New raunchy historical drama Paris Police 1900

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Paris Police 1905 (BBC Four, 9pm & 9.55pm)

Turn-of-the-20th-century Paris was clearly a dangerous place.

In raunchy historical drama Paris Police 1900, we saw lowly but principled cop Antoine Jouin (Jérémie Laheurte) encounter all manner of corruption and exploitation in the French capital.

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As its title suggests, Paris Police 1905 is set a few years on, and will once again explore a twisted world of murder and lies in the City of Light.

The first series began with the exploits of two historical figures, the president of the republic, Félix Faure, and his mistress, Marguerite ‘Meg’ Steinheil. And this new run, which begins on Christmas Eve 1904, also follows a few real-life characters, mixed in with the fictional ones.

With the Paris police department – under the orders of Police Chief Lépine – setting out to clean prostitutes off the city’s streets, a man’s body is found in the Bois de Boulogne gardens.

Inspector Jouin is entrusted with the investigation, which leads him into an illicit world where pimps, blackmailers and crooked doctors are interlinked in a web of intrigue.

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In Paris Police 1905, we’re promised that we will learn even more about the life of Jouin, who was inspired by Louis-François Jouin, a policeman killed by Jules Bonnot in 1912.

Speaking to What to Watch, series creator Fabien Nury, who also wrote The Death of Stalin, explained why he used real-life historical figures as inspiration.

“We wanted to find interesting characters rather than invent them ourselves,” he said. “Jouin is a police officer who’s best known for things he did in 1910, 1912, but we don’t know many things about his life before then. So I was like ‘okay, let’s deal with this character when he was younger’”.

Laheurte returns as Jouin in this run, and the actor has revealed how he prepares for the leading role, especially when there’s a lack of source material to work with.

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“Obviously you don’t have access to any videos or recordings because they didn’t exist,” he says. “What I like, is you can look at pictures and it’s a snapshot, but you don’t know what happened before or after. So it’s already the beginning of the creative work of the actor, to imagine.

“I tried to attach myself to the story and be as sincere as you should, even though it’s a story set in the 1900s, I approached it in a very modern way because it was almost mirroring what we were living.”

Once again, Orphan Black star Évelyne Brochu returns as Marguerite Steinheil, a French woman known for her many love affairs with important men.

Although Marguerite and Jouin have not yet met, Nury has revealed that they will down the line.

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“I’m actually working on, and it’s a huge thing for me, to actually be working on their first scene together in season three. They have people in common like Lépine, but they still have not met!”

Adolphe Stenheil, Marthe Stenheil, Madame Japy and Meg SteinheilAdolphe Stenheil, Marthe Stenheil, Madame Japy and Meg Steinheil
Adolphe Stenheil, Marthe Stenheil, Madame Japy and Meg Steinheil

Other confirmed cast members include Marc Barbé back as Lépine, Eugénie Derouand as Jeanne Chauvin, and Alexandre Trocki as Commissaire Cochefert.

And although Paris is just as treacherous as it was five years before, viewers will be delighted to know that the city’s early art deco furnishings and beautiful vistas juxtaposed with its grubby tenements, still look as stunning.

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