PBS has begun to air Maigret, a British television series produced by ITV in 2016 and 2017. It is an adaptation of the books by Georges Simenon featuring his fictional French detective Jules Maigret played by Rowan Atkinson and set in the mid-1950s. With beautiful cinematography and Atkinson playing an impressive dramatic role that is a vast departure from his comedic roles like Mr. Bean, the series is a visual feast for Citroën fanatics in that it is packed with Traction Avants, H Vans, vintage Citroën trucks as well an assortment of other French classic cars of the era.
The series takes on a ‘film-noir’ tone, further enhancing the feel of those type of French movies where we most expect to see Tractions. There are 4 episodes:
Maigret Sets a Trap – Maigret comes under pressure from his superiors and the press to catch a serial killer of women with no common feature except their hair. Making no progress Maigret sets a trap using undercover police women. The trap yields a clue to a suspect with a possessive wife and mother but a sixth murder while his suspect is in custody throws doubt on Maigret’s theory and his superiors decide to replace him as an investigator of the case.
Maigret’s Dead Man – The body of a Jewish jeweller is found in the car of a Danish national who lives with his sister. When the man is taken in for questioning, he denies all knowledge of the murder, but establishing his true identity is problematic. Maigret attends the funeral of an old colleague and then works with another old colleague on the case.
Maigret at the Crossroads – The body of a Jewish jeweller is found in the car of a Danish national who lives with his sister. When the man is taken in for questioning, he denies all knowledge of the murder, but establishing his true identity is problematic. Maigret attends the funeral of an old colleague and then works with another old colleague on the case.
Maigret in Montmartre – Arlette, an exotic dancer at a Pigalle club, comes to the police for help, telling Maigret about a “countess” who is in grave danger, but she then flees, distrustful and afraid. Soon afterwards, she is found murdered; then, the countess’ body is discovered. Maigret must discover the link between the two women as he and his men hunt for the killer in Montmartre’s streets.
There have been a few Maigret television series produced over the years and all have had Citroëns predominantly featured. The first television series which was broadcast from 1960 until 1963, had the late English actor Rupert Davies in the starring role. Below is a photo of Rupert Davies posing as Commissaire Jules Maigret in his Traction Avant. He liked it so much that he purchased it from the French car rental company and took it home after the end of filming!