Tatort (1970– )

TVSeries


Tatort (TV Series 1970– )

A German language television series that has been running continuously since 1970, which makes it the longest-running German TV drama. Every episode features different detectives of a different city trying to solve a murder case.
West Germany
Austria
Switzerland
IMDb   7.1 /10
TheMovieDb    5.6 /10
RottenTomatoes
TV.com
FilmAffinity   6.3 /10
Creators
Creator Hartmut Griesmayr
Creator Hajo Gies
Creator Peter Adam
Creator Alexander Adolph
Information
Release Date1970-11-29
Runtime1h 30min
GenreCrime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Content Rating
Awards119 wins & 170 nominations.
CompanyARD (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland), Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF), Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft (SRG)
CountryWest Germany, Austria, Switzerland
LanguageGerman
Max Ballauf / ... 92 episodes, 1990-2021
Ivo Batic / ... 88 episodes, 1988-2020
Franz Leitmayr / ... 86 episodes, 1991-2020
Freddy Schenk / ... 85 episodes, 1984-2021
Lena Odenthal / ... 75 episodes, 1989-2021
Dr. Joseph Roth / ... 73 episodes, 1998-2021
Peter Becker / ... 59 episodes, 1981-2021
Frau Keller / ... 59 episodes, 1998-2021
Mario Kopper / ... 58 episodes, 1996-2017
Moritz Eisner / ... 51 episodes, 1999-2021
Tessa Mittelstaedt
Tessa Mittelstaedt
Franziska Lüttgenjohann / ... 47 episodes, 1999-2020
Bernd Michael Lade
Bernd Michael Lade
Hauptkommissar Kain / ... 46 episodes, 1992-2008
Peter Sodann
Peter Sodann
Hauptkommissar Bruno Ehrlicher / ... 45 episodes, 1992-2007
Michael Fitz
Michael Fitz
Carlo Menzinger / ... 45 episodes, 1991-2013
Manfred Krug
Manfred Krug
Hauptkommissar Paul Stoever 41 episodes, 1984-2001
Sabine Postel
Sabine Postel
Hauptkommissarin Inga Lürsen / ... 40 episodes, 1989-2019
Charles Brauer
Charles Brauer
Hauptkommissar Peter Brockmöller / ... 40 episodes, 1981-2001
Kommissar Brinkmann / ... 40 episodes, 1971-2001
Frank Thiel / ... 39 episodes, 2002-2021
Klaus Borowski / ... 39 episodes, 1994-2021
Till Ritter / ... 39 episodes, 1985-2014
Prof. Karl-Friedrich Boerne / ... 39 episodes, 2002-2021
Christine Urspruch
Christine Urspruch
Silke Haller / ... 39 episodes, 2002-2021
Mechthild Großmann
Mechthild Großmann
Staatsanwältin Wilhelmine Klemm / ... 38 episodes, 2002-2021
Claus Dieter Clausnitzer
Claus Dieter Clausnitzer
Herbert Thiel / ... 38 episodes, 1997-2021
Nadeshda Krusenstern 37 episodes, 2002-2020

Tatort

Tatort (Crime scene) is a German language police procedural television series that has been running continuously since 1970 with some 30 feature-length episodes per year, which makes it the longest-running German TV drama. Developed by the German public-service broadcasting organisation ARD for their channel Das Erste, it is unique in its approach, in that it is jointly produced by all of the organisation's regional members as well as its partnering Austrian and Swiss national public-service broadcasters, whereby every regional station contributes a number of episodes to a common pool.

Therefore, the series is a collection of different police stories where different police teams each solve crimes in their respective city. Uniqueness in architecture, customs and dialects of the cities is therefore a distinctive part of the series and often the city, not the police force, is the real main character of an episode. The concept of local stations only producing a couple of shows per year has also enabled the shows to be longer (90 minutes) and more fleshed out psychologically than other weekly TV dramas.

