Maigret’s Dead Man, Rowan Atkinson, ITV

ROWAN ATKINSON as Maigret. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

He’s back – Rowan Atkinson as Maigret

It’s a Gallic shrug for Rowan Atkinson’s return as the Parisian detective

★★½ ITV, Christmas Day, 9pm

‘TIS THE SEASON to enjoy cosy costume crime. Nothing too bloody or realistic. So while the Beeb is giving us Agatha Christie’s The Witness for the Prosecution, ITV has another helping of Rowan Atkinson’s Maigret.

This take on Georges Simenon’s creation hardly caused a ripple when it was unveiled to us with Maigret Sets a Trap last Easter. In fact, as I write this, Maigret is currently in last place in our poll of favourite 2016 crime series (see below). However, ITV seem desperate to make this work having finally run out of Poirot’s to make.

 This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Rough stuff – John Light as baddie Dacourt

There are 76 Maigret novels and 28 short stories to plunder. That would keep us up to our trilbies in Parisian sleuthing for decades.

Shaun Dingwall, Lucy Cohu and Aiden McCardle

So does Maigret’s Dead Man finally ignite into a must-see drama? It is handsomely produced and the cast features good performers, such as Shaun Dingwall, Lucy Cohu and Aiden McCardle.

 MAIGRET Pictured : LUCY COHU as Madame Maigret. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Lucy Cohu as Madame Maigret

And the dual tale – of a farmhouse slaughter in Picardy and the kidnap and killing of a man in Paris – are pretty juicy.

However, despite the money and expertise lavished on the production, it is plodding and unconvincing. Anyone who has got into Nordic noir in recent years or top French series such as Spiral over on BBC4, have got over the language hangup and enjoy the foreignness of it all. [Read more…]

Maigret, ITV, Rowan Atkinson

MAIGRET MAIGRET SETS A TRAP Pictured:ROWAN ATKINSON as Maigret. Photographer: Colin Hutton. This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to MAIGRET

More in the pipeline: Rowan Atkinson as Maigret

Rowan Atkinson takes on the role of one of the 20th-century’s best-loved fictional detectives

★★★½ ITV, Easter Monday, 28 March, 9pm

ROWAN ATKINSON thought about accepting the role of Chief Inspector Jules Maigret for three months, then turned it down. It’s a big ask to breathe life into one of the most popular fictional cops ever, and even as super-successful a performer as Atkinson had to weigh it up carefully.

‘I read it, thought about it for three months and then decided I didn’t want to do it,’ he says. ‘Which is the kind of thing I often do. Not because I didn’t want to do it but because I wasn’t sure I could do it.’

He was offered the role again a year later. ‘Even then I had to think about it for some time because I had to believe I could play it.’ He admits the idea of playing a TV detective ‘felt like a bit of a cliche’.

Will Maigret succeed for ITV as Poirot did?

MAIGRET MAIGRET SETS A TRAP Pictured:REBECCA NIGHT as Yvonne Moncin. Photographer: Colin Hutton. This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to MAIGRET

Suspicions: Rebecca Night as Yvonne Moncin

So what clinched it? ‘The odd thing about him as a character is he’s not much of a character,’ Atkinson says. ‘He’s fairly bland. He hasn’t got a French accent or a limp or a lisp and he doesn’t love opera. There isn’t a tremendous amount to get hold of in character terms. He’s just an ordinary guy doing a slightly extraordinary job in a quite unpleasant world.

“The thing I thought I could do was his thoughtfulness. That it’s his ruminative, thoughtful and quite compassionate side, I suppose, which is interesting. Because he’s definitely not an egotist, he’s not a performer, he’s not an eccentric, he’s not a weirdo.’

So, how does he do in the role? After all this is a big deal for ITV and would be a terrific new franchise for the network following the conclusion of Poirot.

Does Rowan Atkinson work as Maigret?

I would say he’s fine without being great. Part of the problem is that the pipe-smoking sleuth is, as Atkinson says, a bit bland and low-key. There is also the awkwardness of getting over our expectation that he’s going to pull a face at any moment.

MAIGRET MAIGRET SETS A TRAP Pictured:COLIN MACE as Lognon. Photographer: Colin Hutton. This image is the copyright of ITV and must only be used in relation to MAIGRET

Fagged out: Colin Mace as Lognon

However, the first film of two, Maigret Sets a Trap, is two-hours long, so there is time to get used to him in a straight role. He’s helped by the opener being a pretty good story, set during a Parisian heatwave in 1955 as a serial killer of women terrorises Montmartre.

The detective is under huge pressure from the press and politicians to capture the killer before he can claim a fifth victim. The city (actually Budapest) and period are lovingly recreated, and the production values are high, as you’d expect these days. [Read more…]

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