The Bureau (TV series)

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The Bureau
Also known as Le Bureau des Légendes
Genre Spy fiction, Drama
Created by Éric Rochant
Written by Éric Rochant, Camille de Castelnau, Cécile Ducrocq, Emmanuel Bourdieu
Directed by Éric Rochant, Mathieu Demy, Laïla Marrakchi, Hélier Cisterne, Jean-Marc Moutout, Samuel Collardey
Country of origin France
Original language(s) French
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 30 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Production location(s)
Running time 52 - 59 minutes
Production company(s)
  • Federation Entertainment
  • TOP - The Oligarchs Productions
Distributor Federation Entertainment, Kino Lorber
Original network Canal+
Original release April 27, 2015 (2015-04-27) – present
External links
Production website

The Bureau (original title: Le Bureau des Légendes) is a French political thriller television series created by Éric Rochant and produced by Canal+, which revolves around the lives of agents of the DGSE (General Directorate of External Security), France's principal external security service. Originally aired in France from 27 April 2015, it was first launched in the US and Canada on iTunes on 1 June 2016 as part of a new international "Episodic Cinema" label, quickly reaching the Top Five.[1][2] In the United Kingdom, the series was released exclusively by Amazon Prime on 17 June 2016.[3][4]

The first season received positive reviews in both France and other countries, and won several awards. The second season has been universally acclaimed, and has even been seen by some as the best television ever produced in France.[5] The show was renewed for a third season and it began airing in France on 22 May 2017.[6] The show was renewed for a fourth season [7], with shooting scheduled to begin in September 2017.


The Bureau is based upon real accounts by former spies and inspired by contemporary events, and centres on the daily life and missions of agents within France's Directorate-General for External Security, its principal external security service. It focuses on the "Bureau of Legends", responsible for training and handling deep-cover agents (operating 'under legend') on long-term missions in areas with French interests, especially in North Africa and the Middle East. Living under false identities for years, these agents' missions are to identify and recruit good intelligence sources.

The series features intelligence officer Guillaume Debailly, codenamed "Malotru", who returns to Paris after six years undercover in Damascus. He has to face the challenge of reconnecting with his daughter, ex-wife, colleagues, and even his old self. But his return to 'normal life' proves difficult, especially when he discovers that Nadia, who was his love in Damascus, is now also in Paris. The first season follows his attempts to navigate the rules of life as a spy, and his increasingly tenuous position with Nadia.

The second season continues with the same themes, four months later, but also focuses on another character from the first season, Marina Loiseau. She is leaving for Tehran to work undercover as a specialist in seismology, in order to gather intelligence about Iran's nuclear weapons programme. Guillaume has been promoted to deputy director but also become a double agent on behalf of the CIA. He becomes increasingly desperate to resolve the situation with Nadia, which culminates in serious consequences for them both. Meanwhile, the DGSE has the challenge of a bloodthirsty French jihadist who is publicly taunting France.

Broadcasting history[edit]

The Bureau originally came to French television in 2015 on the premium network Canal+ with a ten-episode first season. This was the best performing new drama on the French premium pay net since Les Revenants in 2012.[8] It was therefore quickly renewed for a second season, broadcast in 2016, and further renewed for a third season in May 2016.[9]

In the United States and Canada, the series was first launched exclusively on iTunes where it remained in the Top Five most downloaded TV seasons for two weeks, with several episodes in the top 100 most downloaded and a 4.5/5 viewer rating.[10] In the United Kingdom, the series was released exclusively on Amazon Prime on 17 June 2016.[11][12] In Germany, it was sold to RTL Crime for broadcast in 2016.[8]

Main cast[edit]

