Tunnel vision: Sky’s Scandi series heads for its last series

Can we trace the current fracture in international relations right back to a single television show?

Here’s a conspiracy theory: we can trace the current fracture in international relations right back to the unintended consequences of a single television show.

Seven years ago, Sweden and Denmark managed to funnel their historical rivalries into the shape of a bilateral drama called, with symbolic potency, The Bridge. A huge hit, it inspired several versions between similarly prickly neighbours: the US and Mexico, Russia and Estonia, and Britain and France. But while television tilted towards détente, reality was not so sure. We got "Build the Wall", military build-up on Russia's border, and Brexit. These days, bridges are for burning.

Much of that mood has crept into

Tunnel: Vengeance

(Sky Atlantic, Thursday, 9pm), which, with similarly potent symbolism, will be the third and last series of the Franco-British collaboration.


Writer Emilia di Giralamo absorbs such tensions into her narrative. “Those idiots can’t patrol their borders,” fumes an English police chief. “They want to have their cake and eat it with a Brexit cherry on top,” sniffs her Gallic counterpart. That could be a transcript of negotiations so far. To put such pettiness in perspective, perhaps, the new mystery facing Stephen Dillane’s glum Roebuck and Clémence Poésy’s chilly Wassermann alludes directly to the Syrian refugee crisis.

A burnt-out French fishing boat is discovered, minus the children of its cargo, but with a mutilated trafficker alive in its hold. Three British children go missing, replaced in their beds with Syrian refugees, while, just as mysteriously, a plague of rats descend on the channel tunnel. “Plague of rats + missing children”, Wassermann actually enters in a search engine, before the pied piper is returned, the result of googling two and two together.

This, it seems, will be the rickety bridge of the final series, filmed with such slow sombreness yet equally given to spooky jump moments: to preserve connections between the serious and the silly. These days that’s not such a big ask. The world, we know, is not a very sensible place.