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1 April 2009
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Spiral

What are your thoughts on the French crime thriller Spiral?

Send us your views using the form on the right and we will publish a selection below.

Spiral is available on DVD from French retailers, although it is not clear if this release carries subtitles. A second series of Spiral is in the pipeline and will be shown at some point on BBC Four.

Users who want to avoid discussions of the ending should avoid the section at the foot of the page.

Comments

Spiral - an excellent and involving series. As so many other viewers have indicated, anyone with an ounce of intelligence is sick of brainless American rubbish. Less is more.
Rod Stephenson, Brighton

I absolutely loved this series! I managed to catch it halfway through the first run, and kept an eye out for a rerun, so I could see it all again. It's cutting-edge stuff this, and so refreshing to see something different. Please, please - we must have the next series, and can we have it on BBC One or BBC Two, please? This is outstanding television!
Babs Fisher, Middlesex

I have just seen the repeat of this series on BBC Four on consecutive nights and am now very tired, but very glad I found it. Brilliant and so refreshing. So many red herrings and plot jumps - it was fab. As a devout 24 viewer I would have to say this runs close to that. Please show the second series on BBC4!
Gail Richens, Havant

Oui, oui, oui. Engrenages est magnifique! Glad to see that there are so many admirers out there who want more demanding fare than the usual American pap. As for the ending... haven't you heard of modernism, where loose ends are not tied up, so providing a 'satisfying narrative ending'? Or they could just have had an eye out for the next series!
Karen Nadin, Newark

Gripping cult viewing. Annoying style. Helter Skelter of every variety of deviation and cynical corruption. Great. Terrifying insight into the mechanics of the French legal structure. Silly cliff hanger ending of the politician in the poly bag. More world TV of this standard please.
Roger Long, Stroud

I found this gem by accident while flicking channels looking for something worth watching. Spiral has restored my faith in good TV drama. I was hooked even at the expense of losing precious sleep due to the late hour some of the episodes were broadcast. Would you please bring this excellent series into mainstream scheduling where it deserves to be instead of hiding it in the darker recesses of BBC Four.
Norman, Ashford

I enjoyed this immensely, having missed most of it first time around. I am a policemen and a Francophile, and was interested in how they showed the interplay between police and magistracy. However, if any female DCIs went around in skimpy vest tops (like Laure) in my force, they would be sent home! More French TV series please!
John McNab, Cowdenbeath

I'm so glad you repeated this excellent series. I cannot understand people who choose not to watch films/TV with subtitles as they're missing out on some great stuff. Lots of films coming out of America could do with subtitles anyway as the English spoken is mumbled and full of current American slang while the plots are either contrived or too clever for their own good. Here, you knew almost from the outset that Benoit was a bad lot, but it was the extent of his complicity and corruption which was slowly revealed. This was a breath of European sophistication with the police involved in some day to day ordinary crimes as well as the main drama. More please.
Tony Brown, Aberlady, East Lothian

I really enjoyed Spiral from start to finish. Please show the next series.
Lauren, Surrey

I am surprised Spiral has received such rave reviews. Some of the plot shifts and acting were dubious and some of the characterisations very clichéd. As for the washed-out colour palette - except for red - it's all been done before. Spiral is no better than some of the US (and occasional UK) series we see but perhaps the very positive response indicates how far the average standard of programming has fallen. Spiral may be a perfectly reasonable vin de table compared to the vinegar we are often served on TV but don't mistake it for a premier cru!
Steve Taylor, Codicote, Herts

The best thing I have seen in many, many years - TV or movie! Brilliantly written, directed and acted. Engrossing plot that grips from start to finish, reminiscent of an un-put-downable book. Can't wait for the next series. Any chance of another repeat while we wait?
Ken Bebe, Nantwich, Cheshire

Merci pour repeating Spiral. This sexy, refreshing, gritty drama has a smattering of everything. It makes a welcome change to watching America. More, s'il vous plait!
Claudine, Edinburgh