The first episode was broadcast on 29 November 1970. Episodes are broadcast on ARD's main channel Das Erste on Sunday evening at the prime viewing time of 8.15 pm (just after the 8 o'clock Tagesschau news) around three times a month. Reruns are often shown by various regional ARD stations and on foreign broadcasters. Alongside the member stations of the ARD, the national Austrian broadcasting corporation Österreichischer Rundfunk joined the production pool in 1971 and airs the program on its ORF 2 channel. Switzerland's Schweizer Fernsehen joined the pool from 1990 to 2001 and again in 2011 and distributes its episodes through its channel SRF 1.

The series Polizeiruf 110, which was produced by East Germany’s state TV broadcaster as a counterpart to the West German Tatort and has a similar regional production approach, is still produced by ARD's regional broadcasters Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR), Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR). Polizeiruf 110 shares the Sunday night prime time slot on Das Erste with Tatort.


Concept

The main feature of Tatort is that it is jointly produced by all participating regional TV stations. Each of the eleven companies involved (the nine German regional TV channels or Landesrundfunkanstalten that together form ARD, plus ORF in Austria and SRF in Switzerland), produces its own episodes. Each station features usually more than one team of inspectors in different cities in its region, depending on the size of the producing broadcaster. Each of the roughly 20 active teams appears one to two times each year. Nearly every Sunday, a new episode from a different city premieres on Das Erste; old episodes are often shown through all participating stations as part of their common programming. The series shares this concept with its former East German counterpart Polizeiruf 110, which basically is produced as four additional Tatort investigator teams aired under a different series name and opening credits by some regional broadcasters, mostly those which evolved from East German state television.

Every Tatort episode features a different team of inspectors in a different city. Combined with the fact that the episodes are, at 90 minutes long, almost movie-length and with rarely more than 30 episodes in one year, this makes for a cultural phenomenon closer to a string of made-for-TV movies than a typical police series.

This pooling concept was mainly due to the nature of the public broadcast television channel ARD, which is jointly operated by all of Germany's regional public Landesrundfunkanstalten. The 9 regional public broadcasters collect broadcasting fees in their region of Germany (each region comprising one or more federal states), and each have multiple radio stations and a regional TV station. Das Erste is produced as a joint national channel with common national programming. Each regional broadcaster is responsible for parts of the programming, unlike for instance in the US with its network affiliate system. Usually one to three broadcasters produce one TV programme in cooperation. When Tatort was developed as a series of weekly feature film-long local crime stories, the stated concept was used to distribute financial and organizational efforts.

Apart from the unique joint-pooling system, the series is also characterised by the episode length of around 90 minutes, which allows for more in-depth and psychological fleshing out of the characters. Although almost all episodes feature the investigation of a homicide, it is never just a simple case of whodunit. Often the episode length allows for the crime to be shown in all its aspects, with equal attention focused on the perpetrators and the victims as on the inspectors. On several occasions the actual police work is just a side note in the story, as the main plot might focus on how one of the persons involved deals with the crime and its aftermath. Episodes also deal with social and political issues.

With the national broadcasting corporations of Austria and Switzerland participating, the episodes of Tatort are currently set in various cities of Germany, Vienna, and Lucerne. Originally each of the participating member stations limited their episodes to one team of investigators in one city: for ease of production this was mostly the city the broadcast station was in, but over the years some stations broadcasting over a large regional area have Tatorts playing in several cities. Notably, the WDR has three teams of investigators playing respectively in Cologne, Münster, and Dortmund. Episodes are either produced by the station's own production facilities, or are filmed and often also written by outside production houses on behalf of the station. This sometimes leads to situations where, for instance, a Tatort set in Thuringia is actually produced in Bavaria, with only a handful of scenes shot 'on location' in the town the story is supposed to be set in.

A similar concept of independently filming and then pooling episodes was used from 1988 to 1992 in the series Eurocops, jointly produced by several national European TV stations.

Tatort has not found wide distribution in non-German speaking countries, but some episodes were distributed as stand-alone mini series. Most notably the 2013 series starring Til Schweiger and Fahri Ogün Yardım in Hamburg was distributed by Channel 4 under the title Nick's Law.


History

Gunther Witte, dramatist and TV head at WDR (West German Broadcasting Cologne), developed the series against initial resistance. Witte and his successors have ensured that one or two detectives are at the center of every story, and the cases are shown from their perspective; they are usually members of a team, and their lives are also included.

