Celebrate Twin Peaks' 30th anniversary with these brilliant B&W set photos

Celebrate Twin Peaks' 30th anniversary with these brilliant B&W set photos
(Image credit: Richard Beymer / In the Trees)

It may not be the official Twin Peaks Day, as recognized by the state of Washington (which falls on 28 February, when Special Agent Dale Cooper arrived in the fictional titular town), but today nonetheless marks the 30th anniversary of the seminal, surreal television series.

Twin Peaks premiered on 08 April 1990, and in its turbulent two seasons on the ABC network transformed serialized television to such an extent that it became a genuine pop culture and cult phenomenon. Indeed, such was its cultural impact that the show was resurrected in 2017 for a Limited Event Series on Showtime. 

Its tumultuous history is perhaps encapsulated no better than in its original finale. When filming the final episode of season two – at which point the show had been effectively dumped by ABC – creator David Lynch essentially threw out the shooting script and what ensued was an almost stream-of-consciousness showcase of surreality. 

The cast and crew worked all night on the nightmarish cliffhanger, set in Twin Peaks' almost purgatorial Black Lodge, filled with backwards-talking entities, sinister doppelgangers, Jimmy Scott performing a harrowing jazz ballad, dead bodies that speak, and a battle for Special Agent Dale Cooper's soul – which he lost. 

Ray Wise as Twin Peaks' tormented Leland Palmer, photographed on set by actor Richard Beymer (Image credit: Richard Beymer / In the Trees)

Knowing that the show would not be renewed by ABC, Lynch unleashed every ounce of his creativity that he felt had been shackled by the network – and, remarkably, sewed the seed for the show's return 26 years later with Laura Palmer's immortal line, " "I will see you again in 25 years" (he was off by a year, but we'll forgive him!).

With the show in its death throes, the in-house photographer had quit the production, leaving no-one to capture any further stills from the set. Lynch allowed actor Richard Beymer, who played hotelier Benjamin Horne, to bring his camera on set for the final days of filming – and he captured some incredible images that truly capture the tone of the dying days of this remarkable show. 

We highly recommend that you take a look at the galleries of Beymer's photographs on both the Welcome to Twin Peaks fansite and the In the Trees blog, where these beautiful black and white stills tell the incredible story behind the story. 

Happy birthday, Twin Peaks. 

Order Twin Peaks: The Television Collection at Amazon US
Order Twin Peaks: The Television Collection at Amazon UK

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.