The Tunnel Breaks New Ground, On Screen and Behind the Scenes

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The opening episodes of Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel has been pulling in the viewers after a strong marketing campaign and plenty of talk in the press.

The Tunnel

The Tunnel

The opening episodes of Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel has been pulling in the viewers after a strong marketing campaign and plenty of talk in the press. The opening episode was comfortably Sky Atlantic’s best original drama launch to date, more than doubling the previous launch of Hit and Miss with over 400k viewers.

But why so much buzz for the latest in a long line of crime shows and cop procedurals?

It’s arguably because The Tunnel breaks new ground both on screen and behind the scenes.

The show depicts a joint murder investigation carried out by British and French police after a body is found halfway through the Channel Tunnel. It’s an unprecedented scenario and one that is mirrored in the show’s production because The Tunnel also marks the first collaboration between broadcasting giants Sky TV and Canal+.

It’s groundbreaking stuff, but not entirely original stuff, since the show is a remake of the Scandinavian mega-hit The Bridge. But this is a bold move in itself since producers are tasked with emulating one of the most highly rated television experiences of modern times. The Tunnel has a massive act to follow. But early reactions, based on preview screenings, suggest that the show might have pulled it off.

They have accomplished this by focusing the show’s highly transferable premise into a uniquely Anglo-French scenario and successfully capturing the minutiae of British/French relations. Geographically neighbours, but culturally miles apart, it’s the stuff that great drama is made of. The Bridge has already been given the US remake treatment, with an investigation unfolding either side of the US/Mexican border.

Of course, cross-cultural divides and procedural conflicts are only compelling if there’s chemistry between the leading actors. In The Tunnel, that responsibility falls on Clemence Poesy and Stephen Dillane.

British actor Dillane plays mild mannered copper Karl Roebuck and shares the screen with Paris-born Clemence Poesy as the brilliant but troubled detective Elise Wasserman.

Both the Scandinavian and American incarnations of the show have featured strong and seemingly emotionless, or detached, female leads.

Poesy continues the trend and recently told the Telegraph how much she loved the character. “I thought she was awesome,” she said. “She’s a really strong, powerful woman, so it’s hard not to fall for her. You’re not someone’s daughter, you’re not someone’s wife, you’re not someone’s girlfriend; you’re you.

“I also love that we were going against the obvious choices, pairing an Englishman who is really attuned to his emotions, and a Frenchwoman who is not. For me, their relationship is the main interest, because it doesn’t happen very often between a male and female character. There’s no attraction. It’s about them becoming friends, not falling in love with each other.’

Sky bosses are hoping that audiences will fall in love with the pair and all of the early signs suggest that they will.

To pre-order The Tunnel on DVD visit

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Steve Wheeler
Acorn Media
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