The Rowan Atkinson Maigret appears on our screens for the first time tonight in Maigret Sets a Trap (9PM on ITV).
A killer stalks and murders young women in the Montmartre district of 1955 Paris, a city still struggling to its feet after the Second World War.
But the police, led by the dour, distant, thoughtful Jules Maigret (Rowan Atkinson), are lost. No leads, no clues, nothing. As the newspapers bay for information and a resolution, Maigret baits a trap to lure the killer.
I’ll be reviewing the first episode over at The Killing Times.
There have been doubts expressed about Atkinson’s ability to play it straight, and he clearly considered that himself:
‘Generally speaking I haven’t played many ordinary men. I tend to play odd men, or people who are more characterised, more eccentric, and with a particular attitude to life.
‘I think if we made more of these I might let him out a bit. I felt as though he was very self-contained. I wouldn’t want him to be any more comic. But that’s just work in progress, and he’s bound to change. I wouldn’t claim that he’s a perfect creation straight out of the box but it is an optimistic start.’
Although he has studied previous Maigrets (Michael Gambon was the most recent TV Maigret in the UK), he says he has developed his own interpretation:
‘This is a new project and, even though the stories are old, everything about the film is new. The style, the direction etc. is relevant to the 21st century.’
One aspect of the character hasn’t changed, though:
‘The pipe and pipe-smoking is definitely a very important part of Maigret, his attitude, his world and his time and certainly there was never any attempt to excise it.’
I look forward to watching.