TVNZ Has a New Cunning Plan

TVNZ has bought Rowan Atkinson’s new series, Maigret.

It stars the former Blackadder as the French equivalent of Inspector Morse.

Georges Simeon’s Parisian sleuth was last played on British TV by Michael Gambon in the 1990s but his portrayal wasn’t as popular as Rupert Davies’  in the 1960s.

Atkinson’s incarnation is being rolled out in two-hour whodunits, the first being Maigret Sets a Trap.

When it aired on ITV in March, the Daily Mail praised it as a “sumptuous and atmospheric adaptation” and said Atkinson was “a match for Michael Gambon, and few actors can boast that”.

But other critics weren’t so convinced. “Why didn’t Mr Bean find the humour in Maigret?” asked the Telegraph.

“His eyes exuded not humour but oceans of watery, world-weary concern.

“All of which was too ponderous, at times. But not bad for starters. The settings (with the boulevards and backstreets of Budapest offering a plausible imitation of Fifties Paris) and costumes were sumptuous.”

Both the Telegraph and The Times rated Maigret Sets a Trap three out of five stars and while The Australian newspaper thought it “thoroughly agreeable”, complained it “simply lacks invention and tension”.

Despite these reservations, the first telemovie won its slot in the UK and drew nearly six million viewers.

So far it and Maigret’s Dead Man have sold to more than 45 territories, and ITV has commissioned two more adaptations: Night at the Crossroads and Maigret in Montmartre.

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