Tag Archives: Candice Renoir

Candice Renoir: France does crime drama with a difference

Cécile Bose mixes parenting with police work as the star of French crime drama Candice Renoir. She speaks to DQ about the long-running series as filming for its fifth season gets underway.

Amid the glut of hard-hitting, gritty crime series on television, Candice Renoir stands out from the crowd.

The show sees the titular protagonist – described as “a police lieutenant, divorced, four kids – and a blonde bombshell” – return from a 10-year career break spent raising her family to resume her duties in a port town in the south of France.

But despite facing defiance from her unit and a cynical superior, she determines to solve the most complex cases using common sense, acute observation and her experience of family life – for example, catching a killer because she knows the chemical make-up of a window-cleaning product.

Produced by Boxeur de Lune, the show is now in its fourth season on France 2, with production already underway on a fifth outing.

Candice Renoir
Candice Renoir, described as a ‘female Columbo,’ is played by Cécile Bois

Audiences in Germany (ZDFneo), Canada (Radio Canada), Portugal (RTP2), Italy (Fox Crime) and Estonia (Kanal 11) have also fallen for Renoir’s charms following sales by Newen Distribution.

And Cécile Bois, who plays Candice, says there’s more to her character than meets the eye. “She’s not a cop. First of all, she’s a woman, a mother and then she’s a policewoman,” she says. “Candice Renoir is not the story of a policewoman, it’s the story of a mother who works in the police.

“The showrunners are doing a great job to get the balance between crime and family in the scripts. It’s always in their mind when they’re writing the scenarios. But I also put some of my own background into the character. When I feel like an investigation is too powerful, I try to create an atmosphere that shows the mother and woman she can be and play with the complexity of the character.”

That character, however, is not a superhero, Bois notes, adding that viewers like the fact she is flawed. “She’s not perfect, she doesn’t have an amazing body,” she explains. “She’s much more than just an object. She recognises her own defects. Female viewers can identify with the character. She’s not pretending to be anyone else; she has a lot of humanity. She can be tough but also quite fragile and that’s what makes the character beautiful and means she has a connection with the viewers.”

Producer Caroline Lassa describes Renoir as a “female Columbo” who uses her common sense and knowledge from raising four children to help solve cases that are often rooted in social issues facing France.

The cast of the show, which is currently in its fourth season and has already been confirmed for a fifth
The cast of the show, which is currently in its fourth season and has already been confirmed for a fifth

“Our scenes are 25% family life and the rest is crime,” says Lassa. “Usually we try to find crimes that can echo with Renoir’s family life, and she’s using things from her home life to solve the cases most of the time. We had an episode in which her son had to read Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo. As Renoir explains the book to her son, she understands that the case she is working on is about a woman living in real misery who is obliged to sell her body to get things for her children.

“It’s not easy to find stories with good social angles and we have to try to find a new one for each episode – which becomes complicated after 40 episodes. But at the beginning when the series started, Candice had not been working for 10 years and had been living in Singapore, so it was easy to analyse society through her eyes.”

Season four of Candice Renoir launched to record figures on May 6 when 4.7 million viewers tuned in to France 2, representing a 21% audience share.

And Lassa, whose previous credits include detective series Maigret, puts the show’s success firmly at the feet of Bois. “She is the reason why it’s so popular,” the producer explains. “She’s a very good actress. When she gave her first audition for the series, it was unbelievable. It was better than what we had written. There are good scripts, a wonderful actress and it’s set in a nice place.

“It’s never easy to produce a television series. In France, we could develop 100 stories but only produce one. But since the first season of Candice Renoir, we knew we had found something special. We also have a very good head writer, Solen Roy-Pagenault, so it was a meeting between this author and this character. I was lucky. We can go on for at least three more seasons.”

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CBS in transgender breakthrough

Katherine Heigl, pictured in State of Affairs
Katherine Heigl, pictured in State of Affairs

CBS’s new legal drama Doubt will star Katherine Heigl. But it is the casting of transgender actress Laverne Cox in the show that is capturing the headlines.

US network CBS has given a series order to Doubt, a legal drama starring Katherine Heigl as a smart and successful defence lawyer who begins to get romantically involved with her client, who may or may not be guilty of a brutal murder.

The show is significant because it also includes transgender actress Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) in the cast. Assuming Cox’s role is one that doesn’t propagate the usual stereotypes that surround transgender acting talent, it will be a major breakthrough for the community, which usually finds it difficult to get meaningful roles outside niche cable channels and streaming services.

