Spiral (TV series)

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Created by Alexandra Clert
Guy-Patrick Sainderichin
Starring Caroline Proust
Grégory Fitoussi
Philippe Duclos
Fred Bianconi
Thierry Godard
Audrey Fleurot
Composer(s) Stéphane Zidi
Country of origin France
Original language(s) French
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 52 (list of episodes)
Running time 52 minutes
Original network Canal+
Original release 13 December 2005 (2005-12-13) – Present
External links
Website engrenages.canalplus.fr

Spiral (French: Engrenages, pronounced: [ɑ̃ɡʁəˈnaʒ]) is a French television police and legal drama series set in Paris. The show follows the lives and work of Paris police officers and the lawyers and judges who work at the Palais de Justice. It was created by Alexandra Clert for the TV production company Son et Lumière.

The first series of eight-episodes started on Canal+ in France on 13 December 2005.[1] The series was shown in the UK on BBC Four during the summer of 2006. It was the channel's first French-language drama series, attracting a modest but loyal audience (around 200,000) and firm critical approval. On 13 September 2009, BBC Four started showing the second series: another eight-part series, partly funded by the BBC, was broadcast from 12 May 2008.[2] The third series was shown from 2 April 2011, and the fourth series from 9 February 2013, both consisting of twelve episodes.[3][4][5] Series 5 was filmed in 2013 and broadcast in France in late 2014, and in the UK on BBC Four from 10 January 2015. A sixth series was filmed between mid-2016 and early 2017.[6][7][8]

Spiral has been an export success, with sales to broadcasters in more than 70 countries including, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In Australia, the first series was broadcast in 2008 on SBS One, the second series on SBS Two from September 2009 and the third series on SBS Two from mid-2012. Spiral debuted in North America via Netflix in September 2012.[9] All five seasons are currently available on Hulu.

Spiral has received wide-ranging critical acclaim throughout its run, and has been nominated and won several awards. It has been nominated at the Globes de Cristal Awards four times, winning once. It was also nominated for Best Drama at the BAFTA Awards, and it won the 2015 International Emmy Award for Best Series.


The original French title is Engrenages. This word carries various meanings in French. Although it literally translates as either "gears" or "gearing", it is also used in various idioms and the official translation of the title picks up the phrase "a spiral of violence" (engrenage de violence), though it also carries overtones of "getting caught up in the works" (mettre un doigt dans l'engrenage), "getting some grit in the works" (un grain de sable dans l'engrenage) and even "the cycle of drug abuse" (l'engrenage de la drogue), or "gearing" in the sense of "intensification".[10]

Production staff[edit]


The series describes the day-to-day work and life of six employees of the judicial system: a police captain and her two lieutenants, a judge, a prosecutor and a lawyer.

Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 8 December 13, 2005 (2005-12-13) January 3, 2006 (2006-01-03)
2 8 May 12, 2008 (2008-05-12) June 2, 2008 (2008-06-02)
3 12 May 3, 2010 (2010-05-03) June 7, 2010 (2010-06-07)
4 12 September 3, 2012 (2012-09-03) October 8, 2012 (2012-10-08)
5 12 November 10, 2014 (2014-11-10) December 15, 2014 (2014-12-15)

Series 1 (2005–06)[edit]

The body of a young Romanian woman is discovered on a Parisian rubbish dump; her face eradicated. As her identity and past life are gradually revealed by the investigating French justice system, it becomes apparent that her story ties to a network of corruption which may touch the people uncovering the truth about her. Series 1 was broadcast on BBC Four during April and May 2009.[11]

Series 2 (2008)[edit]

The story begins with a man burnt to death in the boot of a car on a housing estate. BBC Four showed the series in November and December 2009.[12]

Series 3 (2010)[edit]

When the mutilated body of a young woman is found on a disused railway track in the North of Paris, near La Villette, Captain Laure Berthaud takes the opportunity to restore her image after her involvement in the death of Mustapha Larbi. She quickly thinks the murderer could be a serial killer, and her intuition is confirmed a few days later by the disappearance of a second young woman with the same physical appearance in the same neighbourhood. Time is running out to avoid new victims but the investigation goes badly: Berthaud and her men make mistakes, losing the confidence of their hierarchy, whilst newspaper articles on the so-called "Butcher of la Villette" increase. Moreover, the prestigious Criminal Brigade, led by Commissionner Vincent Brémont, Berthaud's former supervisor when she was a young police intern, now wants to get back the case.

