“Alarm für Cobra 11”: Fun facts of the most successful German series
1. The first episode of “Alarm für Cobra 11” ran on March 12, 1996. “Bombs at kilometer 92”. The first exploding “Cobra” bomb was disguised as a cancer can. And otherwise everything is already included in the pilot episode. People climb car roofs while driving. In the end, a car crashes into a freight train. The stunt coordinator Hermann Joha received the Golden Lion from the home broadcaster RTL. The audience rating almost reached the level of a Münster “Tatort”: ten million.
2. Cobra 11 is the radio and code name of the two inspectors. The original crew of the cockpit were Frank Stolte and Ingo Fischer. From episode 3 on, Semir Gherkan (Erdoğan Atalay) took over the steering wheel from Ingo Fischer. Atalay, Born in Hanover in 1966, is now the longest-serving German action star.
3. The man who installed the turbo in “Alarm für Cobra 11” and the German action TV film is called Hermann Joha. He decided to become a stuntman barely of legal age, later doubled Götz George and drove for the “7. Sinn “Cars in the service of traffic education to scrap. At 32, Joha founded the production and stunt company action concept in Hürth near Cologne, with which he has been responsible for “Alarm for Cobra 11” since the second year of series production. The “Cobra” stages are rotated and the car bodies temporarily stored on the action concept site. The office building serves as a commissioner’s office. Action concept is actually “Alarm for Cobra 11”.
4. “Alarm for Cobra 11” is next to „Derrick“ the best-selling German television series. It runs between Andorra and Vietnam in more than 120 countries.
5. The most expensive car that ever rolled over the asphalt of “Alarm für Cobra 11” was (in the episode “Friendship” of the tenth season) Maybach Exelero, probably the most Batmobile-like car ever built in Germany. A one-off production for the tire manufacturer Fulda. It has 700 hp, reaches a top speed of 351.45 kilometers per hour and cost eight million euros in 2005. The twelve-cylinder coupe can also be seen in the Jay-Z video “Lost one”.
6. “Alarm for Cobra 11” is not just the car because of high-speed television. An episode consists of roughly twice as many cuts as a standard German television thriller. About a thousand on average. It’s nothing for those with heart disease.
7. More than 50 directors were behind the camera in the more than 360 episodes of the 24 seasons so far. The cast at the wheel of Cobra 11 changed eight times at the side of Commissioner Semir Gerkhan. 17,000 extras played along. The star guests were Daniela Katzenberger, Elias M’Barek, Bela B., Fahri Yardim and Lothar Matthäus. And KITT, David Hasselhoff’s company vehicle in “Knight Rider”.
8. Cars are blown up with nitrogen cannons attached to the rear. Acceleration from 0 to 80 kilometers per hour in two seconds. A crew of up to 80 people need a good twelve hours to record a stunt scene lasting a good two minutes.
9. Of course, when a car takes off, not even stuntmen are behind the wheel. For filming the inside of overturning vehicles with passengers on board, there is the “Rollover simulator”, a kind of gym wheel with a car in the middle.
10. The production costs of an average “Cobra” episode are around one million euros. Almost a bargain compared to the much less accident-prone “crime scene” (1.5 million per episode).
11. The prospective accident vehicles can be obtained from car dealers and online portals. Mercedes and BMW provide the manufacturers with current pre-series vehicles.
12. A Porsche completed the longest jump of a car. It flew 200 meters through the air.
13. The greatest thump with a vehicle occurred in 2006 in the episode “Deadly Profit”. A 15 meter long tanker truck overturned. This required 200 liters of gasoline and six kilograms of explosives. The boom in the explosion of a gas pipeline in the episode “City in Fear” was even bigger. 14 vehicles were blown up with nitrogen cannons and 25 kilograms of explosives. Because a dust cloud that was as realistic as possible was required, 400 kilograms of sports field chalk and peat were also blown up.
14. Up to twenty vehicles are needed for a stunt, and some of them take weeks to prepare. More than 55,000 meters of steel tubing were installed for the roll cages of around 4,000 crash cars alone (around 800 rollovers have occurred so far).
15. Not only screwdrivers and stunt people are involved in preparing for a crash, but also a physicist, a mathematician and two engineers, for example, to calculate the possible flight paths.
16. To date, more than 7,000 vehicles have been wrecked. Three vehicles are required for each crash stunt. A so-called toy vehicle, one for the crash and one for the rollover.
17. The introduction of Tempo 100 would probably put an end to “Alarm for Cobra 11”. The freeway open to the free travel of free citizens is a major selling point for the series’ overseas sales. Especially in countries like China, from where there is almost a motorway tourism to Germany.
18. For the freeways on which Cobra 11 chases criminals, one could of course use the not few freeways around Cologne (the chases took place on a disused route in the south of Berlin, which was then torn down). In the meantime, Europe’s largest film set has been built for the Cobra in Aldenhoven near Düren – a 2,300-meter-long stretch of motorway. The autobahn police station is located on the premises of the “Cobra” production company action concept.
19. “Alarm for Cobra 11” was honored with seven World Stunt Awards (and one television prize for the best editing). However, there will hardly be a price for particularly green production for the Cologne-based company. 400 tires are worn per season. There are no surveys on gasoline consumption.
20. The heart of the series has been beating since the move from Brandenburg am Rhein between Krefeld, Cologne and Düsseldorf. But it has also been shot in the United States, Albania, Austria and Turkey.
21. 100,000 blank cartridges are fired per season. Around 1,700 suspects were arrested.
22. Something is only really successful when it is pulled through the cocoa. The “Cobra” was parodied in the comedy series “Freitag Nacht News”. “Alarm for Kebab 11 – The Döner Police” (episodes: “A Büms im Kornfeld”, “Döner gehts nisch”) operated with newly edited and synchronized scenes – all actors spoke with a Turkish accent. Martina Hill satirized the testosterone-heavy “Cobra” in three episodes of “Alarm für Mutti 11” and was ahead of her time as the first woman at the side of Eroğan Atalay alias Semir Gherkan.
23. “Alarm for Cobra 11” is of course a boy thing. There were department heads. They were rather rare in active field work. Until now. In the new season, for the first time, a commissioner sits at the wheel of Semir Gherkan (if he did not get on quickly enough and before her): Vicky Reisiger, played by Pia Stutzenstein, a commissioner with a somewhat vague background who moved from Dortmund to the Cologne autobahn has moved.
24. After the last season of the “Cobra”, almost half a soccer team left the team, including Daniel Brenner, who as Paul Brenner alongside Erdoğan Atalay alias Semir Gherkan in the “Cobra” racing car. The script team around the two head authors Andreas Brune and Sven Frauenhoff used this for fundamental changes. There is not just one new, high-tech department. But also more complex narrative structures, horizontal plot lines, more current political explosiveness (police violence, racial profiling) and characters with more depth of field.
25. The new season of the “Cobra” starts on August 20th. After a corona-related break in filming, the last new season episodes are currently being produced in the Rhineland. Due to the high production costs and the corona-related changes in the financial resources of the television stations, “Alarm für Cobra 11” is to be put to the test at RTL. The continuation of the series depends more than ever on the success of the new episodes, the new look and the new team. In any case, says head author Andreas Brune, the new season ends with a cliff hanger.