It was announced quite a while ago that Rowan Atkinson, best known for playing Mr Bean and Blackadder, was the surprise choice to portray Jules Maigret in a new series of British feature-length TV episodes for ITV. Filming has now commenced on adaptations by Stewart Harcourt of Maigret Sets a Trap (a novel which I previously reviewed here) and Maigret’s Dead Man. And now there is the first press image released to promote the series. It offers nothing too surprising, but then it is just a teaser – what do we think? It certainly doesn’t stray too far from what one might have imagines here, sticking closely to the bare archetypal essentials of what we would associate with such series (pipe, waistcoat, fedora, our lead actor looking very serious).
The new show seems to be following quite closely in the footsteps of the 1992-93 Maigret TV series previously produced by ITV that starred Michael Gambon as the pipe-puffing Parisian policeman. Like that previous version, the new show will be set in the 1950s and is being filmed in Hungary. And in fact Maigret Sets a Trap was also adapted for that show.
I always felt that the Gambon series, despite good intentions and a string cast, was a bit of an honourable failure, dull and plodding and never quite able to establish its own style or mood (it didn’t help either that they switched the actor playing Mrs Maigret between the two seasons either). It will be interesting to see if this fares any better – doubtless for most potential viewers the make or break factor will be Atkinson’s performance. Can he pull off such a serious role, playing one of the great icons of detective fiction? We’ll probably have to wait until 2016 to find out …
For the full press release, click here.