Brent goes Gallic in 'The Office' relocation

It is enough to make David Brent choke on his instant onion soup. The Office, the hit comedy based at a Slough paper merchant, is to cross the Channel to French television.

Le Bureau, as the Gallic version of the sitcom will be called, is the first time that the antics of Brent, the self-deluded boss played by Ricky Gervais, has been translated into a foreign language.

Quite what a French audience will make of the cod philosophising of the comedy's lead character ("There may be no 'I' in team but there's a 'me' if you look hard enough") is unclear. But the BBC said it was confident that the remake of such a quintessentially British comedy will strike a chord in France when it appears on the pay-TV channel Canal Plus in May.

The "mockumentary", which exploits the comic divide between an over-zealous boss and a monotonous workplace in the style of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, has already spawned an American version, which is running to a third series - one more than the British original - and won a Golden Globe.

A spokesman for BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the corporation, said: "This is the first time that the scripts have been translated into a foreign language but we are confident it will work. We not talking about a literal translation - we had a team who went over to France to work with the French scriptwriters to produce something that will work with a French audience. Ricky Gervais has also been involved."

The French version also locates its cast at a paper merchants in a less-than-dynamic provincial town. Instead of Slough, Le Bureau will be set in Villepinte, a town north of Paris once known for producing beetroot and home to one of France's largest business parks. The David Brent character becomes Gilles Triquet, played by the veteran film and television actor François Berléand. Canal Plus, which will broadcast the sitcom in a prime time evening slot, said it had tried to keep the "spirit" of the scripts written by Gervais and Stephen Merchant. A spokeswoman said: "The scripts have been Gallicised for a French audience - but the beauty of the original was that it played on universal values, the workplace and what happens around the coffee machine."

The Office, first broadcast in 2001, is already the corporation's most successful comedy export, with 80 countries buying rights to screen dubbed versions. Gervais, who has earned an estimated £6.5m from the show, is currently writing a new episode for the third series of the US version.

Brent-lais

If at first you don't succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.

Si vous réussissez pas au premier essai, effacez les preuves que vous avez jamais essayé.

Remember that age and treachery will always triumph over youth and ability.

N'oublierez jamais que l'age et la perfidité triompheront toujours sur la jeunesse et l'aptitude.

If you're gonna be late, then be late and not just two minutes - make it an hour and enjoy your breakfast.

Si tu dois être en retard, soit en retard et pas juste par deux minutes, prenez une heure et dejeunez bien!

Eagles may soar high, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

Peut-être que les aigles peuvent monter haut, mais les belettes ne seront jamais happés par des turbines d'avions.

Ele Walker

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