An Actress's Thoughts

Germany’s Top Crime Series behind and in front of the camera

Germany’s Top Crime Series behind and in front of the camera

A few months ago I wrote about the main cast of the 2012 Tatort (crime scene) series on German TV (with one slight mistake: I evaluated only 34 episodes, but indeed it were a total of 35). Anyway, today I did the 6-sections-check for all 35 of last year’s Tatort, i.e. I checked the share of women in the heads of department for direction, script, production, cinematography, sound and editing.

For this I used the webpage of the ARD Tatort, crew united, tatort-fundus and IMDB

The result is depicted in Figure 1, as a reference I have added the share of women in the professional unions / organizations (green circle) and in the crew united data base (pink diamond).


For direction, script and sound the female filmmakers are represented below their professional percentage – and the figures for production, cinematography and editing. The 50 % line is only surpassed by female editors, the referencial numbers are 35,8 % for crew united and 61,7 % for their BFS Bundesverband Filmschnitt Editor e.V.

I find the low number of women who wrote Tatort scripts especially deplorable, maybe that would explain the men centered stories and the way of the male and female characters. But that is another story.

Figure 2 shows the number of men and women for each episode named as head of department in the 6 sections. The total is quite often more than 6, since especially for script and production quite often more than one person is responsible.


A total of 36 directors, 43 script writers, 47 producers, 35 cinematographers, 35 sound people and 35 editors are named for the 35 films (each 90 minutes).
Three episodes had more women than men working as heads in the six departments:

  • Tödliche Häppchen (Ludwigshafen, 1.1.12. Director Josh Broecker)
  • Ordnung im Lot (Bremen, 12.2.12. Directors Claudia Prietzel and Peter Henning)
  • Wegwerfmädchen (Hannover, 9.12.12. Director Franziska Meletzky)

Now I will once again look at the casts, but this time for all 35 episodes (Figure 3). Unfortunately I was not able to obtain the complete casts therefore I am only evaluating the main casts as named on the website of the ARD.


Three episodes had more female than male characters in the main cast:

  • Verschleppt (Saarland, 22.1.2012. Director Hannu Salonen) 55 %
  • Kinderland (Leipzig, 8.4.2012, Director Thomas Jauch) 55 %
  • Das Wunder von Wolbeck (Münster, 25.11.2012. Director Matthias Tiefenbacher) 53 %.

Overall the ratio between actresses and actors in all 35 Tatorte is 1 to 1,8, i.e. there were nearly twice as many male characters in the stories. Once again with the reservation that I do not have access to the complete casting lists, this means e.g. that there are small roles that don’t show up in these statistics.
In 2012 there were two extremely male dominated stories:

  • Alter Ego (Dortmund, 23.9.12. Director Thomas Jauch), female parts 18 %
  • Im Namen des Vaters (Frankfurt, 26.12.12. Regie Lars Kraume), female parts 20 %

Then there were 11 Tatorte with a female cast between 21 and 30 %, and so forth, refer to Figure 4, there you will find the titles of the 35 episodes, the dates of the premieres on TV, the towns of the Tatorte, the ratio of female and male parts in the main casts, and colour-coded the differenciation between female and male directors (left column) and the share of female parts in 9 statistical groups on the right.

Tonight’s Tatort (yes, nearly every Sunday night at 8.15 pm it’s a new one) is called Die Wahrheit stirbt zuerst (truth is the first thing to die) it takes place in Leipzig, and on the website of ARD 3 actresses and 8 actors are named. The 6-sections-check gives us 8 men and no women for the 6 positions.