LONDON — BBC Worldwide has inked the first international sales on TV films “Maigret Sets a Trap” and “Maigret’s Dead Man,” in which Rowan Atkinson, the star of the “Mr Bean,” “Blackadder” and “Johnny English” franchises, plays the French detective Jules Maigret.
Atkinson is best known for comedy, but the Maigret films present him with an opportunity to demonstrate his acting abilities in a straight dramatic role, in the same way that his former “Blackadder” co-star Hugh Laurie did in “House.” The first to take the bait are French public television channel France 3, German public broadcaster ARD, Swedish broadcaster TV4 and Denmark’s DR. BBC Worldwide, the U.K. broadcaster’s sales arm, launches the films at its global sales event BBC Worldwide Showcase next month.
The TV pics are adapted from Georges Simenon’s Maigret novels, which have sold around a billion books worldwide. The author wrote 75 Maigret novels, which are centered on the measured and insightful detective, and were set in Paris in the 1950s.
Tobi de Graaff, executive VP of Western Europe at BBC Worldwide, said: “The Maigret novels are some of the most classic detective stories of their time, and we’re pleased to be bringing one of the best-known characters in world literature, along with one of the greatest international stars, to viewers worldwide.”
“Maigret” is written by Stewart Harcourt (“Love & Marriage,” “Treasure Island,” “Marple”) and produced by Jeremy Gwilt (“Undeniable,” “Foyle’s War,” “Torn,” “Home Fires”). The executive producers are Barnaby Thompson (“Easy Virtue,” “Dorian Gray,” “St. Trinians”) and Ben Latham-Jones (“Nina,” “D Train,” “Midsummer Nights Dream”) for Ealing Studios, John Simenon and Paul Aggett for Maigret Productions, and Stewart Harcourt. It has been commissioned by ITV. BBC Worldwide oversees the global rights for the series in all territories outside the U.K.