In January 2008 a similarly produced series of radio dramas called ARD Radio Tatort was introduced, new episodes are aired monthly by regional radio stations, but not at the same time.

In 2012, more than 100,000 people participated in the first and only online game linked to the SWR Tatort production, "Der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget".

In January 2014, Tatort received the 50th Grimme Award.


Features

The show is still aired on Sundays at 8:15 p.m. in Germany and Austria, and 8:05 p.m. in Switzerland. About 30 episodes are made each year. By May 2018, 1055 episodes had been produced, plus 13 made in Austria and shown only there. Episode nr. 1000 was broadcast on Sunday 13 November 2016.

The episodes of some series of Tatort, such as the discontinued series about Schimanski, played by Götz George, have become cultural icons.

The opening sequence of each episode has essentially remained the same throughout the decades except for slight changes. Klaus Doldinger composed the title music with Udo Lindenberg on drums.


In East Germany

At the same time the ARD was starting its Tatort format, the DDR had its own police procedural/crime show called Polizeiruf 110 ("Police dial 1-1-0"). The series premiered in 1971, less than a year after the first Tatort. It too was a police procedural, with various teams of investigators in various cities of the DDR, but in contrast to the West, only a small part of their cases involved actual homicides. The psychology of the perpetrators and the victims was also more prevalent. The series continued through all of the 1970s and 80s and even survived the Wende, continuing until 1991.

In 1990, Polizeiruf practiced its own brand of German unification with episode 142, "Unter Brüdern" ("Amongst Brothers"), a crossover with the Tatort investigators Schimanski and Thanner (this was co-produced with ARD and a medley of the two series themes were used in the opening intro). Until 1991, the series continued more or less independently for 11 more episodes until episode 153 (22 December 1991), again a crossover, in which Kommissar Thanner becomes the team's superior. Also in 1991, as part of the unification, the DDR's television company DFF was split into the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) and Ostdeutscher Rundfunk Brandenburg (ORB) while the television stations in the new state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern would be operated as part of the NDR.

As MDR, ORB and NDR were all partners in the ARD, it was expected that they would start producing Tatort episodes as well. However, seeing the popularity of Polizeiruf 110, it was decided that the stations would contribute to the Tatort pool, but that its episodes would keep the name of Polizeiruf 110 and their own title music and intro. Still, they would be broadcast over all ARD stations on Sunday evening just like (or instead of) the 'western' Tatort.

Reorganising took one and a half years, but on 13 June 1993, the now MDR restarted the series in Tatort format. This first episode was set in Leipzig, just as in 1991. However, today's episodes produced by the MDR are set in Magdeburg, while those produced by NDR are set in Rostock. The ORB (and later ORB's successor, RBB) has its episodes headed by the same team of investigators, but take place in various cities of Brandenburg. In addition, Bavarian Broadcasting BR produces both Polizeiruf and Tatort episodes, both set in Munich. Like the original, the Bavarian Polizeiruf episodes focus more on the psychology of the crimes and more on crimes other than homicides. Over the years several other 'western' local broadcasters tried their hand at producing Polizeiruf episodes as a sort of 'alternative Tatort' alongside the regular ones. However, all of them stopped after a few episodes.

On 15 May 2015, RBB aired the 350th episode of Polizeiruf 110, the 197th episode of the new format.

In 2013, seeing that Thuringia was so far the only federal state in Germany that had neither a Tatort nor a Polizeiruf set in one of its cities, the MDR ordered two new Tatort series, set in Erfurt and Weimar respectively. Both are produced for the MDR by Bavarian companies.

As 1-1-0 is the speed dial code for police/emergency dispatch in Germany, but not in Austria, Polizeiruf 110 is broadcast in Austria as Polizeiruf 133.


Table of broadcasters

There have been over 1100 episodes of Tatort, from November 1970 up to the beginning of January 2020 these have been the product of a dozen broadcasters, based around various lead investigators. While some (about 30) have featured only once or twice, a number of investigators have featured in multiple episodes. There are 22 current investigative strands, and three have been the subject of over 70 episodes.

