Continuity is important in life. It gives stability to your existence, it creates reliabilty for your identity. Now you might be thinking of growing up in the same house or being around the same attachment figures. For me, for as long as I can remember, a secure element of continuity was Lindenstraße. Whatever happens, cannot alter one thing: on Sundays 6:50 p.m. on Channel One, Lindenstraße is on. My aunts watched it, my mom watched it and I grew up with it – and with the characters, manyof which have been in the show since the Eighties.
Lindenstraße is a German drama series that has been on TV since 1985. Inspired by the British Corontation Street, it is all about the lives of a bunch of neighbors on Lime Street. Germans generally look down on Lindenstraßen-watchers – but little do they know! Lindenstraße is always tackling important social questions and was the first show to air a gay kiss on German TV. Right now, they have a (admittedly very badly written) storyline about a transgender person, an influencer youtuber and a refugee family. And of course one family has a child with Down’s Syndrome.
Lindenstraße is set in Munich but filmed in Cologne. I found that out a few years ago and when I moved to Düsseldorf, “visiting the Lindenstraße film set” immediately went up on my bucket list. Last weekend, the day had finally come.
Officially, this was a tour of the West German Broadcasting (WDR) premises. Before the tour started, the guide asked who was here for the Lindenstraße and 80 % raised their hands. Take that, Lindenstraße-doubters!
The WDR is the largest broadcasting organization in Europe after the BBC. It produces 177 hours of radio and 37 hours of television. A day! The German regional broadcasting services (there is also a South West German, a North German, a Middle German, …) deliver content to Channel One (ARD) and the WDR makes up for 25 % of it. Consequently, their premises are not exactly small, but cover the area of a former military area in the middle of nowhere near Cologne. Together with Lindenstraße, one of their most famous and most beloved productions is “The Show with the Mouse”, a highly acclaimed children’s program, running since 1971. The Mouse teaches children about all kinds of things, for example about how toothpaste gets into a toothpaste tube. The guide told us, as we passed giant statues of the Mouse and everyone got rather excited, that the average Mouse watcher age is not 5 to 8, but 35 to 40. While I, like any good German child, watched the show when I was little, my relation with the Mouse did not continue unlike my faithfulness to Lindenstraße.
I learned so much on this tour: a camera costs 250.000 euros and is used for 30 years. To illuminate one talkshow guest on television you need four lamps. Film sets rarely have right angles because they make everything appear smaller. And when it is supposed to be fall in Lindenstraße but they are filming in summer, they employ people to pluck the leaves off the lime trees.