It's been nearly a year since the announcement first came that Monumental Television, the UK producer best known for Harlots and Ghosts, had picked up the rights to adapt ML Longworth's Verlaque & Bonnet mysteries. The ten-books-and-counting series, set in Aix-en-Provence, features Antoine Verlaque, the charming chief magistrate of Aix, and Marine Bonnet, his law professor on-again-off-again girlfriend. The two wind up as a team solving crimes together after her close friend, local nobleman Étienne de Bremont, falls to his death, and Verlaque suspects foul play.
At the time, Shelagh Stephenson (Downton Abbey) was attached to write at least the first few episodes of what is now called Murder In Provence, but the series' buzz picked up with the casting of Roger Allam (Endeavour) as the Verlaque and Nancy Carroll (The Crown) as Marine. Also part of the cast is Keala Settle (The Greatest Showman), who plays Verlaque's detective friend Hélène and is the source of most cases that wind up in his jurisdiction. Unlike most odd couple detective stories, Verlaque is doing his job as an Investigating Judge, a fundamental role in the French judicial system.
Along with setting the cast, BritBox announced this would be the first series that was a BritBox US and BritBox UK co-production and that the streaming service would debut the show on both sides of the pond via its own platform. Also, both Stephenson and Allam would serve as executive producers.
Here's the series synopsis:
Murder in Provence follows Antoine Verlaque, Investigating Judge in Aix-en-Provence, and romantic partner Marine Bonnet as they investigate the murders, mysteries, and dark underbelly of their idyllic home. Their efforts are aided by Hélène, a detective and Antoine's trusted confidante.
At the Television Critics Association panel, Allam admitted he was drawn to the role partly because it was so different than what he'd been doing on Endeavour for the past decade. "I've always really enjoyed doing very different things. And so rather neurotically sometimes, I sometimes kind of try and do exactly the opposite of what I'm doing, what I've just been doing. So although — and this is not exactly the opposite, it's a very, very different kind of character. And that's what attracted me, really, as well as being in Aix-en-Provence for some of the time, which is a lovely place."
He also told viewers not to worry too much about his character's place in the French judicial system. Since this is a British series aimed at both UK and US audiences, and the french system is so different, they don't harp on it much. Carroll concurred that other than "one rather in-depth scene where we got to explain the ins and out of it," the show has left it alone. After all, no one questions why random priests in Grantchester solve mysteries or Father Brown and Sister Boniface run around investigating.
Murder In Provence will arrive on BritBox, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.