La Marée et ses Secrets
La Marée et ses Secrets is a French-language BBC schools TV series from the 1980s and 1990s, covering French Language for secondary school pupils.
A contemporary thriller serial set amongst the treacherous oyster-beds of northern France, in which holidaying teenagers uncover criminal activity and deadly secrets. The serial is completely in French and features only French characters, to give viewers both the clear and authentic sound of spoken French and a taste of an interesting part of French culture.
It had been almost 20 years since the BBC last made a French-language serial for schools, 1968's La Chasse au Trésor. The motivation to return to a drama serial in the 1980s came from the tremendous success of Look and Read with schoolchildren and their teachers in supporting English and reading at primary level using exciting drama serials supported by reading books and worksheets. Look and Read's producers, writer and wider production team created a serial for early secondary pupils with similar support publications, entirely in French.
Two Parisian teenagers, Yves and Marie-Pierre, spend a holiday in the fishing town of Cancale in north-east France, staying with a couple of Yves' cousins and his grand-father Lucien Keravec.
Lucien takes them by boat to the isolated oyster-beds on which he makes his living, alongside Yves' cousin Alain. Lucien is keen to point out the dangers of the muddy surface and the fast-moving tide. They also meet Robert Lecoz, owner of the local supermarket and a former friend and oyster farming colleague of Lucien.
Yves and Marie-Pierre take a tour of the supermarket and there encounter an unpleasant young woman named Catherine, whom they had earlier spotted meeting secretly with Alain. Meanwhile Lecoz is preoccupied with specially-chauffeured deliveries of cauliflowers, a local speciality.
La Marée et ses Secrets (the title literally translates as The Tide and Its Secrets) was written, in English, by Christopher Russell - a Look and Read regular who had already scripted the serial Fair Ground! and would go on to provide Geordie Racer and other stories later in the 1980s. The script was then translated into French by Jane Cottave, a researcher working on other French-language programmes for the BBC Schools department.
The assistant producer for the story, Susan Paton, was an accomplished linguist who would go on to produce many notable foreign-language programmes for BBC Schools, including the magazine Quinze Minutes and the drama serial Le Café des Rêves. However the producer and director of the story, Look and Read maestro Sue Weeks, spoke barely a word of French. This was a significant problem since the story was shot entirely on location in France, with a cast of French natives and a technical crew to match. Ms Weeks undertook intensive training in the language, but the filming still required negotiated communication in both French and English!
The villain of the piece, Robert Lecoz, is the director of a new local supermarket near Cancale. Footage of the supermarket seen in the serial uses a store from the popular French chain E.Leclerc - though you never see the company name on screen, there is a huge painting of the distinctive circular 'L' logo on the wall. The production team sought permission to feature the E.Leclerc shops from the two brothers who ran the chain in real life - and they had no hesitation in agreeing wholeheartedly to their supermarkets being featured in the drama, even though they would be associated with the baddie. Nowadays, E.Leclerc is a major French corporation whose directors are unlikely to be contactable for such trivialities, nor agree to be seen as employers of baddies.
|1.||Chez Keravec||10 May 1984|
|2.||Les surprises||17 May 1984|
|3.||Une ombre du passé||24 May 1984|
|4.||Les choux-fleurs de Saint-Brieuc||7 Jun 1984|
|5.||La chasse à mort||14 Jun 1984|
|Starring||George Aubert as Lucien Keravec|
Jean Badin as Alain Keravec
|Written by||Christopher Russell|
|Music by||Roger Limb|
|Floor managers||Jane Redman|
|Production Assistant||Claire Smith|
|Assistant Producer||Susan Paton|
The pupils' pamphlet came in the form not of a reading book but a comic book, illustrated throughout in black & white by Patrick Williams and with exclusively French text.
ISBN 0 563 33257 3
The 16-page, A4 teachers' notes contain a synopsis and transcript of each episode, guide to the keywords and possible vocabulary difficulties that pupils will encounter, and a vivid introduction to Cancale and its oyster industry including an explanation of why the particular tidal mud is known as la vase rather than la boue which is "ordinary, everyday mud".
ISBN 0 563 33258 1
Illustrated pupils' worksheets, including a board game and a crossword, were distributed first as spirit duplicating masters and later as photocopy masters.
ISBN 0 563 35248 5
- Summer 1984: Thursdays, 9:33am
- Autumn 1984: Thursdays, 9:38am
- Spring 1985: Mondays, 11:23am
- Summer 1986: Wednesdays, 11:17am
- Autumn 1986: Thursdays, 9:35am
- Summer 1988: Tuesdays, 11:18am
- Spring 1991: Mondays, 9:05am
- Summer 1991: Tuesdays, 12:35pm, repeated Thursdays, 9:45am
- Summer 1992: Mondays, 11:20am, repeated Wednesdays 9:30am
- Summer 1993: Mondays, 10am, repeated Thursdays, 10am
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