The best programme on TV for years, yet it was tucked away in a graveyard slot on BBC Four. At least I managed to find it the second time around. I remember that many years ago we were able to view classic French, Italian, Spanish, German and even Japanese non-dubbed movies on late night TV. They were far superior to the Hollywood rubbish of today. Please reinstate! Also, it'd be so good to see more non-US or British made TV. When I travel abroad I always watch the local TV, even the soaps, and it's always fascinating. Maybe the BBC programme buyers could investigate. Thanks.
Pat, London

I just want to say that if a second series is in the offing, it should be on BBC Two as I think this series deserves better treatment than being stuck away late at night on a minority channel. Make no mistake, I am a big fan of BBC Three and BBC Four, but I think the clear and positive response that Spiral has had here means that a larger audience will also want to see this, subtitles and all! Spiral has come as a breath of fresh air in a sea of derivative and, frankly dull television that seems to be everywhere at the moment. Looking forward to the end of this series and hopefully, without too long a gap, series two.
Tim Beaton, UK

I missed the original airing but am thoroughly enjoying this week's re-run. I appreciate the current French trend of taking tired US plot ideas and giving them a good Gallic twist. If you like this, watch Crimson Rivers with Jean Reno, 36 Quai des Orfèvres with Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu, the too short BlackJack series of TV movies and not forgetting The Nest or the first three Taxi films (I hate to say the forth goes a little too far!). Well done BBC Four, keep the good world cinema coming through.
Brian Woodward, Pershore

I thought some of the scenes were rather horrific but a lot of French films are quite violent these days, 13 for example. I was so glad I could watch this virtually all in one go as it had quite a few threads. I thought the acting was superb. Is all French TV this good? If so, more please.
Alan William Rowe, Nottingham

Please show the next series of Spiral as soon as possible as it is one of the only quality programmes on television at present. My husband and I are hooked and are desperate to watch more.
Paul & Sarah Lawrence, London

Fantastic! I was totally hooked from start to finish, but why not show it post watershed on BBC One or BBC Two, it makes a welcome change from some of the tat that passes for television at times. Are there any plans to show series two when it becomes available?
Graham Fellows, Warks

BBC Four: The second series is currently being made but we cannot yet confirm if it will be shown on BBC Four.

I am so glad to have caught up with this series with your recent block of repeats over four nights. I don't think I've seen anything so gruellingly rich since Cracker in the 1990s. The final episode was heartbreakingly bleak, with its multiple betrayals. I look forward to further quality European TV dramas.
Tom Walker, London

I hate subtitles, but I thought this was one of the best detective series I have ever seen on television. I will be watching again for the bits I missed.
Carla Johnson, Cranfield, Bedfordshire

I really enjoyed this French language series and the fact it was subtitled - I even got my boyfriend hooked, who usually hates subtitles! We enjoyed the storyline but we thought the last episode was a bit odd, as it seemed to finish by depicting everyone in a bad light (except M Le Procurator!).
Zoe Dearden, London

I, like many others, have enjoyed the French series Spiral. In case anyone is interested, the original French title is Engrenages, and the series will be available on DVD from the end of August - you can buy it from Amazon.fr or any other French retailer. Thank you BBC Four for showing this - here's to many more.
Patricia, Bristol

I have just returned from an Open University French Summer School, and many of the people I met there had been watching this series, as had I. Unfortunately, those who were in France last week missed the last episode if they were unable to record on digital. Those who hadn't seen it were very keen to watch it, but we had to tell them they were too late. It was a terrific police drama, the best I've seen in a long time. Why is there so little French drama on TV? There are loads of us out here learning French. Let's have some more. And can we buy a DVD?
Valerie Norris, Byfleet, Surrey

BBC Four: Spiral is likely to be repeated in August - keep an eye on the listings or sign up for our weekly newsletter.

This has been the best police drama I've seen in quite a number of years. It's much more gritty and graphic than any drama series from over the pond. Is there going to be another series and will the DVD be coming out soon? This series needs a post-9pm showing on BBC One. The performances from the entire cast are exceptional. If there is a new series, please bring it to our screens soon. And possibly another showing for this one!
Chris Ingham, Plymouth

BBC Four: Series 1 of Spiral is likely to get another showing on BBC Four in the future - keep an eye on the listings. A new series is currently being filmed.

