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Cooking up a Great Detective

Like most credible writing, Nicolas Freeling’s idea for Commissariat Piet Van der Valk came out of real life events. Having dropped out of university in the early post-War years, he discovered a talent for cooking while wandering around Europe. His travels found him working as senior chef in an Amsterdam hotel, and he was arrested on dubious charges. During a three-week period in police custody, he was interrogated by a worldly-wise detective who would be the inspiration for Piet Van der Valk, the principal character of his first novel. This character came to life as Nicolas and his Dutch wife were deported back to Britain.

Who was the first actor to play the role of Van der Valk? Clue: It wasn’t Barry Foster…

German actor Wolfgang Kieling starred as Van der Valk in “Amsterdam Affair”, the 1968 film adaptation of “Love in Amsterdam”. English actor Frank Finlay starred in a Franco-German TV series starting with "Van der Valk und das Madchen" (1972). A copyright dispute meant that this never reached an English-speaking audience. The better-known Thames Television series went to air in 1972 with Barry Foster as Piet Van der Valk.

Today’s musical link brings us the theme from the 2020 Van der Valk TV series, where the composer, Matthijs Kieboom pays gentle homage to Jack Trombey’s original Eye Level theme.


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