Curtain’s up on final of Murder in Provence
Sunday: Murder in Provence - (ITV, 8pm)
There’s something about the southeastern region of France that has sunk its claws into the hearts of Brits and, every now and then, gives them a jolly good tug.
It happened most notably in 1989, when Peter Mayle’s wistful and hugely romantic memoir, A Year in Provence, hit bookshelves and sent the country crazy for all things Francais.
This crime drama, based on the books by ML Longworth, has prompted a similar reaction, so it might be worth stocking up on the croissants and Champagne as the curtain goes up on the third and final episode.
It explores how a love affair seems to be at the heart of a young woman’s death in the town of Eguilles, but is it also connected to the discovery of an older woman’s body in a vineyard kilometres away?
Antoine, Marine and Helen – played by Roger Allam, Nancy Carroll and Keala Settle – investigate the men in the two women’s lives to discover what was done to them and why.
While Roger Allam has garnered a lot of interest as the leading man, Murder in Provence has also provided a different furrow to plough for Tony Award-winner Keala Settle.
Fans of the novels may know Helene was based on a male character, a decision Keala was more than happy with.
“I really thought it was a fantastic take on it,” she said. “I give credit to Shelagh Stephenson for that decision, and obviously if she hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be part of this lovely show!”
The American actress, a regular on the boards of Broadway and who made a musical splash in The Greatest Showman, has never previously featured in a detective drama, but admitted: “this project has really helped me. I’m learning to understand what people are seeing in me and to not to be afraid of it or push it away.”
Keala may never have featured in a detective drama before but does watch them “incessantly”.
“I love them,” she said. “I’m one of those people – and there are lots of us – who sit watching these series, intent on figuring out the killer. I’ll be calling other people, or watching with a mate and pausing to go over the information and clues that have come up.”
Keala enthused: “I suppose if I wasn’t in the performing arts, I probably would have tried to go into forensics, I absolutely love that world. Actually, when I was reading the scripts for Murder in Provence, I mostly had no idea who the murderer was. I almost got my post it notes out and started putting them on the wall to figure out the mysteries.”
When it came to filming in France, she and the cast and crew certainly enjoyed themselves. “I felt so bad for the poor hotel because we literally drank all of their rose in the first week we were staying there,” she laughs. “They did restock the following week.
“We were all looking at holiday homes in Provence: me and Nancy were going past estate agents and looking in every window. Everything was so lovely and we were thinking, ‘what if we actually lived here?!’”