Monday, 13 February 2017


Based on the best-seller by María Dueñas, the lavish Spanish period drama The Time in Between (El Tiempo entre Costuras, 2013-2014) is available since last autumn on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films under the title L'espionne de Tanger.

El Tiempo entre Costuras is set in Spain, Morocco and Portugal, from the 1930s to the 1940s. It stars Adriana Ugarte as Sira Quiroga, a young Spanish seamstress drawn into the world of espionage and political intrigue before World War II.

 « A typewriter shattered my destiny. » (María Dueñas, The Time in Between)

Published in June 2009, El Tiempo entre Costuras is the first novel of María Dueñas, a professor at the University of Murcia. The book sold millions of copies around the world in more than 25 languages (1). Spanish private channel Antena 3 bought the rights in 2010 with the ambition to turn the literary phenomenon into a television sensation. Three scriptwriters (Susana López Rubio, Alberto Grondona, Carlos Montero) and three directors (Iñaki Mercero, Iñaki Peñafiel, Norberto López Amado) worked on the 11 x 80-minute adaptation, produced by Boomerang TV (Los misterios de Laura).

The Time in Between was filmed from summer 2011 to January 2012 in 100 locations and over 254 sets between the three countries where the novel takes place: Spain (Madrid, Toledo, Guadalajara), Morocco (Tangiers and Tétouan) and Portugal (Lisbon, Cascais and Estoril). 135 actors and more than 2.500 extras worked on the series, whose budget was estimated in over 500.000 euros per episode. The productions of the BBC and HBO were the references of executive producers Emilio A. Pina and Reyes Baltanás.

 « My  name  is  Sira  Quiroga  and I’m  a  seamstress.  I  never  imagined  my  fate  would be to run across town in a foreign country  with  a  suit  of  guns  on  my  skin. »

Madrid, 1934. Sira Quiroga, a seamstress in her twenties, works with her single mother Dolores in a sewing workshop. Sira is engaged to Ignacio, a modest civil servant, but she falls madly in love with typewrite salesman Ramiro Arribas, much to her mother's disapproval. As Spain goes through troubled times, Gonzalo Alvarado, Sira's estranged father, wants to meet his daughter in order to give her money and jewels. Ramiro persuades Sira to use this fortune to open a business in the Tangier International Zone of the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco. They leave months before the Spanish coup of July 1936 and live a life of luxury until Sira, who got pregnant, is abandoned by her lover.

Penniless and indebted, the young woman loses her baby on her way to Tétouan. There, a comprehensive police commissioner gives her time to pay the debts which prevent her return to Spain and finds her a shelter at the guesthouse of Candelaria "La Matutera". The search for a passport leads Sira Quiroga into a perilous situation but the money she gets allows her to establish a haute couture dress shop with "La Matutera". Sira befriends with one of her clients, Rosalinda Fox, mistress of the Protectorate High Commissioner Juan Luis Beigbeder. Thanks to Rosalinda and Marcus Logan, a British reporter, Sira reunites with her mother.

The Spanish Civil War ends in 1939. Rosalinda Fox asks Sira Quiroga to put up a haute couture shop in Madrid and spy on the wives of German officials for British Intelligence in order to prevent the participation of Spain in a conflict between Germany and England. Sira accepts and arrives in the Spanish capital as the mysterious dressmaker Arish Agoriuk. She has to approach Ramon Serrano Suñer, General Franco's brother-in-law, and the ruthless Portuguese businessman Manuel Da Silva. But she also confronted with her past. Adriana Ugarte, noted for her TV work (Stolen Children, The Lady) and films like Lo contrario al amor (2011), wonderfully portrays seamstress/spy Sira Quiroga.

The rest of the outstanding cast includes Raúl Arévalo (Ignacio), Elvira Mínguez (Dolores), Pepa Rus (Paquita), Rubén Cortada (Ramiro Arribas), Carlos Santos (Félix Aranda), Francesc Garrido (Gran Reserva, Los Hombres de Paco) as Claudio Vázquez, English actress Hannah New (Rosalinda), Tristán Ulloa (Beigbeder), Peter Vives (Marcus Logan), established Portuguese actor Filipe Duarte (Manuel Da Silva), American actor Ben Temple (Allan Hillgarth), etc. Fans of El Ministerio del Tiempo will recognize Peter Fox, Rosalinda's husband: it's Los Angeles born actor Jimmy Shaw, who plays Paul Walcott in the Spanish cult sci-fi series. The superb music was composed by César Benito (La Chica de Ayer). Costume designer Bina Daigeler (Volver) was in charge of dressing the characters.

Aired on October 21, 2013, the premiere of The Time in Between was seen by 5.018.000 viewers (25.5%), making it the most watched premiere on Antena 3 in 12 years. The 11 episodes caught an average of 4.910.000 viewers (25.5%). A deserved success for a drama filled with romance, adventure, espionage, suspense, History and splendid locations. In France, El Tiempo entre Costuras arrived last year on Netflix. The 5-disc DVD set from Koba Films contains a 17 x 55-minute version with both the French dubbing and the original Spanish dialogue track, subtitled or not.

(1) Published in English under the titles The Time in Between and The Seamstress.

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