Where is ‘Baptiste’ filmed?

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After the two seasons of Missing set in France and Germany respectively, screenwriters Harry and Jack Williams’ spin-off Baptiste was always going to be based somewhere on the continent. This time, we find dogged missing-persons detective played by Tchéky Karyo in the Netherlands. Supposedly, he’s on a trip to visit his daughter and new grandchild but really he’s there to do what he does best: uncover the seamy side behind European society.

  • Where is Baptiste filmed?

    The series is, as Jack Williams explained in a recent interview, about ‘the question of what’s behind the curtain, what’s under the surface. How sometimes looks are deceiving.’ For this, Amsterdam, with its reputation split pretty evenly between pottery, tulips, sex and drugs was ideal: as Harry Williams put it, ‘The narrative is full of twists, turns and surprises, much like Amsterdam itself. It’s an intriguing setting for the series to take place – it’s unusual, complex and layered.’

  • Where is Baptiste filmed?

    For most of the show, we’re deep in the heart of Amsterdam, with much of the filming shot on location in this very busy city. In particular, we follow Baptiste and the enigmatic Edward Stratton (Tom Hollander) as they roam the city’s notorious red light district, De Wallen. They’re often on the canalside Oudezijds Achterburgwal, passing the neon-lit Casa Rosso and bar The Pint, questioning the sex workers in an attempt to track down the missing Natalie. We also see Hollander emerge from a decidedly one-star hotel situated just around the corner, and pausing to take calls in doors and alleyways.

  • Where is Baptiste filmed?

    The city’s complex nature is neatly expressed in the way these scenes are filmed. With our lead characters a Frenchman and an Englishman, we’re all strangers in this city, lost in unfamiliar streets without a map. While the show is written and produced by Brits, it’s a distinctly pan-European operation, with direction by Börkur Sigthörsson, the Icelander best known for BBC4’s Trapped, and a Belgian, Jan Matthys. As producer John Griffin told one source, they reinforced the impression of claustrophobia and confusion using reflections off water in the canals and glass of shop and club windows: ‘A theme we talked about is “nothing is quite as it seems’: Edward is not as he seems, the red-light district is not as it seems. We’re looking at the world through glass and seeing distorted images and reflections of ourselves – and it’s not quite what we have in our minds.’

  • Where is Baptiste filmed?

    Illustrating the Williams’ point about the city’s double nature, we also watch the pair cross over from De Wallen into Amsterdam’s revered ancient centre, as they chase a suspicious boy up Pijlsteeg to Dam Square. Here, they pass the National Monument, erected in 1956 to honour the dead of World War II, and the vast Royal Palace (pictured).

  • Where is Baptiste filmed?

    They then follow him into the De Nieuwe Kerk (pictured), a 15th-century church now used as an exhibition space. It’s testament to the extraordinary access the production negotiated in the town, though it emerges that filming was as hard as might be imagined in a city full of tourists. Producer Griffin complained that the constant bicycles made it almost impossible to move undisturbed: ‘However much you try to control the traffic you cannot stop the bikes. They get around barriers, and they get around people. I describe them as being like mosquitos.’ Aptly, the chase includes a collision with a cyclist.

  • Where is Baptiste filmed?

    Viewers will recognise views of Amsterdam’s many houseboats and bridges as well as aerial shots, but some sleight of hand was involved in close shots. Production moved to Belgium and to Antwerp and Ghent (pictured), smaller cities that share Amsterdam’s architectural style and, in the latter case, plenty of canals. Antwerp, for example, gave them the venue for Baptiste’s meeting with Dutch police chief Martha, Café de Kat on Wolstraat, named ‘Antwerp’s most authentic brown bar’ by The Guardian, while Ghent provided the cobbled canalside street where we find Baptiste’s daughter’s house.

  • Where is Baptiste filmed?

    While most of the action is concentrated with claustrophobic intensity on the city, other locations provide contrast. The first shot, for example, is not on the continent but on the Kentish coast, in Deal (pictured). Our first sight is of the shingle beach at Kingsdown, and then the Old Lifeboat House on the shore. The location was featured in the Williams brothers’ 2017 series Liar and also the Anglo-French co-production The Tunnel, as were two other nearby locations used, the Ramsgate Harbour Approach tunnel and Discovery Park in Sandwich (standing in as an airport).

  • Where is Baptiste filmed?

    Later, we move to a tulip farm, filmed just north of Amsterdam, where the open spaces and simple life are invaded by the corruption at the heart of the story. But then it’s back to Amsterdam, with its canals, confusion and criminals. Fortunately, the latter is a side of this beautiful city we can easily avoid – unlike the driven Julien Baptiste.

    The finale of ‘Baptiste’ Series 1 is on Sunday 24 March on BBC1. The series is available to stream on iPlayer

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