“I hope people find the stories engaging. I think they will.
“I’m quite good at not doing very much on screen.”
Rowan Atkinson talking to me in Budapest last November while working on two major new TV films.
Maigret (ITV, 9pm Easter Monday) marks his debut in the role of the original television detective who set the benchmark for all who followed.
Adapted from the books by legendary author Georges Simenon.
The casting of the Blackadder and Mr Bean star as Chief Inspector Jules Maigret made headlines around the world when it was first announced last year.
It was fascinating to watch his transformation into the French detective during filming in the Hungarian capital.
Doubling for Paris in the 1950s because it looks far more like that city at that time than modern Paris does today.
Darkness had fallen on location at a former Budapest brewery when shooting wrapped for the day.
The moment for me to interview Rowan in his trailer for the ITV press pack / production notes.
He did not disappoint.
Neither did Lucy Cohu (Madame Maigret), Shaun Dingwall (Janvier) and Leo Staar (Lapointe).
Or executive producer John Simenon, the son of the author.
Maigret Sets A Trap is the first feature-length stand alone story, set in 1955.
To be followed later this year by Maigret’s Dead Man.
Both screenplays written by Stewart Harcourt, who was also responsible for the recent classic ITV film Churchill’s Secret.
With producer Jeremy Gwilt bringing the stories to the screen.
Ashley Pearce directing the first and Jon East the second.
I read the scripts for both Maigret films before flying out to Budapest.
And saw the beautifully filmed opening two-hour production at the London launch earlier this month.
This is top class television drama destined to intrigue and delight viewers across the globe as it weaves its magic on screen.
As John Simenon told me in Budapest: “Rowan Atkinson is probably going to be one of the truest Maigrets ever.
“Because he really expresses a unique sensitivity to others, an empathy that is so important.
“It’s about the human condition and what my father called ‘the naked man,’ separate from all the particularities of time, space and other circumstances.
“The core of what people are all about.”
Or as crime fiction specialist Jeff Park told BBC Radio Four’s Front Row programme last night:
“I think this has legs.”
You can read my interviews with Rowan Atkinson, John Simenon, Lucy Cohu, Shaun Dingwall and Leo Staar at the link below:
Scroll down for more production photos by Colin Hutton.