TV

Leather jackets! Renaults! Constant humping! French drama Spiral has it all

Spiral’s brilliant and bloody – but with its charcteristic mix up chopped up bodies, swearing and casual daytime carnality, it's best saved for after le petit déjeuner.

There’s really nothing like a stylish French police thriller. Les flics corruptes! Les voiture chases in Renault vans through the banlieues of Paris! Le constant humping! (There is always humping, usually in the middle of the day when British people are occupying themselves by opening a bag of Quavers and reading the Daily Mail sidebar).

Caroline Proust as the "emotionally constipated" Laure Berthaud.

While Sarah Lancashire does her best to be a flawed, seen-it-all DI who has had her heart broken one too many times, my favourite female cops are Euro cops. Saga Norén, of course, nails the intensely unwashed look every time, while Sarah Lund and her jumpers come in a close second. But at the moment, my favourite leather-jacketed, emotionally constipated TV detective is Laure Berthaud in Spiral.

Otherwise known as Les Engrenages, Spiral has been around for years, spearheading the gruesome modern thriller trend of showing terrible violence, with bodies on slabs, bits cut off and nasty psycho pimps. So much so that I ditched it for a while. In fact, I think the last straw was when I went to France with my son, who was then four, and it was on TV at 9am, alongside jaunty adverts for Petits Filous yoghurt.

Machard the prosecutor is about as morally upright as a slowly deflating sex doll

To be honest, this series isn’t that much of a departure from the norm. There might still be some bin bag body parts and violence against women, but the characters are so brilliantly realised, you would go anywhere with them, even to a shady lock-up in the 256th arrondissement. I just finished watching it, and I’m pining for them already. I miss Laure, who has no concept of maternity leave and turns up in the same clothes every day. I miss her partner Gilou and his paunchy, shruggy, slightly repulsive bent copper-ness. I miss Tintin, the permanently disgruntled sidekick. Rebellious to the core, there’s no risk they won’t take and no backstreet they won’t drive down the wrong way. Then there’s the amazing cast of characters in the courtrooms – the cut-throat lawyer Joséphine Karlsson, the magistrate Judge Roban, who is becoming increasingly frail, and Machard the prosecutor, who is about as morally upright as a slowly deflating sex doll.

The script, by the brilliant writer Anne Landois, is an ambitious all-you-can-eat buffet of juicy interwoven subplots that are each as compelling as the main story. This sixth series has been dazzling, tense, funny, sad, frustrating, grim and packed to the gills with humping and stakeouts in Renault vans. The acting is insanely good and Paris has never looked so gritty. I can’t wait for series seven. If you can spare a few hours to see it, you really should. Having said that, I wouldn’t recommend watching it just after breakfast. Unless, of course, you’re French, and then you’ll probably do whatever the hell you want anyway. While wearing a leather jacket.

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