Masterpiece To Remake Classic European Series 'Van der Valk'

(Photo Credit: All3Media International)

First Masterpiece brought back the 1970s-era period drama Poldark for the 21st century. Soon it will be reviving heartwarming family series All Creatures Great and Small for a modern audience. Now comes word that another classic series is returning to public television, albeit in a new form. PBS Masterpiece is officially a co-producer of a new version of the detective series Van der Valk, which initially ran for five seasons starting in 1972 and ending in 1992.

The title Van De Valk refers to Dutch detective Commissaris "Piet" (real name Simon) van der Valk, who was played by actor Barry Foster. The series ran for two seasons, six episodes apiece back to back in 1972-1973. It then disappeared for a few years before returning in 1977 with a 12-episode Season 3. The show then went on an extended hiatus, coming back in the early 1990s for two more rounds. The final seasons were more in the style of Endeavour, with four and then three episodes apiece, each running two hours. The early episodes are available for streaming on Amazon.

Technically the show was credited as being adapted from the novels of Nicolas Freeling, who created the character. But none of the series actually followed any of the mysteries from the books. Plus with huge gaps between seasons, the only throughline for the series was Foster. The character's French wife, for instance, Arlette Van der Valk, was played by three different actresses: Susan Travers in the first two seasons, Joanna Dunham in 1977, and Meg Davies in the 1990s. The same went for his boss, Hoofd-commissaris Samson, who was played by three different actors over the five seasons (Martin Wyldeck, Nigel Stock, and Ronald Hines).

According to Variety, which broke the news, Masterpiece’s Rebecca Eaton will be an executive producer on the project. Masterpiece is joining up with the Louise Pedersen-helmed All3Media International, who set up the project as a co-commission with German broadcaster ARD Degeto. The series will air on ITV in the UK.

According to the press release:

The original series was loosely based on the Nicolas Freeling novels and was made by British producer Thames for ITV in the 1970s. Barry Foster starred as the thoughtful titular Dutch detective, tackling crimes against a picturesque Dutch backdrop. The producers said the new iteration will see Van der Valk re-imagined as an unapologetic and street-smart cop in Amsterdam who leads a dynamic team investigating mysterious crimes.

The new series is already cast, with actor Marc Warren in the title role. Fans of BBC America will recognize him as The Gentleman with the Thistle-down Hair from the 2015 adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Announced co-stars include Maimie McCoy (Grantchester), who plays his "gutsy colleague Lucienne" and Luke Allen-Gale (Ripper Street) as Brad de Vries. (Neither Arlette nor Samson are listed as characters.) 

The series was penned by Chris Murray (Midsommer Murders), and reportedly will follow the same format as the final 1992 season of three feature-length episodes. Production is already underway, with the first episode expected to screen at the entertainment convention Mipcom.

There's no official release date yet for Van der Valk, but fans can assume that it will probably arrive in time for the 2020-2021 television season next year.