YearBroadcast StationLead InvestigatorActorsCityNumber of Episodes
1970–1982NDRPaul TrimmelWalter RichterHamburg11
1970–1973SRLiersdahl and SchäfermannDieter EpplerSaarbrücken2
1971–1973WDRKressinSieghardt RuppCologne7
1971–1986SDREugen LutzWerner Schumacher8 different towns in Baden-Württemberg16
1971–1979HRKonradKlaus HöhneFrankfurt am Main8
1971–1978NDRFinkeKlaus SchwarzkopfKiel and other places in Schleswig-Holstein7
1971–1983ORFViktor MarekFritz EckhardtVienna13
1971–1972SFBErwin KasulkePaul EsserWest Berlin2
1972–1981BRMelchior VeiglGustl BayrhammerMunich15
1972SWFHorst PflügerErnst JacobiBaden-Baden1
1973RBWalter BöckHans HäckermannBremen1
1973–1977SWFFranz GerberHeinz SchimmelpfennigBaden-Baden5
1974–1980WDRHeinz HaferkampHansjörg FelmyEssen20
1974–1977NDRHeinz BrammerKnut HinzHanover4
1975–1977SFBMartin SchmidtMartin HirtheWest Berlin3
1977–1984SRSchäfermannManfred HeidmannSaarbrücken4
1978–1980SWFMarianne BuchmüllerNicole HeestersMainz3
1978–1983HRBergmannHeinz Treuke (1978), Lutz Moik (1981-1983)Frankfurt am Main3
1978–1979SFBMatthias BehnkeHans-Peter KorffWest Berlin2
1979NDRNagelDiether KrebsBraunschweig1
1979–1985NDRDeliusHorst BollmannHamburg3
1980HRSanderVolkert KraeftFrankfurt am Main1
1980WDRPaul EndersJörg HubeEssen, Frankfurt am Main1
1980–1982NDRJochen PiperBernd SeebacherBremen2
1980WDRWilly KreutzerWilly SemmelroggeEssen1
1981–1985SFBFriedrich WaltherVolker BrandtWest Berlin6
1981–1988SWFHanne WiegandKarin AnselmBaden-Baden, Karlsruhe, Mainz8
1981NDRGreveErik Schumannsmall town in Schleswig-Holstein1
1981NDRBeckHans HäckermannLübeck1
1981–1991WDRHorst Schimanski and Christian ThannerGötz George and Eberhard FeikDuisburg29
1981–1987BRLudwig LenzHelmut FischerMunich7
1982HRWerner RolfsKlaus LöwitschFrankfurt am Main1
1982NDRNikolaus SchnoorUwe DallmeierBremerhaven1
1983NDRRonkeUlrich von BockHamburg1
1984HRRullmannHans-Werner Bussingersmall towns in Hesse1
1984–2001NDRPaul Stoever and Peter BrockmöllerManfred Krug and Charles BrauerHamburg and Neuwerk41, Brockmöller: 38
1984–1986ORFHirthKurt JaggbergVienna3 (+ 6 only ORF)
1985HRReinhold DietzeKlaus LöwitschFrankfurt am Main1
1985–2001HREdgar BrinkmannKarl-Heinz von HasselFrankfurt am Main28
1985–1989SFBHans Georg BülowHeinz DracheBerlin6
1986BRSiggi RiedmüllerGünther Maria Halmer Munich1
1986ORFLutinskyMiguel Herz-KestranekVienna1 (only ORF)
1986-1988ORFPfeiferBruno DallanskyVienna3 (+5 only ORF)
1987–1988SDRGeorg Thomas SchreitleHorst Michael NeutzeStuttgart, Führstadt3
1987BRKarl ScherrerHans BrennerMunich1
1988–2005SRMax PaluJochen SenfSaarbrücken and other places in Saarland17
1988–1989BROtto BrandenburgHorst BollmannMunich2
1989–1996ORFMichael FichtlMichael JanischVienna8 (+1 only ORF)
since 1989SWF, SWRLena Odenthal, Mario Kopper, and Johanna SternUlrike Folkerts, Andreas Hoppe, and Lisa BitterLudwigshafen72, Kopper: 56, Stern: 10
1990DRSWalter HowaldMathias GnädingerBern1
since 1991BRIvo Batic, Franz Leitmayr (and Detective Sergeant Carlo Menzinger until 2007)Miroslav Nemec, Udo Wachtveitl and Michael FitzMunich86, Menzinger: 45 (two of them together with Faber)
1991–1992DRSReto CarlucciAndrea ZoggBern2
1991–1995SFBFranz MarkowitzGünter LamprechtBerlin8
1992–2007MDRBruno Ehrlicher and KainPeter Sodann and Bernd Michael Ladefirst Dresden, later Leipzig, one episode in Cologne as well45, (two of them together with Ballauf and Schenk)
1992–1997WDRBernd Flemming, Detective Constable Max Ballauf and Detective Constable Miriam KochMartin Lüttge, Klaus J. Behrendt and Roswitha SchreinerDüsseldorf15, Ballauf: 9
1992–2007SDR, SWRErnst Bienzle and Detective Sergeant Günter GächterDietz Werner Steck and Rüdiger WandelStuttgart25
1993–2002DRSPhilipp von Burg and Markus GertschL.I. Kisch and E.C. SigristBern9
1995HRLeo FelberHeinz SchubertFrankfurt am Main1