Excellent: a really gripping production, from first to last. Particularly pleasing were the subtitles - in English, rather than American! I just hope there's more French TV to come.
Steven Broomfield, Southampton

I really enjoyed this French language series and the fact it was subtitled - I even got my boyfriend hooked, who usually hates subtitles! We enjoyed the storyline but we thought the last episode was a bit odd, as it seemed to finish by depicting everyone in a bad light (except M Le Procurator!).
Zoe Dearden, London

Good, I thought, an eight-part drama with a beginning, a middle and an end. No Americanised continuation... How wrong and disappointed I was. Guess I'll tune in next series, but why not end it and perhaps start another story?
Antony Duckels, Salisbury

Superb! I see that the plot has many a loose end, so assume series two is in hand. Please show it, so we can admire the Gallic shrugs and the gizmo-free pursuit of crime. Encore...
Sue Batstone, Brighton

Absolutely brilliant. After reading certain articles describing it to CSI I am please to see that it is nothing like it at all. It has its own take on depicting the crimes. It also presents the judicial system that France has extremely well. I can't wait for them to produce the second series!
Saima Ferdows, Winchester, Hampshire

Sunday nights will just not be the same when this marvellous series ends. The story is very exciting, the photography is brilliant and the acting top notch. The chemistry between the two leads Gregory Fitoussi and Caroline Proust is just electric. Gregory must be one of the sexiest actors to come on our screens for a very long time. Well done BBC Four, more series like this please.
Michael Meader, London

I have just watched the last episode, Brilliant, totally brilliant. I managed to get my mother hooked on Spiral too, even though she said she hates subtitles and will not watch programmes with them. Don't dub the show, it would look stupid. Plus the name Spiral works for me, even if it's not the perfect translation.
Gabrielle Dugdale, Peterborough, Cambs

As a barrister I was fascinated by the machinations of the French criminal justice system. I am sorry that some of the scenes upset other viewers but the reality the programme tried to convey warranted it I think. From experience it was not too far fetched in detail. I hope that series two is well advertised as I would hate to miss it.
M, Winchester

What a brilliant, cutting-edge series. Great last episode�although a bit gruesome. Please bring the new series soon and more foreign language programmes like this; it's quite hard hitting, but gripping!
Maria Waldron, Cardiff

A fantastic series that has combined a great storyline, pace, superb casting and camera work. Well done to BBC Four for showing it and I cannot wait for the new series to be aired.
Philip Dainesi, Gillingham, Kent

Will it be shown on BBC One or Two? Could it grab viewers from Big Brother and the celebrity horse-riding thing? 10/10 for a great series.
Bigfatdave, Nottingham

BBC Four: No plans for a repeat on BBC One or Two at the moment.

I just wanted to thank BBC Four for showing Spiral. It's been one of the best things I've seen on the Beeb so far this year - up there with Planet Earth, and Doctor Who. I hope that you guys decide to show the next series. Thanks for improving my French!
Roz, Farnborough

FABULOUS! It looks that there will be a second series as on Canal+ they call it 'series 1'. The BBC must show it!!!
Cris Shirley, Walton on Thames, Surrey

The series was one of the best I have seen on TV recently, in the best traditions of the French 'policier'. I very much hope that if there is a follow-on series, you will show it in due course. Anything similar from elsewhere will do in the meanwhile. I applaud your showing of a foreign-language serial and hope you will continue this new trend.
Richard Howarth, Richmond, Surrey

I thought this was an excellent series, with a great storyline, and marvellous acting. I hope BBC Four will show more television from Europe.
Norma Sacchetti, Leeds

Well done for showing a French series. Gritty, disturbing and well scripted and acted. A pleasant change from most of the dross on TV. More like it please!
Fiona Macfarlane, Perth, Scotland

The best programme on TV since Life on Mars and maybe since State of Play. On top of excellent writing, directing and acting, I can't complain that it includes some of the most ludicrously handsome performers I've seen in a long time, and all seemingly in permanent competition to see who can get the most Gallic shrugs into an episode.
P Stoakes, Glasgow

It's so interesting to see how different the French police and judicial system is. Also fascinating to see what is acceptable on French television. I would love to see more foreign dramas of this calibre which aren't American, for a change.
Zozi Goodman, London

