Christmas TV 2017 - Rowan Atkinson talks about his latest investigation as Chief Inspector Maigret, which will be shown on ITV on Christmas Eve

In Maigret in Monmartre, Rowan Atkinson’s fourth feature-length outing as Maigret, the Parisian detective is investigating the death of Arlette, a stripper at a club owned by married couple Fred and Rosa (Douglas Hodge and Lorraine Ashbourne).

TV Times joined Mr Bean and Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson on location in Budapest to find out exactly why his Maigret has a certain je ne sais quoi…

Rowan, how does Maigret react to being in this rather sleazy environment?

“He approaches it with a combination of caution and foreknowledge. This film is called Maigret in Montmartre, and Montmartre is the dodgier, sleazier side of 1955 Paris, so he’s very familiar with it really. The underworld or the dodgy world is his world. It’s not completely alien to him, as he’s a seasoned old codger! I think this is the best Maigret film yet.”

What can you tell us about the stripper, Arlette?

“She reflects Maigret creator Georges Simenon’s interest in a woman who is so completely alluring. Men find her completely irresistible. That’s what the story is about. Someone who, unsurprisingly given that power she has over men, gets into a lot of trouble. I think this is the best Maigret film yet.”

(MORE CHRISTMAS TV HERE!)

Is he affected by delving into this world of sex, drugs and crime?

“I think it does affect him. He feels the predicament of the people who he has to deal with. There is a sense that he is drawn to Arlette and her vulnerability. But that’s what’s interesting. Even with the really nasty people he comes across, he’s always seeking the goodness in them, rather than saying: ‘You’re a bad ’un, off to the guillotine!’”

This is one of ITV’s big Christmas dramas. Do you enjoy this time of year?

“I like the idea of a Christmas that starts on Christmas Day and ends, in fact by chance, on my birthday on the 6th of January. They are the 12 days of Christmas. It’s a good idea for Christmas to be a time of rest and a time when you are quiet and family-oriented.”

Maigret in Monmartre premieres on ITV at 8.30pm on Christmas Eve