Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst
Aktenzeichen XY ... ungelöst (German for "Case number XY ... Unsolved") is an interactive German television programme first broadcast on 20 October 1967 on ZDF. Created by Eduard Zimmermann, it aims to combat and solve crimes. The programme is currently presented by Rudi Cerne. It airs monthly, with 12 episodes in a year, on Wednesday at 8:15 PM.
|Aktenzeichen XY ... ungelöst|
|Created by||Eduard Zimmermann|
|Presented by||Eduard Zimmermann (1967–1997)|
Thaddäus "Teddy" Podgorski (1968–1971)
Peter Nidetzky (1971–2002)
Werner Vetterli (1969–1976)
Konrad Toenz (1979–1998)
Stephan Schifferer (1998–2002)
Sabine Zimmermann (1987–2001)
Butz Peters (1997–2001)
Rudi Cerne (2002–present)
|Narrated by||Wolfgang Grönebaum (1967–1989)|
Michael Brennicke (1989–2019)
|Opening theme||Heinz Kiessling|
|Country of origin||Germany|
|Executive producer||Claus Legal|
|Running time||90 minutes|
|Production companies||Securitel, ZDF|
The goal of the programme is to throw light on unsolved offences with the aid of viewers. Each episode contains three to five short films, each lasting about ten minutes, in which a real criminal case is reconstructed. The cases are mostly complex ones in which the criminals and chains of events are still unknown. In addition cases are discussed in the studio in which, for example, the identities of criminals or unknown murder victims are sought with the aid of a photo. Viewers can use the telephone or Internet to give information. According to a study by the programme's editorial department, about forty percent of cases shown on the programme are solved.
The creator and first presenter of the programme was Eduard Zimmermann. After the programme's 300th episode he passed the presentership onto Butz Peters, who fronted the show together with Zimmermann's daughter Sabine. Since 18 January 2002 Aktenzeichen XY has been presented by Rudi Cerne.
With Aktenzeichen XY Eduard Zimmermann and ZDF succeeded in starting a TV format that had not existed worldwide until 1967. Although news reports had often shown photofits, an actual independent show of this type was unknown at this time.
The idea came to Zimmermann during his work with the programme Vorsicht Falle! (Eng: Beware, Trap!) first broadcast in 1963, in which he warned the viewers of "Nepper, Schlepper und Bauernfänger" (Eng: Scammers, Hustlers and Conmen). The viewers frequently sent him information regarding descriptions of the fraudsters on the programme. This gave him the idea to use the medium of TV to work with the police on unsolved crimes. In a biographical statement Zimmerman also admitted that his motivation for both programmes was partly a personal one; he himself is a victim of fraud.
Aktenzeichen XY was initially produced in the ZDF studios in Wiesbaden, before moving to the FSM studios in Unterföhring from 1969. From 15 March 1968, the Austrian public broadcaster ORF became a joint producer of Aktenzeichen XY, with a segment focusing on Austria hosted first by Thaddäus "Teddy" Podgorski (de) from 1968 until 1971, then by Peter Nidetzky (de) from 1971 until 2002; which from 24 January 1969 was also joined by Schweizer Fernsehen (SF), with a segment focused on Switzerland hosted firstly by Werner Vetterli from 1969 until 1976, then by Konrad Toenz (de) from 1976 until 1998, and finally Stephan Schifferer from 1998 until 2002.
An attempt to extend Aktenzeichen XY beyond West Germany first took place on 18 July 1969, when ZDF and the Dutch public broadcaster NOS produced a joint episode featuring Dutch journalist Johan van Minnen from a studio in Enschede, with NOS providing simultaneous translations from German to Dutch. That project was however unsuccessful due to language barriers and was abandoned after said broadcast. A more successful attempt took place on 14 July 1972, when the West German branch of the American Forces Network (AFN) took part in a broadcast of Aktenzeichen XY, with simultaneous interpretation into English on AFN TV. The first colour episode of Aktenzeichen XY aired on ZDF on 16 January 1975.
On 8 November 2002, the broadcast of the 350th episode was celebrated, after Aktenzeichen XY had been on the air for 35 years. Eduard Zimmermann was the guest of Rudi Cerne on his own programme, which concerned a several-decades-old crime that had particularly touched him - the Ursula Herrmann kidnapping, about a young girl who was buried alive in a crate for extortion on 15 September 1981 (a case similar to the case of Barbara Jane Mackle. At the time 3,228 cases had been featured on the show, of which 1,182 had been solved. 1,880 people had been sought and 914 of them had been caught. This included 624 murder cases.
In April 2012 the program received international public attention of a somewhat amusing nature when one of its case re-enactment performers, German actor Aaron Defant, was erroneously arrested in Stuttgart following his portrayal of a jewel robber in the episode of 14 March 2012 and a call to the police by one of the program's viewers. This misunderstanding was, however, cleared very swiftly.
A 2-hour special episode of Aktenzeichen XY aired on 16 October 2013, dealing with the case of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal in 2007 at the age of three. McCann's parents and a Scotland Yard detective were also featured in the broadcast. A record 24.3% audience share was recorded in that episode alone. On 3 June 2020, the Criminal Police Office presented a new suspect on Aktenzeichen XY ... ungelöst and made again a public appeal for information relating to the Madeline. The police stated that they received useful information regarding the new suspect in 2013 after the case was first featured on Aktenzeichen XY, but that it took years to find substantial evidence for prosecution, and that they still need more information.
The programme is known for large viewership in all age groups. In 2014, Aktenzeichen XY is still watched by around six million viewers with an audience share by 20%.
The private broadcaster Sat.1 and the public broadcaster MDR both produced similar programmes, known as Fahndungsakte (Eng: Manhunt Files) and Kripo live respectively. SAT.1 cancelled Fahndungsakte in 2000 after three years' run due to low audience figures. MDR has had more success with Kripo Live since 1992, which concentrates on Kriminalpolizei.
The format has been sold to several countries, including Great Britain, where it has been known as Crimewatch since 1984, the Netherlands (Opsporing verzocht, 1975), Israel (Crime Investigation, 1986), Poland (Magazyn Kryminalny 997, 1986–2010, 2017–; 997: Fajbusiewicz na tropie 2013–17), New Zealand (Crimewatch, 1987–1996; Crimescene 1997–98), Hungary (Az XY Akta Megoldatlan, 1992) and Ireland (Crimecall, 2005).
Aktenzeichen XY is the only German television format to have entered the American market, where it is known as America's Most Wanted and was broadcast from 1988 to 2013.
- Jens Witte: So gut wie echt, Spiegel Online, April 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-09 (de).
- Newser.com: Actor Aaron Defant Arrested For Heist He Reenacted On TV. April 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
- Fall Maddie treibt „Aktenzeichen“ auf Rekordhöhe
- "New suspect identified in Madeleine McCann case". BBC News. 2020-06-03. Retrieved 2020-06-04.
- "Wir gehen davon aus, dass das Mädchen tot ist" (German)