Magnifique - what will I do when it's over? I read an interview with Grégory Fitoussi (Pierre) on a French website in which he says they are writing a new series so perhaps we will see it in the BBC Four schedules again. On the matter of the translation of the title - why translate it at all - Engrenages says it all. Machinations or the chain/gears are just not adequate and Spiral simply won't do.
Barbara Reck, London

I am very impressed with your screening of this French thriller. Perhaps I could recommend other French dramas such as Docteur Sylvestre.
Gerard Donaghy, Derry, N Ireland

When I first saw this advertised I wasn't sure but got hooked from the first episode. One little complaint though. Why don't you repeat it later the same night as you did the first episode? I missed Sunday's episode and have to wait until Wednesday before it's repeated.
Lauri, Hull

Great to see and hear something not in English - there seems to be less and less on television these days. Despite the police slang, the French is clear and I was (despite the gruesome autopsies) hoping to show this to sixth form students...until the dungeon cropped up! With regards to the English title, whilst cogs/gears/chain is a direct translation (and the meaning understood) "l'engrenage de la violence" can mean "spiral of violence" according to my dictionary.
Colin Quinton, London

I have found this riveting and have been following it assiduously. Sunday night will not be the same when it finishes, please let us have some more of these sort of French detective series. They are refreshingly different!
Loraine Calvert, Blackpool, Lancashire

There is so much going on and the twists and turns are great. I love the acting and the French way of doing things is so refreshingly upfront. It is also great to see a female lead who looks stressed and make-up free but still sexy! Unlike the CSI girls who are make-up perfect and blow-dried all the time!
Rebecca Taylor, London

It's a wonderful piece, but who on earth is responsible for the translation? It's far too formal; I mean, what copper says prostitute for 'pute'? They'd say whore or, going into full-on BillSpeak, tom. Don't get me started on the title of the show. Spiral? It's a cogwheel!
Brian Leyden, Belfast

Probably the best drama that's been on TV in years. The English title Spiral is a bit misleading, the French title 'Engrenages' meaning Chain, fits perfectly. Why they had to change it is beyond me.
Warren, Gringley on the Hill

Episode five lost its way. Good indictment of the machinations of the French judiciary system, and development of Roban's compassion. But it's the relationship between Benoit and the prosecutor that exasperates me, even though they've had a fight and Cl�ment's told him to stop lying. Disappointing for such a brilliant start. I think it's the over use of dramatic irony that bothers me most. I mean these are intelligent people; when are they going to wake up? And there are three more episodes to go. Not that I'll miss them, Spiral's still pretty compulsive viewing.
Dave Cook, Burgess Hill, Sussex

How anyone can say episode five 'lost its way'. It was the darkest yet, taking plot and characters to new levels of complexity (and note how this is reflected in the increase of personal violence inflicted on the characters). For me, though, this is Laure's episode, just as it's Laure's series. She is clearly troubled and under extreme pressure, and her flirtatious behaviour nearly ended in tragedy. What an outstanding actress Caroline Proust is.
Chris Rogers, Edgware

Properly noir and Caroline Proust is so gamine. Great focus on characters, their reactions, fears and lies.
Hugh Roberts, London

There isn't a single British or American crime drama that could touch Spiral. It's beautifully shot, cleverly written and brilliantly acted. It manages to be both shocking and understated, stylish and gritty without ever straying away from cynical realism - and the characters are as multi-layered as the plot. If this is representative of some of the European drama available - please, stop importing identikit formulaic American shows in which every episode rams a heavy-handed moral down the audience's throat and look more to Europe for quality drama in future. Oh, and my French has improved no end.
Joanne Sheppard, Salford

How about getting some of Roy Dupuis's French Canadian shows as well like Le Dernier Chapitre and M�moires Affectives?
Sandie Johnson, Venas, France

I love the way the series is photographed, the story is nicely gruesome and the characters are, well, very French! Only problem is, it is very wordy, so if you are depending on the subtitles you cannot glance away for even a second. However, much prefer that to dubbing.
Carole, Barnsley, South Yorkshire

