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Spiral (TV series)

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Created byAlexandra Clert
Guy-Patrick Sainderichin
StarringCaroline Proust
Philippe Duclos
Audrey Fleurot
Thierry Godard
Fred Bianconi
Grégory Fitoussi
ComposerStéphane Zidi
Country of originFrance
Original languageFrench
No. of series8
No. of episodes86 (list of episodes)
Running time52 minutes
Original release
Release13 December 2005 (2005-12-13) –
5 October 2020 (2020-10-05)

Spiral (French: Engrenages, lit.'Gears', pronounced [ɑ̃ɡʁəˈnaʒ]) is a French television police procedural and legal drama series following the work and the private lives of Paris police officers and lawyers and judges at the Palais de Justice, Paris. It was created by Alexandra Clert for the TV production company Son et Lumière. The first series of eight episodes started broadcast on Canal+ in France in December 2005.[1]

The first 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 firm critical approval and a loyal audience of around 200,000. The second series, also eight episodes, was broadcast in France starting in May 2008, and in the UK on BBC Four starting in September 2009.[2] The third series consisted of 12 episodes and was shown from April 2011. The fourth series was broadcast in February 2013.[3][4][5] The fifth was broadcast in France in late 2014 and in the UK on BBC Four from January 2015. The sixth series was broadcast in 2017. The seventh series was broadcast in France in February 2019.[6] Series four, five, six, and seven each consisted of 12 episodes.[7][8]

The eighth and final series of ten episodes was broadcast on BBC Four in the UK during January 2021.

Spiral has been an export success, with sales to broadcasters in more than 70 countries including Australia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain 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] but is no longer available on the service.

Spiral has received wide-ranging critical acclaim throughout its run, and has been nominated for and won several awards.


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" (un 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]


Series 1 (2005–2006)[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 that may touch the people uncovering the truth about her. In the United Kingdom, series 1 was broadcast on BBC Four during May and June 2006, and repeated on BBC Four in 2009 in the lead-up to the broadcast of series 2.[11]

Series 2 (2008)[edit]

The story begins with a man burnt to death in the boot of a car on a housing estate.

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 Commissioner 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.

Series 4 (2012)[edit]

Police Captain Laure Berthaud and her lieutenants, Gilou and Tintin, investigate when, after his homemade bomb accidentally went off, a mortally wounded student is dumped by his accomplices in a Paris wood. 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14] Series 5 began airing on BBC Four in the UK on 10 January 2015.[7] The final two episodes were broadcast on 14 February 2015.[15]

Series 6 (2017)[edit]

The series was filmed from May to December 2016[16][17] and was broadcast in France on Canal+ from 18 September 2017[18] and in the UK on BBC Four from 30 December 2017 to 3 February 2018.[19][20]

Series 7 (2019)[edit]

Filming the twelve episodes began in January 2018 directed by Frédéric Jardin (episodes 1–6) and Jean-Philippe Amar (episodes 7–12). A double homicide in a Chinese restaurant in the 13th arrondissement leads to a wider story of money-laundering networks and governmental corruption. Broadcast commenced in France on 4 February 2019 on Canal+,[21] and in the UK on 12 October 2019 on BBC Four.[22]

Series 8 (2021)[edit]

This series has ten episodes. The examining magistrate Roban (Philippe Duclos) has retired. Lucie Bourdieu (Clara Bonnet) is less experienced and has strained relations with the police. Ali (Tewfik Jallab) takes a regular role. Scenes are set in the new Paris courts in the Batignolles district. Broadcast on BBC Four began in the UK on 2 January 2021.


  • Caroline Proust: Police Captain Laure Berthaud (Commandant – series 7). A skilled Paris criminal police officer who leads an investigative team from a territorial division (2nd DPJ), who break the rules more than French Police normally do. 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 prosecutor [fr] 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. Called Lemaire in Series 1. 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 (Captain – series 6). Sometimes referred to as Luc 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: as 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, 6 and 7)
  • Nicolas Briançon: Police Commissioner Herville, head of Captain Berthaud's division (seasons 4, 5), Seine-Saint-Denis Divisional Commissioner (season 6)
  • Louis-Do de Lencquesaing as Éric Edelman (season 5, 6, 7, 8)

Series 1[edit]

Series 2[edit]

