In 2006 I worked on an episode of the Swedish TV version of Wallander, playing an American professor suspected of killing his wife. (Meredith couldn’t resist a visit to the set!).
It was an entirely enjoyable experience working with a fine cast and crew in Ystad on the southern tip of Sweden where the stories are set.
No hint was given in our episode that Kurt Wallander (played definitively by Krister Henriksson) was diabetic. Perhaps the production company decided not to go down that road.
A pity in my view.
“I wanted to show how difficult it is to be a good police officer. But after, I think, the third novel, I spoke to this friend of mine and asked what sort of disease I could give him. Someone who leads the life he does. Without hesitating, she said: ‘Diabetes!’ So I gave him diabetes and that made him more popular. I mean, you could never imagine James Bond giving himself a shot of insulin, but with Wallander it seemed perfectly natural.”
I’m reading The Troubled Man at the moment–the last in the nine-book series.
It is as much a character study of his vulnerable and flawed detective as a thriller–an absorbing read.
Wallander is in his early sixties, divorced, living alone and full of foreboding and gloom about his future.
He doesn’t take care of his diabetes, which is Type 1.
He’s overweight, eats haphazardly and takes little exercise. At one point in the novel he has a hypo (hypoglycemic–low blood sugar–blackout) and nearly dies. He’s discovered naked and unconscious in the shower by his daughter, also a police officer, worried when she is unable to reach him by phone.
She has recently given birth to his first grandchild and is keen that he lives long enough to know his granddaughter and vice-versa.
Shocked into action by his narrow escape, he starts to take more care of his condition.
Henning Mankell doesn’t elaborate further on the condition, but saddling his main character with this disease of-the-moment works well and stealthily provides readers with helpful information, even if that wasn’t the author’s intention.
For the record–my character is arrested, after a car chase, on the Oresund Bridge that links Denmark and Sweden.
“OK Gov, it’s a fair cop!”