sweden and the other 50% in Denmark. This enabled two very different police officers to be embroiled in a case featuring politicians, prostitutes, journalists, net-based intrigue, a strange woman with a wig and a yet stranger man with a fabulously 70s mouser.

Fans of this quirkily downbeat show revelled in the relationship between the two cops: Malmö’s Saga Norén, brilliant at her job but whose outwardly eccentric behavioural patterns seem shaped by Asperger’s; and Copenhagen’s Martin Rohde, brilliant at his job though exasperated with Saga’s methods while struggling with his own family matters and a recently applied vasectomy. The finale was as devastating as anything Sarah Lund had thrown at her, and a second series couldn’t (but hasn’t) come quickly enough to these shores.

Instead, we have this serviceable remake which, inevitably, would be absolutely brilliant had The Bridge never existed. On this occasion, the body is found in the Channel Tunnel, giving us a more recognisable cultural clash between a French and British cop duo. Mercurial detective, Capitaine Elise Wassermann (Clémence Poésy) has little grasp of social niceties and thinks nothing of calling up her new Anglo colleague in the middle of the night for a detail which could easily wait a few hours. DCI Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane) shares the wit and quasi-buffoonery of his Danish template but we’ll have to wait and see whether his story’s trajectory takes a similarly bleak journey.

Given that this decent reconstructed Bridge follows on from that perfectly adequate US adaptation of The Killing, perhaps it’s time the European Union passes a law protecting original dramas from aggressively ok-ish remakes. But for those who judge a show by its theme tune, the sinister, nursery rhyme-like theme tune here simply isn’t a patch on Choir of Young Believers’ stirring ‘Hollow Talk’ for The Bridge.

The Tunnel starts on Sky Atlantic, Wednesday 16 October, 9pm.