An Actress's Thoughts

The German Top Crime Series “Tatort” in 2013

The German Top Crime Series “Tatort” in 2013

A Look at Directors, Script Writers, Age Distribution of Casts and more

In 2013 The Cop Drama 90 min series TATORT (Crime Scene) has once again been the fictional programme with the allegedly largest audience, with an average of 9,3 Mio. per film. In just a few minutes (sunday evening, 8.15 pm) it’s time for the latest Tatort, directed by Harald Sicheritz which follows the trend of TATORTS being a men’s show:Tatorte11b13_RegBu_enIn 2013 the share of female directors went down to 5,6 % and that of the female writers down to 8,7 %, how come? Who is making the decisions? Don’t women want to work for TATORTs, or are they not being asked? It certainly can’t be for of female filmmakers, the shares of women in the professional associations is way above these low values. So it is about time the TV channels start discussing this issue in public.
By the way, last week Cooky Ziesche (producer) and Claudia Nothelle (head of programming) introduced the latest new TATORT duo for Berlin, Meret Becker and Mark Waschke are going to replace Dominic Raacke and Boris Aljinovic. And once again an opportunity for an all-female cop duo was missed? Why? The TATORT is a fictional programme, so what is there to prevent two female police detectives in the centre? CAGNEY AND LACEY was first broadcast in 1981 (CBS / USA), and since 2011 SCOTT AND BAILEY haven been solving crimes in the UK (ITV), so why did the rbb (that’s the regional broadcaster for Berlin and Brandenburg) not invent the two new cops Rubin and Karow as two women, one from the west, one from the east, one married with children, one a single, one younger, one older? (these are roughly the characteristics for the woman/man cops, oh, no, not the age, they are only 3 years apart).
Yes, certainly, the number of all-male duos is slowly getting less, but apart from Charlotte Lindholm (played by Maria Furtwängler) who solves crimes in the Hannover region and who paused in 2013, there a no teams without men.
Source of my investigations: the TATORT listings on the webpage of the ARD (first tv channel)Tatorte11b13_Teams_enIn 2011 and 2013 there were 36 TATORT premieres, in 2012 it were 35. Teams that went on air more than once in a year are also calculated into the statistics more than once.
The next figure shows the share of women and men for the cop teams and the main casts (chequered). By main cast I mean all the actresses and actors listed on the ARD webpage for a TATORT, minus the cops from the teams. For the teams, the share of women has risen in the last three years from 26 to just under 34 %, for the main casts there is practically no change (38, 36, 39 %). The share of women for the population in Germany is just under 51 %.Tatorte11b13_Cast_enFrancois Werner, in his blog Tatort Fundus, has been counting murderers and murdered in all TATORTs of 2013 (36 films with 73 people killed). I have been using his numbers and the official statistics for Germany (from the BKA / German Federal Office for Criminal Investigations) for my own evaluations, in blueish-green it’s the actual figures, in orange the fictionals from the TATORTs:Mordstat_enOn TV, in the TATORTs, far less women are murdered than in reality, on the other hand, on TV, in the TATORTs, women murder far more often than in reality.
Once again: the TATORT is fiction, but at the same time we can ask what sort of fictional world in being created. And in this context it is also quite telling to look at the age distribution of the casts.Tatort13_AlterTeams_enIn this figure all investigative teams are only listed once, no matter how often they were on screen in 2013, so we are looking at 14 actresses and 28 actors. The actresses are quite evenly distributed over the age groups. In the columns for the actors we see the senior cops on the right and the newcomers on the left. Next let’s look at the age distribution for all 36 main casts, as already stated without the leading teams. Also, 3 actors and 1 actress are missing on whom I could not find any information. The peak for these 341 actresses and actors is in the group of the 41 to 45-year olds.Tatort13_AlterCast_enWe get a very different and also very fictional picture, when we seperate the women from the men (with the actual numbers, the ratio of female to male roles is 1 to 1,6).Tatort13_AlterCastFM_enThe peak for the actresses is in the 36 to 40-years group, that for the actors is 10 years later, in the 46 to 50-years group.
For the actresses we get – even more distinctly than in the group of the TV Movies of the Week 2013 – two slumps in the urve: for the 26 to 35-year olds, and for those older than 45.
The age curve for the actors on the other hand looks quite normal, the slumps start at age 60, where at the same time actors are nearing their retirement age.
Earlier on I wrote it would be interesting to hear the TV channels talking about the lack of female directors and female script writers. When they do, they should also say something about the casting lists.

And finally, yet another sad information on TATORTs: Sebastian Kempkens wrote in the taz on December 22, 2013 about the intro to the films Ein Trinkgeld für die Regisseurin / a mere tip for the female director. Many may know the famous intro to all TATORTs (have a look and a listen here: Tatort intro). But only the composer Klaus Doldinger earns money for the many many repeats of it over the last decades, the female director Kristina Böttrich-Merdjanowa does not.
Indeed, the TATORT is not very nice to female filmmakers.