Georges Simenon described his creation Jules Maigret, the gruff, pipe-smoking, Parisian police inspector, thus: "His build was plebeian. He was enormous and bony. Hard muscles stood out beneath his jacket… Above all, he had his very own way of planting himself in a spot… He was a solid block and everything had to break against it." Simenon could have been describing the French actor Bruno Crémer, who has died of cancer aged 80. Crémer, who played Maigret on French television in 54 episodes over 14 years (from 1991 to 2005), had hard acts to follow in Pierre Renoir, Jean Gabin and Jean Richard in France, but the role fitted him as perfectly as the hat and heavy overcoat he wore most of the time.
Maigret was the hero of 75 novels, 28 short stories, many films and endless TV series in numerous languages, including Japanese. In the two British series,