Agatha Christie, bell-bottoms, brightly colored turtle-necks and Disco! A new season, a new era, and three new investigators put Criminal Games by Agatha Christie’70s under the magnifying glass. France 2’s hit series is back this year, and viewers are delighted! Julia Schulte, International Sales Directors at France tv distribution and series producer, Sophie Revil (Escazal Films), take a look at the show’s success both at home in France and abroad. 

The interview

TV France: The third season of Criminal Games by Agatha Christie’70s has arrived on France 2 in style. And the public is still very keen!

Julia Schulte: The third season of Criminal Games by Agatha Christie’70s was launched on January 29 on France 2.We are thrilled that France Télévisions is continuing with this successful series, liberally adapted from the novels of Agatha Christie. This is a new and strong set-up with three sympathetic characters, set in the colorful 1970s.  We can already call it a success. The first two episodes are leading in terms of audience figures, well ahead of the competition and the normal figures for the fiction slot on France 2*. 5.7 million viewers for 24.6% audience share for the first episode, “Endless Night”, and 5.3 million viewers for 22.8% audience share for the second, “The Black Room”.

*Normal figures for the France 2 fiction slot for 2019-2020: 3.8 million viewers for an audience share of 17.1%.

TV France: The third season nearly didn’t get made. Why was that, and what made you continue the series in the end?

Sophie Revil: After making 27 films, the three actors from season 2 wanted to pursue other projects, and I was having trouble finding new stories for their characters. So we had taken the decision to stop making Criminal Games by Agatha Christie’70s. But France 2 did not agree. They thought it a pity to give up on such a great “brand”, so they asked Escazal what inspiration they needed in order to continue. I answered without hesitation: the 1970s! Because that was a completely crazy time. And the period allows for some really fun visual antics!

TV France: From the 1930s to the 1970s – we move through the 20th century alongside Agatha Christie. Why this adventure?

Sophie Revil: Agatha Christie is universal and timeless, that’s what makes her such a genius. She explores the depths of the human soul, family secrets, things that are hidden behind the mask of respectability – in a word, evil. That’s what makes it possible to set these stories in any period.

TV France: In addition to its success in France, Criminal Games by Agatha Christie’70s has also done well abroad.  It’s a global hit.  How many countries has it been sold in, and what have been the reactions to this French vision of the works of a great lady of English literature?

Julia Schulte: The Criminal Games collection has been sold in more than 80 countries across the globe. It has convinced buyers and the public everywhere from China to Spain, Germany to Australia; and all in very different positionings. It’s been sold to public TV networks, private channels, and subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms alike. It just shows that the way in which Escazal has adapted these stories from English literature, with a trio of sympathetic recurring characters, a humorous approach, and a slightly off-beat tone, all in a very well-defined period piece, has really caught on and works well. These things give the collection modernity and a universal appeal, allowing Agatha Christie to attract public of all ages and on every continent.

TV France: A new period, new fashions, a new team, a female police chief… this new season plays all its cards! What is your strategy for the launch of the new season?

Julia Schulte: We are confident that this new format will once again attract buyers and pull in an even more diverse viewership. Its modernity and its female lead transcend time periods and anchor the work firmly in 2021. And that’s a strong sales argument. We think this new configuration will both convince buyers who are already fans of the collection and, thanks to our launch events, draw in buyers from virgin territories. The humor and the sympathetic characters, two of the series’ strengths, are present in this new season – all with the added colors and extravagance of the 1970s!

Copyright @Caroline Dubois