French former prime minister Edouard Philippe working on TV drama series

France’s former prime minister has revealed that he is currently preparing a fictional TV series about the highs and lows of political life.

Watching and listening - French former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in parliament.
Watching and listening - French former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in parliament. REUTERS/David Niviere

The drama will be based on Dans l’ombre (In the shadows), the novel Edouard Philippe co-wrote with his former political advisor Gilles Boyer in 2011.

Philippe told French magazine Le Point this week that he is working with a team of scriptwriters on an adaptation of the book.

It’s the story of the triumphs and low points of a primary election campaign as told by a special advisor who has devoted his life to trying to get his boss elected president.

“We are trying to write scenes about politics which won’t just be caricatures of that world," said the former prime minister. “Politics is exciting, tough and not always glorious – but neither is it something contemptible.”

The former prime minister declared that the series was “fiction” and that he hoped it would be enjoyable to watch.

Wait and see

Philippe himself was spokesperson for the favourite, Alain Juppé, in the 2016 primaries to select a candidate to represent the right wing Les Républicains party in France's 2017 presidential elections.

Juppé was beaten by François Fillon who looked set to win the presidential election until he sank amid allegations that he had created a fictitious job for his wife. Philippe withdrew from Fillon’s presidential campaign in 2017 in the wake of the damning accusations.

As Fillon crashed, Emmanuel Macron, who had been given little chance of success, built momentum with his newly-created movement “En Marche" -  and eventually stormed to success against the odds.

Discussing the events of 2017, Philippe told Le Point “if you invented what happened in the last French presidential elections, no one would believe it.”

In June François Fillon was sentenced to 5 years in prison. He has appealed against the verdict.

“Sometimes reality is richer and more complex than fiction,” observes Philippe. “That goes for political situations as well as people, with their contradictions and their fascinating loyalties, sometimes so faithful to ideas but not to people, or the other way round.”   

Philippe gives no clue as to which French actors might star in his series, saying simply “You’ll have to wait and see.”

Fan of The West Wing

The former prime minister, who has returned to his old job as Mayor of Le Havre, was no doubt influenced by one of his favourite TV series, The West Wing, about life in The White House, created by NBC in 1999.

He told French radio station France Culture in 2016 that, he was “addicted” to the series and had watched all 7 seasons four times, having discovered it later than most people.

The West Wing he felt, conveyed “the symbolic power of the president and also its considerable limits”.

Philippe himself left Matignon, the official residence of the French prime minister in early July. His popularity was among the highest of any prime minister on leaving office, with 50 percent of those polled in some surveys approving of the way he had steered the country through the outbreak of Covid-19 and the first lockdown.

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