Occasionally, a TV show comes along which is just... plain good fun. You know? Something which shines through all the grimly serious crime thrillers and super-clever psychological dramas. Something which cheers up a gloomy winter day when it feels like the UK has been enveloped in grey cloud for months and there's a general election looming and the world seems to be falling apart. Something exactly like The Mallorca Files.
Set on the sunny Spanish island of Mallorca, this 10-part BBC Daytime drama (co-produced with German channel ZDF) is written by Good Karma Hospital's Dan Sefton and features a brilliant partnership in the form of uptight British cop Miranda Blake (Elen Rhys) and laid-back German policeman Max Winter (Julian Looman).
- Where is The Mallorca Files filmed?
- Meet the cast of The Mallorca Files
- When is The Mallorca Files on TV? What's it about?
In the opening episode, DC Blake is in Palma de Mallorca to escort a star witness back to the UK: the gang-boss-turned-informant Niall Taylor (Aidan McArdle). To put things mildly, things do not go to plan.
Miranda soon finds herself paired with Max, a German police officer who has somehow ended up on permanent secondment with the Spanish police force. Together they form that classic "unlikely duo" beloved of buddy cop movies, but in a knowingly-naff kind of way with a heavy dose of sexual tension. Miranda is diligent, blunt, obsessive and angry; and despite the German stereotype, Max is the one who is chilled out and much more attuned to the Spanish pace of life. See what they did there?
Thankfully, The Mallorca Files is a drama which does not take itself too seriously. In tone, it's a bit like blood-drenched comedy drama Death in Paradise, or BBC Daytime's other hit detective drama Shakespeare & Hathaway. The crimes are puzzles! Everything will soon be safely solved! There's no need to worry!
As for the idea of the Germans and Brits loaning out their cops to the Spanish police? It is, as the show's creator tells us, "almost totally made up". Not that this actually matters. While some get hung up on the question of accuracy and whether any of this could ever happen in real life, Sefton reckons that's not always the best way to look at things.
A former doctor himself, Sefton began a second career as a screenwriter on soaps including Holby City and went on to write dramas like Trust Me (featuring Jodie Whittaker) and Delicious.
"It's funny – I remember doing Holby when they had Adrian Edmondson, he's a legend, doing a pig's kidney transplant in the basement," Sefton told RadioTimes.com. "And I was like, 'Guys you can't actually transplant a pig's kidney into a human.' They go, we don't care! And I watched [US drama series] The Good Doctor, which is really fun, but it's like - he's not a good doctor at all! It's all nonsense, but it's fun. If it's done well.
"The point I really want to make is that everybody's in on the gag. Audiences are smart, they know exactly what they're watching. Sometimes they want to watch a really, really forensic cop thing where the details feel absolutely real. And sometimes they want to watch something which is just a bit of fun, and half of the fun is going, 'God it's ridiculous isn't it? They would never do that.' And it's entertainment. So I think the only mistake is underestimating the smarts of the viewing public."
As for his latest show, he adds: "With this, The Mallorca Files, it's getting into the spirit of the genre. It's a buddy cop show in the sun! There are funny bits in it, and the crimes are little bit heightened, and it's: sit back and enjoy it. Have a glass of rosé, enjoy it, that's what it's about."
The Mallorca Files airs at 2.15pm on BBC One on weekdays from Monday 25th November until Friday 6th December 2019