1996–1998SFBErnst Roiter and Detective Constable Michael ZorrowskiWinfried Glatzeder and Robinson ReichelBerlin12
1996ORFMax BeckerKlaus WildbolzVienna1
1997ORFPaul Kant and Jakob VaranasiWolfgang Hübsch and Johannes NikolussiVienna2
1997NDRLea SommerHannelore ElsnerHamburg2
since 1997WDRMax Ballauf and Freddy SchenkKlaus J. Behrendt and Dietmar BärCologne, two episodes in Leipzig as well79, (respectively two of them together with Ehrlicher/Kain and Saalfeld/Keppler)
1997–2019RBInga Lürsen and Detective Constable Nils StedefreundSabine Postel and Oliver MommsenBremen, Bremerhaven39 (with Stedefreund: 34)
1999–2014SFB, rbbTill Ritter and Robert Hellmann, later Felix StarkDominic Raacke and Stefan Jürgens, later Boris AljinovicBerlin37, (with Hellmann: 6, with Stark: 31, the last episode only with Stark)
since 1999ORFMoritz Eisner and Bibi FellnerHarald Krassnitzer and Adele NeuhauserVienna and other places in Austria49 (with Fellner: 25)
2001–2008NDRJan Casstorff and Detective Sergeant Eduard HolicekRobert Atzorn, Tilo PrücknerHamburg15
2002–2010HRDetective Sergeant Charlotte Sänger and Fritz DellwoAndrea Sawatzki and Jörg SchüttaufFrankfurt am Main18
since 2002NDRCharlotte LindholmMaria FurtwänglerHanover and small towns in Lower Saxony28
2002-2016SWRKlara Blum and Kai PerlmannEva Mattes and Sebastian BezzelKonstanz and other places around Lake Constance31 (with Perlmann: 27)
since 2002WDRFrank Thiel and forensic doctor Prof. Karl-Friedrich BoerneAxel Prahl and Jan Josef LiefersMünster (Westfalia) and around38
since 2003NDRKlaus Borowski, Frieda Jung (2003-2010), Sarah Brandt (2010-2017), Mila Sahin (since 2017)Axel Milberg, Maren Eggert (2003-2010), Sibel Kekilli (2010-2017), Almila Bagriacik (since 2017)Kiel35 (with Jung: 14, with Brandt: 14)
2006-2012SRFranz Kappl and Stephan DeiningerMaximilian Brückner and Gregor WeberSaarbrücken7
since 2008SWRSebastian Bootz and Thorsten LannertFelix Klare and Richy MüllerStuttgart26
2008-2015MDREva Saalfeld and Andreas KepplerSimone Thomalla and Martin WuttkeLeipzig21 (two of them together with Ballauf and Schenk)
2008-2012NDRCenk BatuMehmet KurtuluşHamburg6
since 2010HRFelix MurotUlrich TukurWiesbaden9
2011–2015HRConny Mey and Frank SteierNina Kunzendorf und Joachim KrólFrankfurt7 (with Mey: 5)
2011–2019SRFReto Flückiger and Liz RitschardStefan Gubser and Delia MayerLucerne17 (with Ritschard: 16)
since 2012WDRPeter Faber, Martina Bönisch, Nora Dalay and Daniel KossikJörg Hartmann, Anna Schudt, Aylin Tezel and Stefan KonarskeDortmund18 (two of them together with Batic and Leitmayr)
2013–2019SRJens Stellbrink and Lisa MarxDevid Striesow and Elisabeth BrückSaarbrücken8
since 2013NDRNick Tschiller and Yalcin GümerTil Schweiger and Fahri Ogün YardımHamburg6
since 2013NDRThorsten Falke and Katharina LorenzWotan Wilke Möhring and Petra Schmidt-Schaller (2013-2015), Franziska Weisz (since 2016)Hamburg and other places in Northern Germany13 (6 with Lorenz, 7 with Grosz)
2013–2014MDRHenry Funck, Maik Schaffert and Aline GrewelFriedrich Mücke, Benjamin Kramme and Alina LevshinErfurt2
2013–2021MDRLessing and Kira DornChristian Ulmen and Nora TschirnerWeimar10
since 2015rbbNina Rubin and Robert KarowMeret Becker, Mark WaschkeBerlin12
since 2015BRPaula Ringelhahn and Felix VossDagmar Manzel, Fabian HinrichsNuremberg and other places in Franconia6
since 2015HRAnna Janneke and Paul BrixMargarita Broich, Wolfram KochFrankfurt am Main12
since 2016MDRHenni Sieland, Karin Gorniak and Peter Michael SchnabelAlwara Höfels, Karin Hanczewski, Martin BrambachDresden10
since 2016SWREllen BerlingerHeike MakatschFreiburg, then Mainz2
since 2017SWRFranziska Tobler and Friedmann BergEva Löbau, Hans-Jochen WagnerFreiburg and the Black Forest6
since 2020SRAdam Schürk and Leo HölzerDaniel Sträßer and Vladimir BurlakovSaarbrücken1
since 2020SRFIsabelle Grandjean and Tessa OttAnna Pieri Zuercher and Carol SchulerZürich1

