The first time I sat down with the private kidnap and hostage negotiator Laurent Combalbert, I felt exposed. As if Laurent’s keen mind and observant eye could see right through me. And why wouldn’t I? Here was a man who possessed the gifts of a superhero. Simply by talking to people, he was able to get them to surrender their demands. To put down their weapons. To save lives.
I fell in love with the idea of doing a show about people who solved problems with their minds rather than guns. But for co-creator David Vainola and me, turning that beautiful idea into a successful series was no easy task. There was a good reason cop shows were so successful, after all. We may well deplore violence in real life, but it’s exciting to watch on television. How do you make a show about someone who’s resolutely opposed to violence? Who insists on solving conflicts by understanding his opponent better than he understands himself, then getting him or her simply to walk away without a fight?
The answer, it turned out, was to make Ransom first and foremost a mystery. Yes, Eric Beaumont and his team are called in to resolve a kidnapping or hostage taking. But in each one of their cases, there is always a question that needs to be answered before their negotiation can be successfully concluded. It is exciting and dangerous, but the threat is inverted. In Ransom, violence is the bad guy – the thing that Eric and his team are always fighting to stop.
We were able to attract a terrific cast – Luke Roberts, Nazneen Contractor, Brandon Jay Maclaren and Sarah Greene (later succeeded by Karen LeBlanc) – but Ransom was an international co-production. So during our first season we had four different broadcasters weighing in on each and every treatment, script and edit. The work got far less complicated when that number dropped to two during our second season, and by the third season Ransom really hit its stride, continuing to tell stories about principled characters trying to stop violence, rather than threatening it. There was nothing else on television like it, and I’m hugely proud that I got to be part of bringing it to audiences around the world.