I was lucky enough to be in London recently for the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival taking place at London’s glorious Southbank. Among the events I managed to catch, was the UK premiere of series two of the Spanish TV drama, Vis a vis (Locked Up in the UK), and a Q&A session with its lead actors Berta Vázquez, Maggie Civantos and Najwa Nimri. Spanish TV seems to have come a long way in recent years with some incredible dramas being produced. With that in mind, here are three that should be on your watch list.
Period drama seems to be becoming Spanish TV’s bread and butter (or should that be bread and oil?) and Velvet is a prime example. Set in the late 50s/ early 60s, in Madrid’s most exclusive department store, Las Galerías Velvet. The story follows the lives of the shop’s staff, from the troubled owners to the seamstresses and counter staff. The show has a great cast too, with Paula Echevarría and Miguel Ángel Silvestre taking the lead. You can watch the first three series (with subtitles) on Netflix or buy the original series here.
2 – VIS A VIS
At first glance this looks exactly like Orange is the New Black, only yellow. The truth is, the series is completely different. Okay, it takes place in a women’s prison, but the story is gripping, fast-paced and on occasion cover-your-eyes gruesome. Thanks to the fantastic Walter Presents (a company that brings foreign TV to UK screens) you can catch the whole fully-subtitled first series (called Locked Up) now on All4. Or if you want to get you hands on the original, click here.
3 – GRAN HOTEL
Ahh, the one that got me hooked on Spanish drama in the first place. A mix of period drama, murder mystery, and quite possibly the most complicated plot in history, Gran Hotel is one of those series you can’t stop watching. If you liked Downton Abbey, you’ll love this. Set in a luxury hotel at the start of the 20th century, the series follows Julio (Yon González) who comes to the hotel looking for his sister and then gets caught up in the lies, loves and even murder at the hotel. The stunning scenes of the Cantabrian coast are not to be missed either. Sky Arts first showed all three subtitles series in the UK but it’s nowhere to be found at the moment. You can get the original series here though.