Last update: December 26, 2020


Soundtracks (selection)

Some Tatort episodes from the 1980s and 1990s included songs that subsequently became quite well known, and two of them reached the top of the charts: "Faust auf Faust (Schimanski)" by Klaus Lage from the Tatort movie Zahn um Zahn, and "Midnight Lady" by Chris Norman, written by Dieter Bohlen, which appears on the episode "Der Tausch". Some random selected soundtracks:

ArtistTitle songEpisodeYearTV station
Can"Vitamin C""Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street"1973WDR
Tangerine Dream"Das Mädchen auf der Treppe""Das Mädchen auf der Treppe" 1982WDR
Tangerine Dream"Daydream – Moorland""Miriam" 1983WDR
Warning"Why Can The Bodies Fly""Peggy hat Angst"1983SWF
Jil Anderson"Without You (Baby, Baby)""Haie vor Helgoland"1984NDR
Mark Spiro"Winds Of Change""Das Haus im Wald" 1985WDR
Patricia Simpson"Dreams In The City""Nachtstreife"1985ORF
Die Toten Hosen"Verschwende deine Zeit""Voll auf Haß"1987NDR
Sandra"Stop For A Minute""Salü Palu"1988SR
Roger Chapman"Slap Bang in the Middle""Einzelhaft" 1988WDR
Bonnie Tyler"Against The Wind""Der Fall Schimanski" 1991WDR
Wolf Maahn"Cool""Der Mörder und der Prinz"1992WDR
Markus Küpper"Sie hat Schluß gemacht""Ein ehrenwertes Haus"1994MDR
Ben Becker"Alter Mann""Falsches Alibi"1995MDR
RammsteinAsche zu Asche"Die Geschichte vom bösen Friedrich"2016HR