Twenty years after taking an acrimonious leave of his family and friends in order to join the Roman church, Monsignor Renard returns to his home village as parish priest. World War Two is well under way, and Nazi occupation is imminent. In addition to reassuring the locals, Renard must also attempt to repair his relationship with estranged brother Yves, who resents his sibling having escaped the responsibility of running the family business. Written by
This unsung series went almost unnoticed when first broadcast. Like Foyle's War, it stares right in the face of some of the unpalatable truths about WW2. It's a gem. Sadly only four episodes exist, I think.
French and British people on the Home Front didn't all behave stoically. There was more collaboration than Resistance in France and very little Resistance at all for the first two years. Monsignor Renard is set in The Forbidden Zone, in the fictional village of St Jos-sur-Mer, close to Calais and focuses entirely on the life of the village, rather than the war, which comes to an abrupt halt halfway through the first episode. The excellent portrayal of everyday life under occupation tops everything recent and contains some great performances from Thaw, Cheryl Campbell, Andrew McCulloch and a very classy crew of native German actors.
Unfortunately, it was just getting into its stride when the plug was pulled and John Thaw, who was never better, tragically passed away. But what there is, is good enough. If you felt short changed by Charlotte Gray, or even if you liked it, you'll enjoy this more.
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