John Nettles open to Bergerac cameo as Island crosses its fingers for a new series
BERGERAC was axed as a primetime BBC series more than 27 years ago.
Despite this, detective sergeant Jim Bergerac remains one of Jersey’s most famous exports and the name Bergerac has become synonymous with the Island.
And with a remake in the works, the unorthodox States police officer could be set for a welcome return to the nation’s living rooms.
The original Bergerac series was so popular it ran for nine series on BBC between 1981 and 1991 and several holiday specials. It starred John Nettles in the title role working within the States police’s Bureau des Étrangers – a fictional department dealing with non-Jersey residents.
Paramount Network confirmed yesterday morning that it hoped to be able to commission a full series of the iconic 80s show.
The original Jim Bergerac
Anything that shows off Jersey’s scenery should be supported, John Nettles – the original star of Bergerac – has said, but ruled out reprising his iconic role, as he is ‘too old now’.
Mr Nettles said that he had been made aware of plans to reboot the series but that he did not know many of the details at this stage. However, he said he would be happy to appear in a new series – just not as Jim.
‘I’m too old now,’ he said. ‘I’m not the young, rogue detective of yesterday’s Bergerac. It is a young person’s series. I see Bergerac as a gift that was given to me by [original creator] Robert Banks Stewart.
‘I’d still be up for a smaller role. I might even try a Jersey accent this time.
‘I don’t have the leather jacket anymore anyway – someone nicked that years ago. And I don’t think the car goes anymore.’
Bergerac’s 1947 Triumph Roadster, which was a familiar sight in the show, was recently on display at the Jersey Museum as part of the 80s exhibition Bergerac’s Island.
Mr Nettles, who is also known for his role as Tom Barnaby in Midsomer Murders, added that Jersey’s natural beauty should be taken advantage of by TV and film crews and praised Jersey-born director Michael Pearce for using the Island as the backdrop to his 2018 film Beast.
‘Anything that will exploit the great filming scenery and quality of Jersey has to be supported. I would like to see a film in Jersey – there was a film recently called Beast which was excellent. I loved the way the director used the pretty parts of Jersey – I would like to see more of that.
‘I think it will be good to have a reboot – as long as the scripts are better,’ he joked.
Any new series of Bergerac would be ‘updated for the present day’ and could provide a ‘real boost’ for the Island. The series is being produced by Artist’s Studio in partnership with local production company Westward Studios. Emmy-award winning producer Gub Neal – best known for hit prime-time dramas such as Prime Suspect, Cracker and The Fall – is attached to the project.
Paramount Network have confirmed that the series is in the development stages as a potential future commission for its network channels outside the USA.
Mr Neal said: ‘We’ve been trying to bring back Bergerac for some time and I’m very glad that we have the next generation of such an iconic show in development. Updated for the present day, it will deal with contemporary stories-of-the-week that run alongside a strong serial spine.’
In 2013, it was revealed that the independent Artists Studio had secured the rights to Bergerac and was in the process of developing a new series featuring the investigator. However, the series never made it to air.
Now Paramount have made a reworked Bergerac one of its main projects, with the aim of bringing Jim – and Jersey – to screens across the UK.
Jill Offman, executive vice-president at Paramount Network, said: ‘We have several exciting dramas in development, one of which is the classic favourite Bergerac. Our hope is that we will be able to commission Bergerac as a full series for Paramount Network International.’
Scriptwriters are understood to have visited the Island to scope out potential locations.
Brian Constantine, chief executive of Westward Studios and executive producer, added: ‘I’m excited at the prospect that Bergerac may be returning to our screens once again. It’s a much-loved drama and a real boost for Jersey, my home, where Bergerac has become part of the island’s identity.’
A Bergerac revival would give a ‘new generation’ the chance to see and ‘fall in love’ with the Island, the chief executive of Visit Jersey has said.
The original series brought huge numbers of visitors to the Island – with the show’s main locations becoming tourist hotspots.
And Visit Jersey hope that a new series would provide a welcome boost to tourism figures, as it would help showcase the Island.
Keith Beecham, Visit Jersey chief executive, said: ‘The original Bergerac series was much loved near and far and inspired many to visit our beautiful island. We’re delighted that a new generation of people will be given the opportunity to fall in love with Bergerac and Jersey.’
Meanwhile, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham has said that despite the show still being in development, he was ‘excited’ about the project.
‘My department and Visit Jersey have been working closely with Westward Studios to help them realise their ambition of bringing this iconic show back to our screens,’ he said. ‘We hope the Island is as excited about this project as we are.’
Aubrey Williams: ‘The most important thing to remember in making this series is when you enter the Tunnel at Green St it has to come out at Corbière!’
Stuart Taylor: ‘Excellent news and just what the Island needs to give tourism a big boost. But with hotels closing at such a fast rate, will there be sufficient accommodation to cater for the influx of visitors? Could be a good time to invest in Island hospitality?’
Andy Jay: ‘They’ll find his former home in Queen’s Valley might be a little damp.’
Jen Sifneos: ‘I used to live across the road from The Forum cinema, as was, the original set for their indoor scenes. My mum, bless her, talked her way into a quick unofficial tour round!’
Eric Reynolds: ‘Well, at least Bergerac won’t have to jump in his car to get to the nearest phone box!’