But Rowan Atkinson, who stars as the French detective in ITV’s lavish drama tonight, says it took a lot to get him to don the trademark hat and pipe after seeing the script.
“I read it, thought about it for three months and then decided I didn’t want to do it,” explains the Blackadder and Mr Bean star.
“Not because I didn’t want to, but because I wasn’t sure I could do it.
“The odd thing about him is he’s not much of a character. He’s fairly bland. There isn’t a tremendous amount to get hold of.
“He’s just an ordinary guy doing a slightly extraordinary job in a quite unpleasant world.”
And joining the very long list of telly coppers was another stumbling block.
“The idea of playing a TV detective felt like a bit of a cliché,” admitted Rowan.
“But it’s not Morse and it’s not Midsomer Murders. The period helps and the setting and the tone of Simenon’s writing.
“Quite dark, quite seedy, quite sleazy.”
A sweltering summer in Paris in 1955, with the city gripped with fear as four women are murdered on the streets, is the backdrop for Maigret Sets A Trap.
A second adventure will follow later in the year.
Despite having such a well-known face, Rowan says he doesn’t hide away.
“I’ve lived with recognisability for several decades now,” he adds, admitting he often takes the tube and normality is the best approach.
“If you turned up to a building in a fleet of limos with nine bodyguards you’re going to attract more attention than if you don’t.”
Maigret, ITV, Monday, 8pm.
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