In the meantime at the Palais de Justice, while investigating an ordinary case of a child attacked by a dog in the wealthy suburb of Villedieu, Judge Roban discovers that the mayor might be involved in a bribery scandal. Prosecutor Machard immediately asks Pierre Clément to use his friendship with the judge to spy on him discreetly, in order to prevent a political scandal: the mayor of Villedieu is a personal friend of the President of France. Upon Clément's refusal, Machard is determined to get rid of this uncooperative subordinate. Meanwhile Joséphine Karlsson and Szabo continue with their shady transactions. Subtitled "The Butcher of La Villette", the series was aired on BBC Four in April and May 2011.[13]

Series 4 (2012)[edit]

Police Captain Laure Berthaud and her lieutenants, Gilou and Tintin, investigate when a student is abandoned by his accomplices in a forest near Paris after being blown asunder by their homemade bomb. Lawyer Joséphine Karlsson is getting herself into dangerous waters defending undocumented immigrants; her colleague, Pierre Clément, surprisingly finds himself representing crime boss, Johnny Jorkal; while Judge Roban returns to the Palais de Justice, sidelined and on the warpath.

As the story unfolds to reveal a group of extremists intent on waging a war against the Parisian Gendarmerie and a dangerous arms trafficking operation, the police and the lawyers begin to turn on each other. Tintin is slightly grazed in the head by a bullet during a raid, is in a coma for a short period and later suffers from PTSD. Roban releases a man accused of rape because Roban believes the man was the victim of a plot to falsely accuse him; one alleged victim of the rapist commits suicide as a result of the release.

Series 4, consisting of 12 episodes, was shot between 22 August and 9 December 2011 and between January and April 2012. It was broadcast in France on Canal+ from 3 September to 8 October 2012. BBC Four screened the series, subtitled "State of Terror," in its Saturday primetime foreign language drama slot from 9 February 2013 with two hour-long episodes a week, broadcast one after the other on Saturday nights.[14]

Series 5 (2014)[edit]

The filming of Season 5 of "Spiral" began on 2 December 2013, and lasted about eight months, producing twelve 52-minute episodes.[15] The series was premièred on Canal+ in France on 10 November 2014, with two episodes shown each evening, though those with a subscription to the on-demand service had access to all twelve episodes at once.[16] Series 5 began airing on BBC Four in the UK on 10 January 2015.[17] The final two episodes were broadcast on 14 February 2015.[18]

Series 6 (2017)[edit]

Filming began in Paris on 5 May 2016 and is expected to continue for seven months.[19]


  • Caroline Proust: Police Captain Laure Berthaud. A skilled Paris criminal police officer who leads an investigative team from a territorial division (2nd DPJ), she is known for her energy and tenacity but also for her tough and sometimes borderline methods. Devoted to her work, she is very attached to her men and would do anything to protect them when they make a mistake. Her private life is a mess and she seems unable to build a lasting relationship.
  • Grégory Fitoussi: Assistant Prosecutor Pierre Clément. A young magistrate with a promising career, he believes in his profession and in the integrity of justice. But his success and his righteousness provoke the hostility of his superior, Republic Prosecutor Machard.
  • Philippe Duclos: Judge François Roban. An experienced investigating magistrate (juge d'instruction), solitary and hardworking, he knows all the tricks of his trade. Often reproached for his coldness and even cruelty with suspects and witnesses, he attaches a lot of importance to his independence from the executive powers.
  • Thierry Godard: Police Lieutenant Gilles "Gilou" Escoffier. Berthaud's long-time team member. With methods as borderline as his captain's, they often cover each other to escape disciplinary inquiries. Having difficulties enduring the toughness of his work, he has experienced drug abuse.
  • Fred Bianconi: Police Lieutenant Frédéric "Tintin" Fromentin. Responsible and reasonable, good in proceedings, he is the stable element of Berthaud's group. He generally disapproves of his colleagues' methods and therefore is often torn between straying into illegality and betraying his friends.
  • Audrey Fleurot: Lawyer Joséphine Karlsson. A clever and highly cynical young lawyer, she is extremely ambitious and always looking for cases that will earn her a maximum of fame and money. She does not hesitate to cross or double-cross to get what she wants.
  • Elisabeth Macocco: Marianne, Judge Roban's court clerk (seasons 3, 4, 5)
  • Dominique Daguier: Republic Prosecutor Machard (seasons 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Alban Casterman: Judge Wagner (seasons 2, 3, 4)
  • Stéphan Wojtowicz: Police Commissioner Aubert, head of Captain Berthaud's division (seasons 2, 3)
  • Daniel Duval: Szabo, controversial lawyer and Karlsson's associate (seasons 2, 3)
  • Bruno Debrandt: Police Commissioner Vincent Brémont, director of the Criminal Brigade (seasons 3, 4, 5)
  • Nicolas Briançon: Police Commissioner Herville, head of Captain Berthaud's division (seasons 4, 5)

