Season two of The Mallorca Files is guaranteed to bring some much-needed light to BBC One’s winter line-up.
The first series of BBC One’s The Mallorca Files aired at the tail end of 2019 and proved a huge hit with critics and daytime audiences. On the surface, it’s fluff, but it’s also clever, funny, and beautifully shot and acted.
More than anything, The Mallorca Files recalls the wildly successful 1980s comedy drama Moonlighting, in which Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd sleuthed and flirted in equal measure.
This is no accident, as the show’s creator Dan Sefton admitted at an RTS event in mid-January: “Definitely, just totally stole it. From the very beginning, part of the discussion was that we don’t really do those buddy cop, light crime shows any more. I grew up with Moonlighting – loved it, it was fantastic.”
Sefton, a former doctor who penned ITV’s The Good Karma Hospital and BBC thriller Trust Me, recalled the one-line pitch for the series: “Essentially, it was German and British cop on Mallorca.” The tweak, which confounds any lazy stereotyping, is that it is the German who is gregarious and loves life but proves less than efficient as a detective.
Sefton was thrilled at the reception for the first series: “[We] wanted to make a fun, light-hearted, sexy, sunny show… and I think the vast majority of people really bought into that.”
Series two, which began its new run on BBC One at the beginning of the month, offers more of the “will they, won’t they get it together” relationship between Welsh cop DC Miranda Blake (Elen Rhys) and her German colleague, DC Max Winter. The latter is played by the Vienna-born and -raised Julian Looman, a new face to British TV audiences. Rhys is best known for BBC drama Ordinary Lies.
The Mallorca Files offers some much-needed escapism during the UK’s third coronavirus lockdown. “We can’t wait to get it into the schedules,” said BBC daytime commissioning editor Helen Munson at an RTS preview in early January. “Winter is pretty dark and dreary, and you want a bit of lovely light and sunshine. But this year, more than ever, it’s so important – the sun and scenery are what we’re all craving.”
The Balearic island landscape shares joint billing with Rhys and Looman. The producers, Clerkenwell Films and Cosmopolitan Pictures, worked closely with the island’s film body to find standout locations. “At the beginning, when we started talking to the producers, we were a little bit worried [about] Mallorca as a crime set,” said Pedro Barbadillo, head of the Mallorca Film Commission. “But it’s a great way to show what locations Mallorca has to offer for other series and films. We are very happy to host the series.”
Munson added: “Mallorca is very familiar to a lot of our audience but not the bits of Mallorca that we’re showing in this series. People see it as a beach-holiday destination but, in these episodes, you’re seeing so much more about island life. As well as the dynamic between the two leads, that’s certainly what appealed to us.”
Series 2 features a chase up the Calvari Steps in Pollensa, atmospheric old Palma streets and bars, and even a scene filmed during the half-time break of Real Club Deportivo Mallorca’s La Liga match against Valencia. “We had just 20 minutes to shoot the sequence on the pitch – there was a lot of pressure on us,” recalled Looman.
Sefton promised more scenery and escapism for the show’s second outing, but also revealed that it would take on tougher topics, such as the Spanish Civil War.
This is the subject of an episode – Sefton’s favourite of the new series – featuring Phil Daniels playing a “hard-bitten, ex-pat private detective”. The showrunner added: “There are lots of great references to [film] noir, so I think it’s a great example of what we do well. It’s funny – you can watch it on one level but it’s clever as well.
“Some of the information is shocking and disturbing but, if you did a very po-faced drama about this, it wouldn’t be as accessible to people,” said Sefton.
“It’s about that mix of tone. It’s not easy to do and you’re always trying to get the balance right,” he continued. “We try and keep it contemporary and relevant but, at the same time, it’s an entertainment show.”
Filming on the second series was curtailed by coronavirus restrictions early last year. “We had to leave before the last four [were shot]. I’m very pleased that we were able to get six out, but I’m also sad because we had some great new writers [on board]. There’s some great material still waiting there,” said Sefton.
“We’re in a very good position to carry on as soon as it opens up – we’re a show that could start straight away.”
The stars of the show are both keen to return to Mallorca. “I’ve loved living there for half of the year and miss it terribly. I’m desperate to go back,” said Rhys. “We get to go to the most beautiful locations. It’s a dream job.”
Report by Matthew Bell. ‘The Mallorca Files preview and Q&A’ was held on 12 January. It was chaired by journalist Emma Bullimore and produced by the RTS.