1 9 6 0 – 1 9 6 3 (UK)
52 x 50 minute episodes
In his trilby hat and belted mac, Maigret used to light his pipe and light up Monday nights.
First introduced to BBC TV as part of their Sunday Night Theatre presentations with Maigret and the Lost Life (6 December 1959), the character was based on a 1954 novel by Georges Simenon. Basil Sydney played Commissioner Maigret in the 75-minute production.
The series began in October 1960 with Rupert Davies achieving celebrity status in the role. At the height of the 52 episodes, he was able to command £10, 000 to make a Dubonnet commercial.
An intuitive detective – and a man of infinite patience – Maigret often investigated his cases by watching and listening, moving slowly through his list of suspects until someone made a slip or broke down and confessed.
When Georges Simenon, first met Davies he was amazed at how like Maigret he was. For a start, Davies himself was an inveterate pipe-smoker, possessing 40 pipes and a dozen kinds of tobacco. Simenon’s only complaint was that Davies’s hair was too long.
On the subject of complaints, both Maigret and that other wastrel George Dixon were accused of drinking too much on-screen by the Reverend George Boffin from Cleckheaton, Yorkshire;
“Maigret drinks such a lot it’s surprising he doesn’t fall flat on his face in the middle of every programme. It amazes me he can stay sober enough to arrest anyone”.
“And Dixon spends too much of his off-duty time in the local. I see no reason why Dixon and Maigret shouldn’t drink tea and ginger pop instead of pints of ale and bottles of wine”.
Supporting players included Ewen Solon as Maigret’s assistant, Lucas, and Helen Shingler as Madame Maigret.
Davies returned as Maigret to host the introductions to the 1964 series Detective and later revived the role in the 90-minute production Maigret At Bay for Play of the Month.
In 1988, HTV presented a two-hour telefilm called Maigret, with a rather haggard-looking Richard Harris sprinting about as Jules Maigret.
The character was revived in 1992 with Michael Gambon in the title role for Granada Television, supported by Geoffrey Hutchings as Sgt Lucas and Ciaran Madden (replaced by Barbara Flynn in the second series) as Mme Maigret.