Series 1[edit]

Series 2[edit]

    • Mehdi Nebbou: Mustapha Larbi, drug dealer
    • Samir Guesmi: Farouk Larbi, drug dealer
    • Reda Kateb: Aziz, rapper
    • Swann Arlaud: Steph, young police officer intern in Captain Berthaud's group
    • Samir Boitard: Police Lieutenant Samy Aroune, specialized in undercover operations (he returns in series 4)
    • Michel Bompoil: Robert Bréan, Principle private secretary of the Minister of Justice

Series 3[edit]

Series 4[edit]


Year Awards Category Recipient Result
2007 Globes de Cristal Award Best TV Movie / TV Series Alexandra Clert & Guy-Patrick Sainderichin Nominated

International broadcasts[edit]

Country TV Network(s)
 Australia SBS
 Canada Netflix
 France Canal+
 Belgium RTBF
 Germany Einsfestival
 Iran GEM TV
 Ireland Netflix
 Italy Fox Crime
 Japan AXN Mystery
 Mexico Once TV
 Norway NRK
  Switzerland SF1 and TSR1
 United Kingdom BBC Four
 United States Netflix; MHz Worldview
 Croatia HRT2
 Serbia RTV
 Slovenia Planet TV
 Portugal RTP 2


  1. ^ IMDB: "Spiral, season 1" retrieved 18 April 2011
  2. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (4 April 2007). "More European drama for BBC4". London: MediaGuardian. Retrieved 14 April 2007. 
  3. ^ IMDB: "Spiral, season 3" Accessed 10 December 2009.
  4. ^ The Guardian 1 April 2011: "Will Spiral become your new favourite Saturday night Euro cop drama?" Retrieved 18 April 2011
  5. ^ Eurocrime blog 27 March 2011: "BBC4 is spoiling us (aka the return of Spiral)" Retrieved 18 April 2011
  6. ^ Engrenages connaîtra 3 saisons supplémentaires sur Canal
  7. ^ "Spiral, Series 5: Double Murder". BBC Four. 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Sur le tournage de la sixième saison d’"Engrenages" | Spoilers
  9. ^ Engrenages (Spiral) - Netflix acquired the show
  10. ^ Reverso French dictionary, retrieved 10 April 2013
  11. ^ Series 1, BBC website, undated.Retrieved: 9 February 2013.
  12. ^ Series 2, BBC website, undated.Retrieved: 9 February 2013.
  13. ^ Series 3: The Butcher of La Villette, BBC website, undated.Retrieved: 9 February 2013.
  14. ^ BBC Four Schedule, BBC website, 9 February 2013.Retrieved: 9 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Engrenages saison 5, en tournage dès le 2 décembre" ["Engrenages" Season 5, shooting from 2 December]. Canal+ (in French). 29 November 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Engrenages : la saison 5 disponible en intégralité dès son lancement" ["Engrenages": Season 5 available in full from launch]. programme-tv.net (in French). 21 October 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  17. ^ "Spiral, Series 5: Double Murder". BBC Four. 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  18. ^ "BBC4 Spiral episode guide". TheGuardian.com. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  19. ^ "Spiral: The filming of season 6 starts tomorrow!". 4 May 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 

External links[edit]