Interview with Nadia Chevallard, Head of International Sales at Newen Connect, about Candice Renoir, which has been nominated for an Export Awards 2021 in the drama category.
TV France: How was Candice Renoir created?
Nadia Chevallard: Candice Renoir is the result of the shared wish of its producer Caroline Lassa and its commissioning broadcaster, France 2, to develop a new type of police procedural. One that is less technical and more oriented toward human investigation, a series featuring by a new type of heroine: not the usual female police officer, who is often somewhat stereotyped, but a luminous and slightly offbeat character whose intuition, common sense, humor and self-confidence help her in the situations she faces.
TV France: What are the show’s unique assets that make it such an international success?
Nadia Chevallard: Its heroine! Candice is fresh and has a lightness of touch – plus she is charming and funny. She may be a police officer, but she is first and foremost a woman that female viewers can identify with because she is capable of managing everything at once – her investigations, her children and, of course, her love affairs!
Candice’s strength – and its “DNA” – lies in the fact that in 2013 it was very innovative to put a female police character at the heart of a series and to create a long-lasting police procedural series that balances drama and comedy.
All the investigations start with a human and social angle; the crimes committed reflect society’s dysfunctions, and that is a rich seam in which to find topics like prostitution, medical trafficking, adultery, and dating apps dangers. There’s something very real about Candice Renoir – it has sincerity and authenticity that appeal to viewers.
The other unique feature of Candice Renoir is its filming location. The town of Sète on France’s south-eastern Mediterranean coast is a character in its own right. The production team chose it as a kind of French version of Miami, and after 10 seasons it has become a place where talents have developed and numerous technical and production jobs have been created, which has boosted employment in the region.
TV France: Cécile Bois plays Candice Renoir, and yet…
Nadia Chevallard: Yes, nearly 40 actresses auditioned for the role. When Cécile Bois came in to audition, she was the obvious choice for the role. She really understood Candice, who is far from the classic cold, blond female police officer. She understood the character’s range, what she represents, and the potential for humor and lightness.
And yet Cécile didn’t think she’d get the job! She had just given birth to her second child, and she was hesitant to film again, thinking that her body wasn’t like those of the female police officers we were seeing in series at the time. But she came to audition, realizing that we were looking for the profile of a police officer, but that it was more than that. She arrived carrying a big bag full of diapers, a bottle, baby food, and a breastfeeding bra, which she emptied out in front of everyone in order to reach her telephone. That little improvisation convinced both Caroline Lassa and FRTV that she was already Candice Renoir.
TV France: And French viewers love the show…
Nadia Chevallard: Candice Renoir now numbers 88 episodes and is an undeniable success for France 2. The Friday evening prime time slot gives the series huge visibility, and Candice has never let the viewers down, so average viewer figures have increased every season: from 4 million for the first season (16.7% audience share) to nearly 6 million for season 8 (22.2% audience share). That’s 46% growth between the launch in 2013 and today’s figures.
A real community of fans has grown around the series, and it is very active on social media – they can’t wait for each new season.
TV France: What kind of exposure has the series had internationally?
Nadia Chevallard: Candice Renoir is an international success and has real longevity. Time is the real measure of a show’s strength. Sales really took off for season 3, and we are obviously really proud and grateful for the trust and editorial confidence of our broadcast partners. Candice Renoir now airs in more than 80 countries, and last year we even had the pleasure of signing with Sony for Latin America and Brazil. We weren’t’ sure how viewers there would react to it. It’s a French series, and on that continent, American and local series really dominate programming. However, it’s been a big success, and this year Sony has signed for seasons 3, 4 and 5.
So, a big thank you to Disney Italy, RAI2 Italy, and Sony in Spain, Portugal, EEC and Latin America, as well as Disney/Fox in Russia; ZDF, Prosieben and Edel in Germany; NPO in the Netherlands; Paramount channel in Spain and Italy; RTP in Portugal; and Radio Canada and ACORN for English-speaking countries (US, UK, Australia and New Zealand). I thank them all for bringing Candice Renoir to their viewers.
TV France: What positioning does the series adopt?
Nadia Chevallard: Candice Renoir is a family series. Since the beginning, it has aired in the Friday evening prime time slot on France 2, which is a time when the whole family is often gathered in front of the TV. It brings families together as the plotlines showcase family topics. Candice is a divorced mother of three and has a life (that includes all the problems that come with motherhood) outside of the police station.
TV France: And I believe you have some excellent news to share…
Nadia Chevallard: I am delighted to announce that filming for season 10 has begun and the results will air in spring 2022!