  • Mathieu Kassovitz as Guillaume Debailly, codename "Malotru" (Lout). After six years undercover in Damascus, Syria, he returns to Paris but finds it difficult to re-adapt to a more normal life. When he learns that Nadia El Mansour, his lover in Damascus, is in Paris, he breaks the rules and renews their affair, returning to his false identity as Paul Lefebvre.
  • Sara Giraudeau as Marina Loiseau, codename "Phénomène" (Phenomenon), a young and brilliant seismologist who has been casted to become the next deep-cover agent. She is under intense training to prepare an infiltration of the Iranian nuclear industry.
  • Jean-Pierre Darroussin as Henri Duflot, Director of the Service of Clandestines, a unit within the DGSE also known as the Bureau of Legends.
  • Léa Drucker as Dr Laurène Balmes, a new recruit as a psychiatrist specialised in behavioural psychology. She assists the agents in manipulating their targets, but is also working as a double agent for the CIA.
  • Zineb Triki as Nadia El Mansour, a Syrian professor of history and Debailly's lover from Damascus. Their relationship and her role in seeking to resolve the Syrian conflict form the crux of the first season.
  • Gilles Cohen as Colonel Marc Lauré, codename "MAG" (acronym standing for "Moule à gaufres" or Waffle iron), Director of Intelligence and Henri Duflot's boss.
  • Florence Loiret-Caille as Marie-Jeanne Duthilleul, Debailly's handler, who becomes Loiseau's handler after Debailly's return from Syria. During season 3, she succeeds Henri Dulflot as head of the Bureau.
  • Jonathan Zaccaï as Raymond Sisteron, a colleague of Debailly.
  • Pauline Étienne as Céline Delorme, a regional expert on the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Jules Sagot as Simon Ellenstein, a DGSE agent specialised in electronic surveillance.
  • Mathieu Demy as Clément Migaud, head of the Iran service.
  • Alexandre Brasseur and Michaël Abiteboul as Pépé and Mémé (grandpa and grandma), two DGSE agents in charge of operational support (tailing, escort, logistics, intimidation).
Sara Giraudeau and Matthieu Kassovitz lead the main cast of "The Bureau"
  • Patrick Ligardes as Marcel Gaingouin, Director of Operations of the DGSE.
  • Stefan Godin as Pierre de Lattre de Tassigny, Director General of the DGSE.
  • Alba Gaïa Bellugi as Prune Debailly, the daughter of Guillaume Debailly.
  • Elodie Navarre as Emilie Duflot, the wife of Henri Duflot.
  • Artus as Jonas Maury
  • Jean-Marie Rollin as Edouard Rubin
  • Irina Muluile as The Mule, Daisy. Operational support in France (field surveillance, escort, logistics).


Critical reception[edit]

The programme was well received by audiences and the critics. In its domestic market, the first season received very positive reviews. Le Monde commented on its "mastery of its subject" and "rigorous construction of narrative arches" and lauded its "different and credible tone".[13] Le Nouvel Observateur compared it to Mad Men and congratulated it on "staging that exceptional routine with flair and breathing life into a convincing team of heroes".[14]

The second season was immensely popular. Télérama called it "captivating, subtly written, staged and acted: a mission accomplished" and Le Figaro stated that "to this day, this series is the best ever made in France".[5]

The New York Times described the series as a "moody, cynical & stylish ... consistently smart and understated".[15] Broadwayworld also wrote a positive review, describing it as a "a riveting spy story told with psychological sophistication and cinematic flair".[16]


Season 1[edit]

  • Séries Mania Festival 2015:[17]
  • French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award: Best Series [18]
  • French TV Critics Association Awards (A.C.S.): Best Actor for Mathieu Kassovitz (2015) [19]

Season 2[edit]


  1. ^ "French series The Bureau coming to iTunes". Retrieved June 1, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Canal+ greenlights new season of The Bureau". Rapid TV News. 
  3. ^ "The Bureau Season 1 on Amazon Prime UK". Retrieved June 17, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Amazon uncovers French spy drama". Retrieved June 17, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Le Bureau des légendes : espion, es-tu là ?" [Le Bureau des légendes: Spy, are you there?]. Le Figaro. May 4, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Le Bureau des légendes : la série d'espionnage de Canal+ renouvelée pour une saison 3" [Le Bureau des légendes: Canal+ spy series renewed for a third season]. La Chaîne Info. June 9, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Le Bureau des Légendes : une saison 4 et un remake américain !". Just Focus (in French). 2017-04-25. Retrieved 2018-01-11. 
  8. ^ a b "RTL buys Canal+ series The Bureau - TBI Vision". 22 September 2015. 
  9. ^ ""Le Bureau des Légendes": la saison 3 est en cours". 
  10. ^ "The Bureau, Season 1 (English Subtitles) on iTunes". 
  11. ^ "Watch The Bureau (English Subtitled) Season 1 Episode - Amazon Video". 
  12. ^ "Amazon uncovers French spy drama". 
  13. ^ "Le Bureau des Légendes – La face cachée des secrets" [Le Bureau des Légendes: The hidden side of secrets]. Le Monde. April 26, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Le Bureau des Légendes". Le Nouvel Observateur. April 27, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Occupied and The Bureau: Two Gripping European Thrillers". Retrieved June 8, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Award-winning French Series The Bureau to Debut Exclusively on iTunes". Retrieved June 8, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Prix de la presse internationale 2015 - Séries Mania". Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Rochant's 'The Bureau' Wins Best TV Series From French Cinema Critics". Retrieved February 3, 2016. 
  19. ^ a b "Association Critiques Séries". 
  20. ^ "2016 Awards Winners". Archived from the original on 2016-06-16. 

External links[edit]