Thursday, August 01, 2002


You will never know what you are missing if you haven’t seen Derrick, the popular German detective series of the Zweite Deutsche Fernsehen(ZDF). Derrick ran a spectacular record of 24 years with 281 episodes, in more than a hundred countries all over the world.
Chief Inspector (Oberinspektor for the Germans) Derrick of the Munich Kriminal Polizei is a criminologist and a caring gentleman who solves crime with certain impassiveness but great élan. He abhors violence and his methods are twined with humanistic and calm approach to criminal situations. During his years of intense police work, Stephan Derrick never lost his composure or acts as a nemesis of crime or let the criminals feel his contempt, instead; he acts like a compassionate father figure who treats the offenders with dignity. The gracious appearance of Derrick is maintained throughout the series. You won’t hear him swearing or see him acts cynical. Derrick’s cordial appearance and his aversion against violence are evident in the series as the absence of action packed shootouts or high speed chases. In fact, the Chief Inspector has almost never fired a gun or resort to violence.
Since October 20, 1974 Chief Inspector StepDerrick, played by the versatile Horst Tappert, and his loyal side kick Inspector Harry Klein (Fritz Wepper) has been solving crimes in Munich and the nearby regions. Derrick’s investigative strategies include psychological and intuitive skills which are unique and definitely enchanting. He solves the crimes with great elegance and dexterity, and of all the criminals he’s on trail, only three times did the criminals managed to elope him.
Brother William of Baskerville, remember the investigation monk of Umberto Eco’s acclaimed bestseller Name of the Rose? Yes, I suspect there is Derrick persona in him and voilà Umberto Eco himself is a fan of Derrick series. He once said, “Derrick makes us all feel good, even those of us who feel superior to others, because he evokes upon the feeling of mediocrity that we all carry within us but thought we had suppressed.”
Well actually there is one more thing, of course there is Lieutenant Columbo. He is the Derrick of the United States, who is better? You decide…
During the 1970s and 1980s the program achieved enormous success and audiences of up to 20 million. Even at present, there are 30 television channels available in Germany, up to ten million viewers tune in on Friday evening to watch Derrick. It almost became the habit of the German people to turn into the ZDF channel at 8.15 pm every Friday night between 1974 and 1998 to watch their beloved Chief Inspector on trail of criminals.
SDerrick bids farewell with his last performance on October 16, 1998, saddening millions of views more than a hundred countries including Afghanistan, China, Japan, Iran, Africa, Mexico, South America, Australia and of course, India.
I have seen less than fifty episodes in my teens, as its English dubbed version telecasted in Kerala, India by the National television, Doordarshan. I was a school kid at that time and I used to wait for its late night show time feigning to do homework while waiting eagerly for Derrick for he was one of my favourite childhood heroes.
Thanks to Chief Inspector Stephan Derrick, the image of the Germans was considerably changed. Those who watched Derrick series would turn a reluctant face to the ugly Nazi portrayal. . In 2002 Horst Tappert, was awarded the Willy Brandt Prize of the Norwegian-German Willy Brandt Foundation because, as the official statement read, his portrayal of the likeable Inspector succeeded in improving the Germans' image in Norway. Horst Tappert became such a popular figure; in fact, he has become an unofficial ambassador for the Federal Republic of Germany. The Derrick mania was so fervent throughout the world and Horst Tappert is probably the only German actor who has ever had international fan-clubs.
In 1998 the series bid farewell has nothing to do with declining audience rates or popularity. The reason was at 75 Horst Tappert has just reached the age limit he had set for himself and retired. Horst Tappert was born on May 26, 1923 in Wupperthal. A veteran of Second World War, In August 1945 Tappert looked for a job in a theatre as a commercial employee. Fortunately, I would say, the commercial director wasn't present that day and he talked with the artistic director who asked him whether he would mind to become an actor. Tappert, desperate to get a job, agreed. In 1956 he acted at the Münchner Kammerspiele in a play and his first performance was fantastic! We have been lucky!
In 1973 producer Ringelmann began to make the series Derrick casting Horst Tappert as Chief Inspector Stephan Derrick. It went to become the most successful German TV-series. Herbert Reinecker, was the creator of the Chief Inspector Derrick who worked almost 30 years as script writer for the series.Now, there is a new cartoon movie in Germany featuring the adventures of Inspector Derrick titled Derrick - Duty Calls.

Director: (In alphabetical order)
Alfred Vohrer, Alfred Weidenmann, Dietrich Haugk, Erik Ode, Franz Peter Wirth, Gero Erhardt, Günter Gräwert, Helmut Ashley, Helmut Käutne, Horst Tappert, Jürgen Goslar, Leopold Lindtberg, Michael Braun, Theodor Grädler, Wigbert Wicker, Wolfgang Becker, Zbynek Brynych
Cast: Horst Tappert, Fritz Wepper
Year 1974 - 1998
Episodes: 281
Genere: Crime, Mystery
Runtime: 60 min
Language: German
Country: West Germany
Color: Color