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Spiral - a cop drama that's not for the faint-hearted


JANE BARKER on Spiral, current series on BBC 4, earlier series on BBC iPlayer (French with subtitles).

I became totally addicted to Spiral, the French police drama, when series 7 hit the TV screens in 2019. Bingeing on series 5 and 6 helped me get to grips with the complexities of the storylines and the workings of the tough police team led by the woman Captain Laure (pictured above).

Sadly the earlier episodes were then no longer available on iPlayer so there were big gaps in my background knowledge.

Imagine my delight when the good old Beeb started streaming from series 1 prior to the release of series 8 in early January.

I was in seventh heaven! The story lines are gritty and topical and explore the sides of Paris that holidaymaking Brits seldom, if ever, see. It is a dark and unsettling drama. And it is totally gripping.

The casting is great, the acting is brilliant and the storylines and plots have a true relevance for 21st century life.

The show started back in 2005 and my goodness didn’t they all look so young. It started off as a low budget drama, filmed not in the tourist Paris but in the mean streets where locals live and work and struggle to get by.

And it's not for the faint-hearted. Some of the scenes are extremely graphic. The storylines are hard-hitting, tackling as they do some deep and dark corners of criminal behaviour: Modern slavery, drug and people trafficking, prostitution and corruption at all levels. Oh and not forgetting the most gruesome murder or two, or three.

The police team at the centre of all this, a woman Captain (Laure) and her two male sidekicks have to be tough to deal with all of this, and they are: Their techniques leave a lot to be desired. Interviewing suspects involves a lot of slapping and pushing and threatening. You certainly wouldn't want to fall foul of these cops.

Of course there is warmth there too as the team have to pull together to beat the gangsters and, often, the system they have to work within. There is grim humour too, and raw emotions are on show.

I’ve still got series 4 to go before I can allow myself to watch the final series, and I can’t wait to meet my old friends again. But I would recommend you start from the beginning. It really does help...if you can bear it!