Tatort (German police jargon meaning the scene of a crime) is a German language police procedural television series developed by the German television channel ARD. It is unique in its approach, in that it is jointly produced by all of the station’s regional public-service broadcasters whereby every regional station contributes a number of episodes to a common pool. Therefore, the series is a collection of different police stories where different police teams each solve crimes in their respective city. Uniqueness in architecture, customs and dialects of the cities is therefore a distinctive part of the series and often the city, not the police force is the real main character of an episode. The concept of local stations only producing a couple of shows per year has also enabled the shows to be longer (90 minutes) and more fleshed out psychologically than other weekly TV dramas.
The first episode was broadcast on November 29, 1970 and the series has been continuously on the air ever since. This makes it the longest-running TV-drama of Germany. Episodes are broadcast on ARD’s main channel Das Erste on Sunday evening at the prime viewing time of 8.15 pm (just after the 8 o’clock news) somewhere between once and twice a month. Reruns are often shown by various regional ARD stations and on foreign broadcasters. Next to the member stations of the ARD, the National Austrian broadcasting corporation Österreichischer Rundfunk joined the production pool in 1971 and airs the program on its ORF 2 channel. Switzerland’s Schweizer Fernsehen joined the pool from 1990 to 2001 and again in 2011 and distributes its episodes through its channel SRF 1.
Although not sharing the Tatort logo, the series Polizeiruf 110 by Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) is closely related to the Tatort format.