the fall    British tv series are different. In what way? In the way they tell their stories and film them. In audio-visuals, the adjective “British” can be used. There have always been extreme offerings amongst British tv series: Unending tv series such as Doctor Who which has been disappearing and reappearing since 1963; the strange Into the Labyrinth which few our childhoods’ nightmares and Benny Hill’s adventures and hot moments. Contemporary British series have a different tendency. Short series with just a few episodes which look like feature films. Amazing stories are told in just half a dozen episodes. For instance Luther, Black Mirror, Peaky Blinders, Utopia,... Amongst them, BBC2’s own fantastic series The Fall, whose five episodes have had the largest audiences in the last ten years.

In The Fall the main players are a city, Belfast, and the main two characters. Gillian Anderson masterfully plays Stella Gibson and we know the psychopathic killer Paul Spector, played by actor Jamie Dornan, from the first second of the series. In fact, that’s one of the secrets of the tv series’ success. Spectators know the killer from the first second and not only when he murders, also in his daily life. We meet his family and see the problems he has at work. When we see the news about the murderer on the television, we think of Paul Spector, who somebody says is a nice person. There is more than just morbid curiosity about the young women’s murders. Along with the killer, we see all the preparations for each murder. One of the narrative points of view being that of the killer, and the spectator taking part in the killer’s rituals and lies and becoming an accomplice to his double life, is what separates The Fall from other tv series in the genre.

Another part of the success is the policewoman Stella Gibson. The actress Gillian Anderson offers a character as good as her Scully in The X Files. In a man’s world, Stella Gibson is a sophisticated woman who is sure of her ability. Stella knows how to make use of the attraction and fear which that security of hers brings out in men. Her open attitude to sex and clearly feminist discourse give rise to conflicts around here, for instance when she accuses her workmates
of only categorizing the women victims as “saints or whores”.

We see the two main characters in parallel. The spectator is the only person who has all the information and that leads to deep implication with the characters and the events become particularly moving. And the backdrop for this cat and mouse game is a society divided by political and military conflict and the corrupt relationships between politics, police and criminals. And all of this filmed in the way which only the British can do. The BBC producers chose the Belgian Jakob Verbruggen to direct, in fact, so that he could see the reality of Belfast through neutral eyes. But you realise it’s a British tv series from the very first still. The police station, houses, hotels, roads, autopsy rooms, offices and clothes all give a sensation of
reality. The same can be said of the secondary character’s acting, the natural way in which sound is used...