Spiral is outstanding. The edginess of a US series like The Wire, but with politics, a realistic and jaundiced view of life, and a degree of complexity beyond most simplistic TV fodder. At last the BBC is making use of the rich range of French, German and Italian policier series.
John Howard, Leeds

Spiral is just getting better and better. The underplayed style of acting and of photography is stunning and makes it almost like a documentary - German TV has something similar in K11. I work in the English Criminal justice system, so this is fascinating for me. The real star is Caroline Proust as Laure: she is the centre and start of the show, a serious, quiet, determined young woman trying to prove herself and yet free-spirited enough to sleep with two men so far on one-night stands. I'd urge anyone to check out the Canal+ site - did you know the French title actually translates as gears, as in inter-meshing gears?
Chris Rogers, Edgware

This carries on a long tradition of French expertise in realistic 'flic' movies. Political chicanery and gruesome murders are a potent mix. I feel like an observer rather than a viewer. Please also show the magnificent 36 Quai Des Orfèvres.
Jim Mulholland, Glasgow

What a superb series, I wish it was on every night instead of having to wait another week for the next thrilling instalment. Another example of why the BBC is the best channel to watch.
Ken Hill, Port Talbot, West Glamorgan

I was channel-hopping when I found this programme. I only had to watch for two minutes and I was hooked. It has speed, a devious plot, good characters, bad characters, annoying characters, the lot. The pace and �lan remind me of The Bourne Identity.
Martin Holland, Horley

Yes, some proper French drama and left in the original dialogue thank goodness. It is typically French in its cinematography and refusal to shirk from a good gory plot. The characters are real and flawed almost all anti-heroes which makes the programme all the more enjoyable. I hope its success encourages the BBC to commission more drama from Europe, and please no dubbing!
Dom Kingsmill-Stocker, Loughborough

An engrossing watch, but I can't help feel the director was aided by the existing mystique of France channelled through mysteries and drama of old. Maybe suave-cum-pretentious. But it's still a good watch, much better than what the Americans have to offer (and the BBC since Jonathan Creek finished).
Mohammed Salha, Wembley

I was horrified you chose to show a child being used for sex! Was there any need? We were well aware he was a horrible man, with the current debate in the news I thought it thoughtless and shocking!
Diana Moss, Bath

I love this series. I wonder if Benoit is more guilty than he appears? I like him though and that's what makes the programme compelling. I like all the main characters in it, from the earnest public prosecutor through to the crusty old judge who can't accept that murder can go unpunished. Someone has to be guilty. When you watch this programme you find yourself nodding and saying 'good for you' toward a character on screen and then agreeing with the opposite side of the argument the next moment. In effect the characters' moral beliefs are very well presented and the matter of fact way casual brutality in justice and crime is presented is masterly. I created a forum for fans of Spiral to get together. http://s7.invisionfree.com/spiral/
Richard Lawrence, Worcester

This is a bit like CSI but with more directness and gore. Great programme.
Adrian Beckett, Walsall, West Midlands

This wipes the floor with all other programmes of its type (except possibly NYPD Blue, which is a bit different), but a question - why so coy about sex? This programme is as honest as it comes usually, with episode three alone containing a horrifically burnt corpse, graphic descriptions of gay sex and even a man eating his own shit, yet when ever anyone slips into bed, we never see the act, just the decorous outcome. I'm not saying we should, just pointing out how odd it is that a French drama of all things should seem to coy.
Chris Rogers, Edgware

Started watching by accident and wouldn't generally pick a subtitled programme but I'm hooked! Some of the issues covered and scenes of victims are more than a little close to the bone. But somehow the way this is written, filmed and acted you find yourself drawn into the investigation and as eager to find and prosecute the criminals as the characters themselves. By the way in reply to another comment, I think it's great that the sex scenes are coy - it's nicer to leave some things to the imagination, it's actually sexier, plus no need for any smut with all the other things going on to occupy our minds.
Ellie Cleet, Heysham, Lancashire

You are to be applauded for getting this excellent French serial on our screens. It is so different from the in-your-face and formulaic American fare and far more sophisticated than any of our home grown efforts. The casting is brilliant and the sense of conspiracy continually intriguing. It's also sexy and gives a true look at the corrupt upper echelons of French society.
Barry Hanson, London

