If you're having trouble saying goodbye to Sarah Lund, who takes her bow and departs the Danish TV stage at the end of this third and final series of 'The Killing', spare a thought for the man who created her.
"It will be sad, but I never intended to tell an endless story," explains Soren Sveistrup. "I had three stories to tell, and it would be a great shame to keep going and ruin it. I always think it's better to leave the party before the tomatoes go rotten."
No doubt, there has been a lot of arm-tugging by pragmatic television executives to milk their golden goose for a few more turns by Lund, together with her jumper and torch that have become such constant companions on a cold Saturday evening. Sveistrup is suitably diplomatic...
Fans must steel themselves to say goodbye, for the final time, to Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol)
"There have been requests, but I'm very strong minded. There has been pressure, but I'm sure they would feel equally bad if it started getting weaker. We're all happy."
Lund, with her social awkwardness, her inability to have normal love affairs and friendships around her police work, seems so familiar now, but Sveistrup explains he deliberately went about creating a character that avoided all the usual cliches of TV police drama.
"I was fed up with the usual recipe... the female detective, solving all the crimes, but still having time to date the guy in forensics, eat with her kids, look great, I wanted to avoid all that.
"I came up with this woman who is more like a man, and a rude man with social flaws, and Sofie (Grabol, the compelling lead) had her own ideas too. We had fun, because it meant we could be more loyal to the thriller genre, we were maybe a bit freer to concentrate on the crime story. That's the one thing she's good at, everything else is a struggle.
Sarah Lund - an alien abroad, according to her creator Soren Sveistrup
"Sarah Lund is a nerd, an alien from outer space who fell to earth, and is an alien dealing with humans. We fell in love with this character who walks out of rooms half-way through conversations. She did everything we're far too polite to do."
This kind of character seems to crop up regularly now in the Nordic drama the UK audience has taken to its hearts, most recognisably in 'The Bridge', with its leather trouser-clad heroine Saga Noren. Sveistrup is diplomatic again, revealing he's not even seen this very similar show, but he surmises, "It's a tendency in our time, certainly, but that's another reason to end now, otherwise we become the cliché we set out to avoid."
Is Borch the man to save Sarah Lund, or is this another relationship she won't be able to save?
Various signifiers remain throughout all three series, not least the Faroesque jumper that Sarah Lund has single-handedly turned into a boutique fashion item, much in demand - "I hated the whole idea of a sweater being an icon, but I support it now," Sveistrup laughs. "I don't know if I'll ever love it or all the attention that one thing got when we all worked so hard on everything, but I'd be an idiot to turn my back on it."
However, this final series has seen a definite softening in the DNA of Lund, turning away from the non-stop police work, attending - sort of - to her house and small garden, trying to build the bridges with her son. Was this a deliberate balancing of all that had gone before?
"Yes, and more so," Sveistrup agrees. "She's more egotistical now, thinking about herself, not so concerned with the work, the financial crisis around her. She's looking for personal happiness as well, and it's her biggest struggle for the rest of the show. It's the ultimate dilemma I think we all share, trying to juggle doing good with being happy. She taught me to be true to yourself, not to compromise too much."
For Sveistrup, who remains deeply thoughtful about all of characters and their foibles (he also names Lund's boss Brix as one of his other favourites, and her frustrated family), 'The Killing' was never just another TV project, he was ambitious for it from the start, and felt justified when the Danes took it to their hearts and it spread across Northern Europe. But even he was pretty stupefied by how the Brits grabbed hold of it as well.
"I was on holiday with my family in Thailand, when all the emails started arriving from the UK. It was great to have that, yours is the motherland of crime stories."
Considering how much Nordic noir we've been soaking up, I'm not so certain this still applies, but I'll take it.
Meanwhile, what's next for Soren Sveistrup who's done so much to enhance the UK telly schedule with his unique take on this established genre? A big holiday, apparently, and some family time, his way of solving the dilemma faced by Lund, and all of us. Will he miss her?
"She'll always be with me," he reports. "And I can always phone Sofie and we can have a little cry together."
The Killing III concludes on Saturday evening, 9pm, BBC4. The Killing Trilogy is available in DVD boxset from Monday 17 December.
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