Charlotte Fich Reveals How The Success Of Danish Crime Drama 'Unit One' Helped Create 'The Killing's Sarah Lund

A danish police woman, intuitively impressive cop, tough as bricks in a world populated by doubting men, compromised personal life - sound familiar?

For those missing their dose of Danish TV crime on Saturday nights, fear not, there's a new box set out just for you.

Unit One - an elite team travelling around Denmark solving some of the country's most heinous crimes

While distributors Nordic Noir could be forgiven for scraping the barrel in their attempts to feed their ever-hungry British audience with whatever subtitled murder they can get their hands on, the good news is that 'Unit One' is a cracking series, with all the ingredients we've come to expect from our Danish counterparts (AND the bonus ball of Casino Royale villain Mads Mikkelsen in a lead role).

How did they get it so right? Charlotte Fich, the lady playing lead copper Ingrid Dahl, has her theories...

"We were a bunch of revolutionaries walking onto set," she laughs, remembering her comrades, during the four series (2000 to 2004) of 'Rejseholdet', which took the stories of some of Denmark's most shocking murders, and showed them being solved by an elite team travelling around the country in their own mobile crime unit van, driven bizarrely but good-humouredly by a former Danish footballing star Johnny Olsen.

"We just changed the scripts without asking"

"We put in lots of extra hours, changing the scripts. It was a time when lots of film makers were getting into television, and influencing the lighting, the framing, everything. And the producer had been swotting up in the US as well.

"It was pioneering taking true stories and putting them on TV, but we hadn't seen how it could work, whether they could write anything that we could actually play. We (actors) were all snobs, changing everything without asking," she laughs now. "Mads (Mikkelsen) had a great energy even then. We had to make it as good as he insisted. He was a great person to have around.

"We thought it might be too slow for audiences, but it worked."

'Unit One' received huge ratings in Denmark, and has been shown overseas from Lapland to Australia. In many ways, Charlotte's character of Ingrid can be seen as the prototype for those who've come since... Sarah Lund with her hunch-following solitude, The Bridge's Saga Noren with her concentration on the job, and little else. During one episode after which Ingrid has been dealt a savage blow to her family, we see her drying her tears and coming back to life, courtesy of a crime scene video that provides something only she spots. Does Charlotte feel like her character paved the way?

"Sure. This character of Ingrid fighting her corner in a man's world, came before we even had our female Danish prime minister.

Charlotte Fich plays Ingrid Dahl, a woman under pressure in a man's world, but slightly less blunt than some of her Danish crime counterparts

"She's female and under a lot of pressure. This wasn't new for me. When I was young, I was in the building industry, and then I joined the theatre. So filming was new for me, and I hadn't realised I'd be the main character.

"So I used all that pressure in the character of Ingrid."

After 32 episodes (the first series of 9 episodes is coming out today), it all came to an end. Why so?

"It was good to stop while it was still a success," muses Charlotte. "It had stopped being a challenge, really, and besides, there are only so many savage crimes to write about. The good news for real life residents of Denmark is that we were in danger of running out."

Unit One Series One is available on DVD now from Arrow Films Nordic Noir label.