  • Mehdi Nebbou: Mustapha Larbi, drug dealer
  • Samir Guesmi: Farouk Larbi, drug dealer
  • Reda Kateb: Aziz, rapper and gangster
  • 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, principal private secretary of the Minister of Justice

Series 3[edit]

Series 4[edit]

Series 5[edit]

Series 6[edit]

Series 7[edit]

Series 8[edit]


SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1813 December 2005 (2005-12-13)3 January 2006 (2006-01-03)
2812 May 2008 (2008-05-12)2 June 2008 (2008-06-02)
3123 May 2010 (2010-05-03)7 June 2010 (2010-06-07)
4123 September 2012 (2012-09-03)8 October 2012 (2012-10-08)
51210 November 2014 (2014-11-10)15 December 2014 (2014-12-15)
61230 December 2017 (2017-12-30)3 February 2018 (2018-02-03)
7124 February 2019 (2019-02-04)11 March 2019 (2019-03-11)
8107 September 2020 (2020-09-07)5 October 2020 (2020-10-05)

Reception and accolades[edit]

Spiral has received wide-ranging critical acclaim throughout its run, and has been nominated for and won several awards. It was 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.[citation needed]

Year Awards Category Recipient Result
2007 Globes de Cristal Award Best TV Movie / TV Series Alexandra Clert & Guy-Patrick Sainderichin Nominated
2015 International Emmy Awards Best Drama Series Engrenages (Spiral) Won

International broadcast[edit]

Country TV Network(s)
 Australia SBS
 Canada not available
 Denmark DR
 France Canal+
 Belgium RTBF
 Germany One
 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 Amazon Prime Video; Netflix; MHz Worldview
 Croatia HRT2
 Serbia RTV
 Slovenia Planet TV
 Portugal RTP 2 and AMC
 Spain AMC


  1. ^ "Spiral, season 1". IMDb. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  2. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (4 April 2007). "More European drama for BBC4". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  3. ^ "Spiral, season 3". IMDb. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  4. ^ Robinson, John (1 April 2011). "Will Spiral become your new favourite Saturday night Euro cop drama?". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  5. ^ Karen (27 March 2011). "BBC4 is spoiling us (aka the return of Spiral)". Euro Crime. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  6. ^ Pascal (19 January 2018). "Le tournage de la saison 7 d'Engrenages débute" [Season 7 of 'Engrenages' starts filming]. Le Blog: TV News (in French). Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Spiral, Series 5: Double Murder". BBC Four. 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  8. ^ Joyard, Olivier (27 January 2017). "Sur le tournage de la sixième saison d'"Engrenages"" [On the set of the sixth season of "Engrenages"]. Les Inrockuptibles (in French). Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  9. ^ Bunky Bunk (26 July 2012). "Engrenages (Spiral) – Netflix acquired the show". Spoiler TV. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Engrenages". Reverso French Dictionary. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Spiral, Series 1". BBC Four. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  12. ^ "BBC Four Schedule". BBC TV. 9 February 2013. Archived from the original on 16 March 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  13. ^ "Engrenages saison 5, en tournage dès le 2 décembre" ["Engrenages" Season 5, shooting from 2 December]. Canal+ (in French). 29 November 2013. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ "BBC4 Spiral episode guide". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  16. ^ "Engrenages : Le tournage de la saison 6 commence demain!" [Spiral: The filming of season 6 starts tomorrow!]. Canal+ (in French). 4 May 2016. Archived from the original on 13 May 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  17. ^ Bianconi, Fred (12 December 2016). "Dernier plan... Engrenages Saison 6, it's over ! 7 mai - 12 dec 2016" [Last shot ... Engrenages Season 6, it's over! 7 May - 12 December 2016]. Retrieved 15 September 2017 – via Facebook.
  18. ^ "Engrenages : Nouvelle Enquête le 18 septembre sur Canal+" [Engrenages: New Investigation from 18 September on Canal+]. Canal+ (in French). 29 August 2017. Archived from the original on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  19. ^ "Spiral, series 6, episodes 1 & 2". BBC Four. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  20. ^ "Spiral, series 6, episodes 11 & 12". BBC Four. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Engrenages – saison 7". myCANAL (in French). Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Spiral, series 7, episode 1". BBC Four. Retrieved 15 October 2019.

External links[edit]