Actor Tchéky Karyo, who played the investigator for both series of the BBC drama, has been hoping to see more of his character ever since The Missing season two ended almost two years ago.
“The guy, you know, went through so many stories; I’m sure there are so many things to say,” he said in 2016, adding that there could be many more cases for Baptiste to solve. “There was Hercule Poirot; today we have Julien Baptiste!”
Writing duo Harry and Jack Williams have also frequently said that they hoped to return to the character: “We love Tcheky, we love the character and we love the world and tone of it,” Jack Williams told RadioTimes.com in 2017.
In another interview they dubbed him the “French Yoda”, “a calm Gallic presence in the middle of the storm and the chaos”.
This new series will not be ‘The Missing series three’, but a new spin-off drama called, simply, Baptiste.
The title seems to make the Poirot comparison even more appropriate – but what could the new series be about?
The BBC revealed in a statement that it will open with Julien Baptiste and his wife taking a trip to Amsterdam. However, while there the city’s Chief of Police – an old girlfriend of Baptiste’s – asks him to help on a particularly tricky case.
Baptiste is rapidly embroiled in a case that looks beyond the beautiful streets, canals and houses of Amsterdam to the seamy underworld beneath
The synopsis is intriguing, but it doesn’t hint at how the new series will link with the original show, leaving fans with plenty of questions to ponder.
Will the new series reveal that the operation was a success, with Baptiste and his wife travelling to Amsterdam to celebrate? Or will it instead step back in time to focus on his life before the events of The Missing series two?
The final scene of The Missing series two showed detective Julien Baptiste preparing for surgery (BBC)
It might not be that simple: The Missing has often used multiple time periods to tell the story of its crimes, and the new series could employ the same device. As the synopsis reveals, Baptiste has history with the Amsterdam police chief – so how much of Baptiste’s past will we see on screen?
BBC drama controller Piers Wenger teases as much when he says, “This first series of Baptiste will allow us to discover more about Julien than ever before as he is parachuted into the centre of a shocking and wide-ranging crime story.”
The Dutch setting is also curious. Both series of The Missing have made the most of their European locations, from small French holiday town to German military base.
The BBC has said that filming for the new series will take place in Amsterdam and Belgium (the home of Hercule Poirot of course). Neither of these locations have featured in previous series of The Missing, but they certainly fit the tone created by writers Harry and Jack Williams.
However, both series of The Missing had a key British element too, exploring the anxieties of a family abroad caught up in frightening circumstances. Will the crime Baptiste investigates in the new series play on similar themes?
Finally there is the question of whether any other characters from The Missing will feature in the new series. Series one and two were standalone stories, with only very subtle references linking them together. Baptiste and his wife were the only characters to appear in both series, so the likelihood is we will once again be dealing with brand new characters.
However, if the series does follow on from the events of The Missing, Baptiste’s previous cases are likely to come up. After all, why else would an Amsterdam police chief get in touch unless she had heard of his remarkable crime solving skills?
Whatever the future holds for Julien Baptiste, it’s heartening to know that the BBC is not finished with its French detective. Vive Julien – long live Baptiste.
This article was originally published on 3 April 2018