MAIGRET. Granada TV, UK. Second series: six 60-min episodes. 14 March through 18 April 1993. Michael Gambon (Chief Inspector Jules Maigret), Geoffrey Hutchings (Sgt. Lucas), Jack Galloway (Inspector Janvier), James Larkin (Inspector LaPointe).

— Reprinted from Caddish Thoughts #42, May 1993.


   A second six part series of Maigret has recently been and gone. I watched with extra vigilance after the adverse comments about the first series in Mystery & Detective Monthly. I enjoyed this series. It’s steady and reliable without being flashy or exciting and adapts the stories well into a 50-minute format.

   The difficulty of adapting stories from a long series of books to screen is to achieve a uniformity of time and character. The decision to shoot exterior scenes in Budapest, since it was easier to recreate 1950’s (the time period chosen for the series) Paris there rather than in the Paris of 1993 seemed reasonable, although exterior scenes were kept to a minimum anyway.

   I do not subscribe to the theory that English actors speaking English portraying Frenchman speaking French should adopt the accent of a Frenchman speaking English badly (as, say, Poirot — although, of course, he’s Belgian). The producers, correctly in my opinion, used the appropriate English accent to portray the rank or position of the speaker, so a doctor would speak with a polished accent where a labourer would adopt a rougher less educated one. A foreign sounding accent was only used for characters who were not French and could be assumed to be speaking French with a foreign accent.


   I thought an article in the current issue of Armchair Detective rather silly. It seems we should have had a French actor playing the part, although it isn’t made it clear if the actor should be speaking in French or English.

   If English, I suppose we’d be looking for a French actor who speaks English but not well. If they ever make a series of Lindsey Davis’s books I wonder how they’re going to cast Falco? Perhaps they’ll be able to dig up an ancient Roman from somewhere.

   The author of the article also says: “If we wanted an Englishman playing the part, we’d watch a repeat of the dreadful American TV movie starring Richard Harris.”

   I’m quite at a loss as how to evaluate this statement. Apart from the fact that Harris is not English anyway, is he saying that once an actor has portrayed a character, even if badly, he would watch it repeatedly rather that watch an actor from the same country play the same role?

   Anyway for the record the six stories were: “Maigret And The Night Club Bouncer,” “Maigret And The Hotel Majestic,” “Maigret On The Defensive,” “Maigret’s Boyhood Friend,” “Maigret And The Minister,” and “Maigret And The Maid.”