giovedì 22 marzo 2018


A fan's memories about his discovery of the English series 

I ricordi di un fan sulla sua scoperta della serie inglese 
Les souvenirs d'un fan à propos de sa découverte de la série anglaise 
When I was a 12-year-old boy I was overwhelmed by the Rupert Davies Maigret; that was in 1965. My parents had procured a TV set that year and in our neighbourhood not all families had TV yet; for many it remained a dream for a few months or years longer to get one. Some people planned with friends to watch an attractive TV program, so did I in the years before 1965, for example watching "Lassie" together with a school friend. 
At that time, 1965, in West Germany there were only but two TV channels: channel 1 and the very new one, channel 2. Ch2 had a hard job to compete with the already established Ch1, and at highest TV times, on Saturday nights, they often had to compete against an enormously high rated TV show, an "international" quiz game. That's why Ch2 bought 21 selected episodes of the British TV Maigret, which was known to be very popular in England. They dubbed the English voices and had to change the music, because, unfortunately, there was no separate soundtrack of the original music by Ron Grainer. They entrusted a young composer, Ernst August Quelle, to create a new Parisian title melody and new background music for "Maigret". And they chose the Berlin Actor Hans Wilhelm Hamacher to be Maigret's voice. 
The success of those crime shows in West Germany was really great, maybe even greater than in England. The quiz show of Ch1 had to be satisfied with only about half of the entire TV audience, and Ch2, which is called ZDF, decided to buy 31 more episodes of "Maigret", to complete the series. Rupert Davies as "Kommissar Maigret" was to become a TV star and well-known on the other side of the English Channel, too. 
As a young boy, the first time I saw Maigret striking a match on a rough wall in the opening credits, was in June 1965, on a Saturday at 9 pm. Usually at that time I was alreadin bed, but that night was an exception. My parents and I were watching the quiz on Ch1, and, a few minutes to nine, my father switched to ZDF. The announcer, Victoria Voncampe, was saying: "The following program is not appropriate for juveniles". "Have you heard? You must go to bed now, this is not for children!" my father said to me. But the crime show was already beginning and I a saw a mysterious scene and then a man with a hat, lightening his pipe in the darkness, accompanied by a melody that instantly caught me. But I had to go to bed, wondering what would come up that I was not supposed to see. 
Next day I asked my father. "There are some things for which it is better for children not to see them, for example violence. After having watched a violence scene in a crime show you won't be able to sleep well", he explained. And my mother added: "That Maigret program is a good-for-nothing, for adults neither! There they show precisely how to commit a break-in and how to kill people! It is simply awful!" "But there is the Chief Inspector, who will catch the villains, and he never fails," my father argued. "Not all episodes of that series are that bad, some of them are rather funny, and, sometimes, one can learn good things from them, too. When there is no presenter beforehand pronouncing a ban for young people, you may watch a whole episode from time to time." 
I was lucky. About half of those films actually did not have an announcer, and when there was Victoria, she didn't always send me to bed. 
The aspect ratio of those classic black-and-white TV Maigret shows was 4:3, but here for once we can see Rupert Davies surpassing that limit up to 16:9. That scene I took from the 10th minute of the episode "The Experts", to create the "Maigret Smoke gif". 

Berthold Deutschmann 


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