Monday, 28 March 2016


[March 30, 2016] Paris, 1955. Four women are murdered on the streets of Montmartre in a spree of seemingly unconnected attacks. Chief Inspector Maigret must find the killer before he strikes again.

Maigret Sets A Trap is the first of ITV's two new TV movies with Rowan Atkinson as Maigret.

The bottom line: Raymond Fowler in an episode of The Inspector minus the humour.

Created by Belgian author Georges Simenon, Commissaire Jules Maigret appeared in 75 novels and 28 short stories published between 1931 and 1972. Popular worldwide, these stories have been adapted many times in various countries, essentially for the cinema (with Pierre Renoir, Albert Préjean, Jean Gabin...) and television. Rupert Davies portrayed "Inspector Maigret" in Maigret for the BBC from 1960 to 1963. In France, Les enquêtes du commissaire Maigret, with Jean Richard, ran from 1967 to 1990 with 88 episodes until France 2 (then Antenne 2 ) replaced it by Maigret, starring movie, stage and TV actor Bruno Cremer.

Cremer played the iconic role in 54 episodes from 1991 to 2005 and his Maigret, filmed primarily in Prague, is still considered as the definitive adaptation of Simenon's character. Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Granada aired its own Maigret (with Michael Gambon) between 1992 and 1993. And last year, ITV announced the return of Jules Maigret to British TV with two films for television starring English comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson. Maigret Sets A Trap is adapted from Maigret tend un piège by Stewart Harcourt (Agatha Raisin, Agatha Christie's Marple) and directed by Ashley Pearce. Harcourt also adapted the second TV movie, Maigret's Dead Man (from Maigret et son mort), directed by Jon East.

In France, the reaction to ITV's announcement was "Mr Bean to play Maigret", regardless of the fact that Jean Richard, who played the commissaire for 23 years, was mainly known as a "funnyman" before his TV series. Actually the most regrettable thing with the casting of Rowan Atkinson is that the channel had the ideal Jules Maigret on hand with Roger Allam, who plays DI Thursday in Endeavour since 2012. Atkinson just can't capture the presence and the authority of the detective. Worse, he looks like he's trying hard not to have an expression which contributed to make him a revered comedian.

At least there's solace in the excellent supporting cast: Lucy Cohu (Madame Maigret), Shaun Dingwall (Inspector Janvier), Aidan McArdle (Judge Comeliau), Leo Staar (Inspector Lapointe), Colin Mace (Inspector Lognon), Mark Heap (Moers), Rebecca Night (Yvonne Moncin), Rufus Wright (Morel), Fiona Shaw (Madame  Moncin), the amazing David Dawson (Marcel Moncin), etc. Budapest doubles as Paris, like in the Granada series. The Hungarian capital does it rather well but in case of doubt there's a gargoyle, French flags here and there, plus some cryptic lyrics on a beautiful theme composed by Samuel Sim (Home Fires).

Maigret is produced by Ealing Studios with Maigret Productions Ltd (a Peters Fraser Dunlop Group company) and distributed by BBC Worldwide. Jeremy Gwylt is the producer. Barnaby Thompson, John Simenon (Georges Simenon's son) and Stewart Harcourt are the executive producers. Rowan Atkinson is famous all over the world and those ITV/BBC feature-length crime dramas usually work more than well. Ask France 3, where the new chief inspector will join Midsomer Murders, Endeavour or Vera. Maigret sets a trap caught 5.7m viewers (28%). Maigret's Dead Man will be shown later in the year.

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