New! Anglo-French drama The Tunnel / Penguin Classics Simenon series

Continuing with last week’s French theme, two bits of news about Anglo-French (or Belgian French-language) collaborations:

1. New crime drama The Tunnel, inspired by the Swedish-Danish Bron/Broen (The Bridge), premieres on Sky Atlantic tomorrow,  Wednesday 16th October, at 9pm.

The Tunnel images - Stephen Clemence

Introducing Elise and Karl…

Here’s the series blurb from the channel’s website:

>> The Tunnel is a gripping new thriller from the makers of Broadchurch, set against the backdrop of Europe in crisis.

When a prominent French politician is found dead at the mid point of the Channel Tunnel, on the border between the UK and France, detectives Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane) and Elise Wassermann (Clémence Poésy) are sent to investigate on behalf of their respective countries. The case takes a surreal turn when a shocking discovery is made at the crime scene, forcing the French and British police into an uneasy partnership.

As the serial killer uses ever more elaborate and ingenious methods to highlight the moral bankruptcy of modern society, Karl and Elise are drawn deeper into his increasingly personal agenda. <<

The 10-part series boasts an Anglo-French writing team, and is ‘the result of an entente cordiale with France’s CANAL+’. You can watch the first five minutes on the Sky Atlantic website here. Having had a peek, I think they’ve caught the tone of the original very well – gritty and atmospheric, but with a sharp sense of humour – and it looks like the dynamic between the Saga-like French cop and her rather more dour British counterpart is going to be good.

As I don’t happen to have access to the channel in question, I will be relying on UK viewers for some reviews…

2. Starting in November, Penguin Classics will be publishing all 75 of acclaimed Belgian writer Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novels. They will appear in shiny new translations at the rate of one per month, with Pietr the Latvian first off the presses.

I’ve not read nearly enough Simenon, and have always felt a little guilty about this lack given the breadth of his work and its influence (his novels have been translated into over 50 languages and adapted into more than 90 films).

And how to resist writing like this (courtesy of a little booklet Penguin sent me)?

‘It was a ridiculous situation. The inspector knew there wasn’t one chance in ten that his surveillance would be of any use.

Yet he stuck it out – just because of a vague feeling that didn’t even deserve to be called an intuition. In fact it was a pet theory of his that he’d never worked out in full and remained vague in his mind… What he sought, what he waited and watched out for, was the crack in the wall. In other words, the instant when the human being comes out from behind the opponent.’

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26 thoughts on “New! Anglo-French drama The Tunnel / Penguin Classics Simenon series

    • I don’t get the channel that The Tunnel is showing on, so will have to wait a little while. Looking forward to hearing some reviews from others in the interim… As for the Simenon – yes, very exciting indeed.

  1. Simenon has been almost impossible to get hold of at a reasonable price and my library has no holdings at all, so this is very welcome news. I may not be buying all 75 of them, but will definitely be in the market for at least the first. By the way, I heard a review of ‘The Tunnel’ on the radio as I was driving home this evening and the basic opinion was that if you had seen the original there would be no point in watching this. As I don’t have the relevant channel either it really isn’t an issue!

    • Thanks, Alex. It looks like the Simenon will be a major new series for Penguin Classics and they’re going to put a lot of effort into promoting it. We should lobby our libraries to get the whole set!

      Having seen the first 5 minutes of The Tunnel, I would be ready to give it a go. Even if the plot were identical to the original, it would be worth it for the interplay between the two leads, especially given the twist of an Anglo-French pairing (cue lots of gags about the Brits and appalling language skills). It did look like good quality stuff rather than a cheap rip-off.

  2. I too don’t have the channel that ‘The Tunnel’ is being shown on, and there are probably thousands +, of people who don’t either. Had a quick squizz on the Sky Atlantic website and it does look good. Perhaps one day one of the Freeview channels will pick it up. I live in hope!!!

  3. The Tunnel does look good. If it ever is available on DVD, Netflix… I was trying to figure out why Clemency Poesy looked familiar. She was in In Bruges. Other things too, but I only saw In Bruges.

    I am looking forward to the new editions of Maigret novels, also, although I will read some I have on hand (in old or newer editions) first.

  4. Both French originals and English translations of Simenon tend to be pricey in the US, and this includes the eBooks. Even at reduced cost, 75 Maigrets will add up. What I really look forward to are the innovations the new translators offer.

  5. Pity I don’t have Sky Atlantic among the many many channels I do have, one of which repeated the Michael Gambon Maigret TV series a couple of years ago. Not quite up to the superb Rupert Davies black and white series of the 1960s but that might be my memory playing tricks.

