TELEVISION / Right of Reply

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The Independent Culture
Barry Hanson, executive producer of A Year in Provence, replies to the opening episode's adverse criticism: 'I take most offence about people saying it's patronising to the French; we went to great pains to avoid the idea that foreigners are funny. The programme has the kind of portrayal you very rarely get on TV: the French are authentic, in any part of rural France there are characters like that.

'There's the Inspector Morse thing. It's an easy knock to relate John Thaw to past parts, but this is what happens in TV, that people remember past characters played, especially in a first episode. In fact, I think his portrayal is extremely clever.

'Does the language barrier make them look stupid? I don't think so, it's a snobbish thing to expect them to speak better French. We actually accentuated the language barrier for comic effect. Likewise, Peter Mayle probably did know about the Mistral, but we deliberately made him not know for comic content and to explain the Mistral to the audience.

''Because of the attacks on the book, we expected a hyper-critical reaction; but it's certainly worth sticking around for, as there's much delight to come.'

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