I'm really enjoying this series. It is edgy and gripping, well-written and acted. However, once again, you ruin the whole atmosphere of an excellent thriller with split-screen end credits and a continuity announcement. Please, just on this one channel, stop patronising the viewers and cut out this infuriating practice.
John Allison, Chorley

A really good gritty police drama. The French producers have a knack of making the inter-personal relationships more realistic than we are normally used to seeing. It's these sub-plots that make this more than just another cop drama.
John Lumbard, Richmond, North Yorkshire

Superb, dark and brooding. The French appear to have learnt from the slick American cop shows (Law & Order and CSI) and possibly improved the recipe. I was hooked from the opening scene. Not quite Homicide standard yet but getting there.
Kit Lovejoy-Black, Higham, Warwickshire

Not only is this a cracking watch, but the subtitles mean I can practise my French at the same time. Constantly hearing English makes us lazy when it comes to learning other languages. BBC Four is not about larger audiences, it's more about engaging the mind and this series appears to do just that.
Matt Hart, Bedale, North Yorkshire

Absolutely fabulous first episode...what an inspired programme purchase by the BBC. Looking forward to the rest of the series - great for improving my French!
Maria Waldron, Cardiff

Very promising first episode. Felt a bit like Murder One in style. I'll be following the rest of the series for definite.
Chris Sherwood, Edinburgh

Great to have a programme in a foreign language, and to challenge my assumption that only the UK can make quality TV.
L Amos, York

A really good gritty police drama. The French producers have a knack of making the inter-personal relationships more realistic than we are normally used to seeing. It's these sub-plots that make this more than just another cop drama.
John Lumbard, Richmond, North Yorkshire

Just caught this, and I have to say that I am impressed. A very twisted plot (from what I have seen so far), interesting characters, and a very Gallic view on law, crime and conspiracy theories.
Harold, Hertfordshire

Good as BBC Four can be, if you're too cheap to bother to dub an eight-part production then don't expect to recruit a larger audience.
P Bettell, Orphir

Well done BBC Four, this is exactly what you are for - letting us see excellent TV that we wouldn't see anywhere else. Well done also for not dubbing this.
Steve Farr, Wellesbourne

Personally I prefer subtitles to dubbing, it's not always a question of money! An excellent first episode, I'll definitely be watching the rest of the series.
JH, Lancs

Don't dub your non-English screenings! Subtitles require concentration but the voice of the one performing the action, spoken in the language of the culture the story has emerged from, is central to the experience of something different.
Mark Haydon, Worthing

Comments on Spiral's ending

Fantastic series - well acted, well written and unlike a lot of series no neat tying up of loose ends. The ending was very good in that it highlighted how people respond to moral questions. I think the redhead lawyer figure was there as a contrast between the judge and public prosecutor. I do agree with Rose about her reasons for destroying the tape. Please buy series 2, or should that be series deux si'l vous plait?
Mark Donoghue, London

I too began watching Spiral quite by accident but remained riveted for the duration. A truly excellent series and thank God it was not dubbed. However, having read other comments concerning Spiral, am I the only one who could not comprehend why the beautiful red haired lawyer disposed of the evidence disclaiming rape? And please, whose head was in the bag or is an `'HD-ready' TV essential for this series?
Karen Coburn, Arundel

Enjoyed the series enormously, but haven't a clue about the final episode - so many loose ends. And why did Karlsson destroy the evidence that would clear her boss? Could not understand the motivation. If anyone can explain it all I would be grateful.
Dave Campion, Altrincham, Cheshire

What happened at the end? Who was in the plastic bag? Why did the red-haired lawyer destroy the evidence? When are we going to get more French series on BBC Four?
David Absalom, Ely, Cambridgeshire

Everything great until the last scene of the last episode. WHAT HAPPENED? Surely something was cut by mistake. There was no ending! Luckily I recorded it so I could see it all again and check. But I hadn't missed anything. There was no ending!
Rod Stuart, Portugal

Last episode deeply mysterious. I think Karlsson destroyed the video because she didn't think the mother was telling the truth - knowing she was dying she thought it would be better for her son to have one parent? I think the new body was just the introduction of a new plot theme. Roll on series 2.
Rose, London

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