  6. Seens I’m one of the few people who does have Atlantic! Watched it last night very good indeed. It
    does follow the original, but the interplay of the two main leads are excellent. Good bit of casting re
    Stephen Dillane, might not have worked without him. I’ll keep watching. Other than DVD, or someone recording it for you, don’t know how you’ll see it.
    Sorry not a fan of Simone, but might give him ago, if I can find the time! The new Leif Persson was
    download to my iPad last Thursday, took it to Bromley house to start reading, you know that saying
    About London buses! the new Nesbo was waiting for me. Then the following day the new JC Wagner! So had to put the Persson on hold. Nesbo new one a real rollercaster of a read, but found
    the ending disappointing, what did you think? Enjoying the JCW.

    • Hi Brian. I remembered that you had this channel and have been waiting for your verdict. VERY pleased to hear that it lived up to expectations. Thanks for letting us know!

      Ah, the new Nesbo. I’m afraid I was underwhelmed, which was a shame, as I was really hoping I’d enjoy it. Way too much gratuitous violence for my liking.

      New JC Wagner: looking forward to this very much, so I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying it.

  7. I love the Maigret novels and sometimes blog about them, most recently, Maigret’s Little Joke, which was excellent. My French isn’t that good, but the language is fairly straightforward and with a downloaded French dictionary I can just about manage the original on my ereader and it’s well worth it. Maigret calls everyone ‘vous’, even his closest colleagues, except for Madame Maigret!

    • Thanks, Chrissie. I think reading foreign language crime fiction in parallel with a translation or dictionary is a great way to improve language skills. Educational and entertaining: what could be better?

      That’s an interesting point about the formal ‘vous’ – it’s something that would be lost in translation of course, because we don’t have that distinction ourselves. Translation into German (Sie/Du) would work better!

      • Mrs. P wrote “That’s an interesting point about the formal ‘vous’ – it’s something that would be lost in translation of course, because we don’t have that distinction ourselves. Translation into German (Sie/Du) would work better!”

        I’ve written a novel in French, and when I translated into English, the hardest part was figuring out how to expressing tu/vous dialogue.

  8. I’d love to see The Tunnel over here. Can’t wait until it gets to the States.
    And I may read a few more Inspector Maigret books. It’s not a series I’ve been
    compelled to read, although I’ve read a few.
    I like the old black and white series about Maigret. Lots of fun.
    Am reading the new Camillieri: Treasure Hunt. It’s a lot of fun, which
    starts on page one. A reader can always count on the Vigata curmudgeon
    to be entertaining.
    In this one there are two elderly religiious lunatics with a house full of
    religious statues, and the two are shooting at Salvo and his team. Lots
    of fun.

  9. Having had a few days to mull over the Nesbo, I fear you are right! The gruesome way he kills off one of his main characters is very disappointing. I wonder if he is fed up with his creation? The way the plots get more involved & violent. Is it a case of contract obligations!
    Another excellent read from JC Wagnar, he really is a writer worth following. Just started the new
    Persson ‘ a tale for grown up wicked children’ brill. Now this is a writer I’d love to hear or read an interview with.

    • Yes, I wasn’t impressed by that decision at all, Brian, I have to say. To me, it was very much a thriller written with a film adaptation in mind – plot twists and threatening situations left, right and centre. I couldn’t keep track of it all by the end. And there was one plot line that seemed to have been left unresolved. Not sure if this was deliberate or not.

      Glad to hear that the Wagner was a good one. I recently finished He Who Kills the Dragon and thoroughly enjoyed it. I find Persson’s novels a very satisfying read always.

  10. ‘He who kills the Dragon’. The highest praise I could give this is to put it alongside ‘ The Locked Room’, which is my favourite S&W novel. The more I read the more it seemed a ‘Homage’ to them,
    even slipping in the mighty Gunvald Larsson! One could just imagine his reaction to a police Gold
    medal! Lets not forget ‘ that tiered old professor, Persson’ Lovely.
    So now we wait & see what he comes up with next, certainly introduced some interesting new characters ‘ The Attach Dyke’, better knowen as Annika Caarlsson, & that psychopathic black cop!
    Also Anna Holt is coming along nicely. Falling Freely… is due out on the 25/02/14, but no publication date for The Dying Detective’. Would guess October ’14. Interestingly I noticed on his
    Agency’s website, they seem to have anyone who’s anyone in Scandi crime writing, that there’s an
    English Sample in publication details of one of his earlier novels, for UK & US Publishers?
    Yes for lovers of Sjowall & Wahloo he is a real joy.

    • I’m glad to hear you liked this one so much, Brian. I thought it was great too, and very much enjoyed the slick reference to Persson’s professional role. If pushed I would probably put Linda a touch ahead, but am utterly intrigued to see what happens to Backstrom in the third installment. He’s an amazing creation, and one that it would be so very easy to get wrong, given his less than savoury attitudes to women / any kind of foreigner (and so on…). Only the best of writers could pull something like this off.

      Yes, the Salomonsson Agency website is a treasure trove of Scandi delights, isn’t it?

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