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This story first appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Officially, the European showrunner doesn’t exist. Until a few years ago, even the most ambitious continental small-screen creatives would, at most, designate themselves as “head writers.” But as co-productions abound and talent crisscrosses the Atlantic, something akin to a U.S.-style showrunner is beginning to emerge.
Few so far enjoy the status — or salaries — of such U.S. showrunners as True Detective‘s Nic Pizzolatto, Orange Is the New Black‘s Jenji Kohan or Breaking Bad‘s Vince Gilligan, but Europe’s showrunners are getting recognition as the creatives behind the continent’s best TV.
Read more Complete Guide to TV Premiere Dates 2014
Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch)
He cut his teeth on procedurals (Law & Order: U.K.) and period fantasy (Camelot), but it was as showrunner on the groundbreaking Broadchurch that Chibnall made his mark. The show broke most of the rules of crime drama, including switching the dark doorways and moonlit nights typical of the genre for the sun-drenched landscape of the Dorset coast. The whodunit has inspired several international adaptations, including Fox’s Gracepoint, which premiered Oct. 2.
Steven Moffat (Sherlock, Doctor Who)
One of the few European showrunners most fans know by name, the Scottish writer (together with Mark Gatiss) created Sherlock, reinventing the iconic London detective for a new generation. The same year, in 2010, Moffat took over as showrunner, lead writer and executive producer for another iconic British show, the sci-fi series Doctor Who.
Heiko Schmidt (Alarm for Cobra 11)
As showrunner on Alarm for Cobra 11, the longest-running German series on air (now entering its 36th season), Schmidt is one of the few Euro showrunners who can handle a truly industrial workload and also really knows how to blow stuff up. His team can point to eight Taurus World Stunt Awards, the Oscars of the stunt world.
Soren Sveistrup (The Killing)
Sveistrup didn’t invent Nordic noir, but his radical vision of crime drama in the Danish series The Killing changed everything for the cop show. Its dark tone, slow pace and psychological examination of the long-term impact of violence set the stage for Broadchurch and True Detective.
Teresa Fernandez Valdes (Grand Hotel, Velvet)
The woman behind Spain’s TV drama renaissance, Valdes has been the creative force behind hit series Grand Hotel and Velvet, both period fictions that tap into the Hispanic tradition of melodrama, filtering it through a comic sensibility that strains out all the kitsch.
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