Doubt’s selection seems to have killed off another show’s chances of progressing to a full series – at least for now. Drew, which is a contemporary take on the Nancy Drew books, was in the running for a series commission from CBS until Doubt was chosen ahead of it. There is a chance it will pop up at another network, though, as CBS Studios is still shopping it around.

ABC's The Catch
The Catch has been given a second chance by ABC

Another interesting CBS story, as predicted by the US press, is that superhero series Supergirl is moving to The CW for its second season. In doing so, production will relocate to Vancouver from LA.

The move makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons. Firstly, despite a very promising pilot episode, the show wasn’t really hitting the mark in the very exposed world of frontline network TV. Secondly, The CW (a 50/50 joint venture from CBS and Time Warner) already has a strong slate of superhero shows including Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, so it will be right at home.

The CBS announcements are part of a busy time of year for the US networks, which generally announce new series for their 2016/17 season in May. Another title in the news this week, for example, is NBC’s The Blacklist: Redemption, a spin-off from the well-established James Spader series The Blacklist.

NBC is a big fan of brand extensions, having also recently announced the launch of legal series Chicago Justice to go alongside scheduling stalwarts Chicago Fire, Chicago Med and Chicago PD.

Castle has reached it final season
Castle has reached it final season

A bolder move by NBC is the decision to take Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan’s time travel series Timeless from pilot to series. Bizarrely, that means there are now three time travel shows coming through the US networks system, with ABC’s Time After Time and Fox’s Making History also greenlit as series (and remember, we’ve also just seen Hulu’s 11.22.63 air in the US).

Of course, for every new show there’s usually a cancellation to free up space in the schedule. This week’s unlucky victim on NBC is The Mysteries of Laura, axed after two moderate seasons. Other cancellations include ABC’s Castle, which is coming to an end after eight seasons on air. Create by Andrew W Marlowe, the show focused on a best-selling mystery novelist and an NYPD homicide detective who solved crimes together. When it started it secured an audience of nine to 10 million an episode, but as it comes to a close it is in the five to six million range.

Supergirl is moving from CBS to The CW
Supergirl is moving from CBS to The CW

ABC has also cancelled Nashville, Agent Carter and The Muppets. One other show it might have cancelled on the basis of its season one ratings was Shonda Rhimes’ The Catch, but instead it has decided to give the show a second chance in 2016/17.

This isn’t a massive surprise given Rhimes’ fabulous contribution to the network – but it has to go down as a bit of a risk. ABC’s faith in Rhimes has, however, been further underlined with the decision to order another new series called Still Star-Crossed, described as a sequel to Romeo & Juliet. Interestingly, ABC also had the option of going forward with a Shondaland comedy called Toast, but decided to call it quits on that one after a pilot.

Another project in the news this week is Paradime. This one is interesting because it has been optioned from a novel that hasn’t even got to publication yet, showing just how competitive the market for book rights has become. The novel, by Alan Glynn, is a psychological thriller about a man who returns to New York after a spell in Afghanistan and becomes obsessed with a businessman.

French thriller The Disappearance (Disparue)
French thriller The Disappearance (Disparue)

The show is being developed by ITV and One-Two Punch Productions, with Glenn Gordon Caron (Medium) onboard to write and direct the series. The appeal of the project is partly down to Glynn’s track record. His previous novel, The Dark Fields, was turned into the movie Limitless in 2011 and then a TV series.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the latest French thriller to be causing a stir is The Disappearance (Disparue), which has been compared to UK hits like Broadchurch and The Missing.

The show has been rating well on France 2, with an audience in excess of five million, and has now been picked up for broadcast by BBC4 in the UK. The Disappearance, written by Marie Deshaires and Catherine Touzet, is set in Lyon and tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who goes missing. As the police investigate the disappearance, a number of people close to the girl’s family are discovered to have secrets of their own that they wish to keep concealed.

Newen's Candice Renoir went to NPO2 in the Netherlands
Newen’s Candice Renoir went to NPO2 in the Netherlands

Although Disparue is a French scripted series, it actually owes a fair amount to other parts of Europe. It is, for example, based on a Spanish series called Desaparecida that first aired in 2007/08. And it was directed by Franco-Swedish filmmaker Charlotte Brändström, who has worked on Scandinavian crime series like Wallander, thus adding a bit of Nordic Noir to the show’s DNA.

Still in France, Newen Distribution has sold its detective series Candice Renoir to Dutch public broadcaster NPO2. The show, which is one of the top-rated dramas on France 2, has previously been sold to ZDFneo in Germany, CBC in Canada, RTP2 in Portugal, Kanal 11 in Estonia and Fox Crime Italy, among other broadcasters.

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