Paris Police 1905 back on BBC Four

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French historical crime drama Paris Police 1905

We have good news for lovers of historical crime drama. Five years on from Paris Police 1900, the programme is returning to UK screens with the not too mysterious title of Paris Police 1905. The first two of six episodes will air at 9pm on Saturday 4 March on BBC Four. French commentators have reported that it’s even better than the show’s first run, but if you missed that we urge you to catch up via Amazon Prime.

It’s December 1904 and the reformist prefect of police Louis Lépine (Marc Barbé) has given orders that the streets of certain Paris arrondissements must be cleared of prostitutes. Both public order and hygiene lie behind his decision – syphilis is raging in the French capital.

Meanwhile, the body of a man has been found in Bois de Boulogne. It appears he’s been shot, and another character from the first series, Antoine Jouin, played by Jérémie Laheurte, is sent to investigate. At first, it’s difficult to tell whether it was murder or suicide. Jouin also finds himself investigating the death of a child in a nearby building, but that case is further complicated when Lépine asks him to keep the investigation quiet.

Lover of an aristocratic heir and wife of a struggling artist, Meg Steinheil (Evelyne Brochu) was a key player in Paris Police 1900, and she too returns to the series. Her husband Adolphe is holding evenings where he reveals new canvases at their house. However, this is a cover for secret gambling sessions and when Lépine is invited to one, the head of police chooses to turn a blind eye. Meg’s problems are magnified when it’s revealed that her husband has syphilis.

The new series has been praised for its superb sets and costumes. For example, the costume designers made over 40 new hats for this production. Then, as now, it seems Paris was a centre of fashion and five years brought a new look which has been adhered to. However, the precarious ambiance of la belle époque remains, with the gothic overtones of the ancient city casting a particularly convincing shadow across the scenes set in Bois de Boulogne.

More will be heard from the campaigning woman lawyer, Jeanne Chauvin (Eugénie Derouand), with whom Jouin fell in love. And, something many fans have wished for is promised in the later episodes of Paris Police 1905. The glowering and violent former cop Joseph Fiersi (Thibault Evrard) will team up with Jouin to help him with the investigation, coming into the firing line when the case is linked to another murder.

Refined, pungent, poignant, suspenseful and full of troubled characters, Paris Police 1905 is looking bigger and better, as it depicts extremes of wealth and poverty, the hypocrisy of the clergy, a broken bourgeoisie and, basically, a city in turmoil. Superb work from screenwriter Fabien Nury. Let us know what you think.

The programme will air in French with subtitles, and each episode is 53 minutes in extent. Paris Police 1905 aired on Canal+ in December 2022.

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