Catherine (1986 TV series)

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Catherine (1986 TV series) cover.jpg
Genrehistoric series
Based onCatherine, il suffit d'un amour
by Juliette Benzoni
Screenplay byJuliette Benzoni & Jean Chatenet
Directed byMarion Sarraut
StarringClaudine Ancelot
Pierre-Marie Escourrou
Pascale Petit
Philippe Clay
Jean-François Poron
Gérard Chambre
Geneviève Casile
Dora Doll
Corinne Touzet
Music byRobert Viger
Country of originFrance
Original language(s)French
No. of episodes60
Producer(s)Henri Spade Catherine Jurquet production assistant
Running time26 minutes
Original networkAntenne 2
Original release19 March 1986

Catherine, il suffit d'un amour was a French television series produced by Antenne 2 in 1986, based on the Catherine novels written by best-selling French author Juliette Benzoni. The adaptation stayed more or less true to the original text of Juliette Benzoni's story about Catherine[1] and her adventures in France during the 15th century. The screenplay was written by Benzoni and Jean Chatenet, and directed by Marion Sarraut, who had already successfully directed another of Benzoni's best-selling novel series Marianne with Corinne Touzet in the leading role.


The story takes place at the time of the Hundred Years' War in France, during the Armagnac-Burgundian Civil War. John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, is locked in a bitter merciless struggle against the Armagnacs, supporters of the future King Charles VII. During the Parisian riots of 1413 Catherine Legoix, daughter of a goldsmith living on the Pont-au-Change, tries to save a young Armagnac knight, the sixteen year old Michel de Montsalvy who is condemned to be hanged for spitting at Duke John and calling him a traitor.

Catherine hides him in the family's cellar, but he and her father are murdered by a cousin, the wealthy butcher Thomas Legoix. Thirteen year old Catherine and her mother flee to Dijon to the home of her maternal uncle Mathieu Gautherin, a merchant and winegrower. They are accompanied by Sara the Black, a young gypsy who had previously hidden the fugitives in the cour des miracles house of the beggar Barnaby of the Cockleshell. The attempt to save Michel de Montsalvy changes her life forever. Years later, after growing up to be a golden haired violet eyed beauty, Catherine meets a wounded knight; the noble Arnaud de Montsalvy, one of Joan of Arc's captains, and Michel de Montsalvy's younger brother.

Catherine and Arnaud fall in love at first sight, but when Arnaud finds out that Catherine is related to the family who butchered his older brother, he tells her he does not kill her only because she is a woman. Her outstanding beauty attracts the attention of Duke Philip the Good who desires her and orders his treasurer Garin de Brazey to marry Catherine so she can be received at court, despite her low birth. As Catherine believes Arnaud is about to marry Isabelle de Sévérac, she becomes the mistress of the powerful Duke, and he showers her with titles, castles, jewellery, and servants. She becomes the most beloved favourite at his courts in Dijon and Bruges, where she meets important figures such as Flemish painter Jan van Eyck, Jean Lefèvre de Saint-Rémy, Gilles de Rais, Jacques Coeur, and Yolande d'Aragon After their four-year-old son Philippe de Brazey dies, she discovers Arnaud de Montsalvy never married. Never having been able to forget her hopeless passion for the proud knight, she travels to the beleaguered city of Orléans where Arnaud and the other captains of Joan of Arc are fighting against the English. During her stay in Orléans she meets Joan of Arc who saves her life, after Catherine has been condemned to death for treason and spying for the enemy.

The road to happiness for the heroine is arduous. She must undergo many adventures; men fall desperately in love with her, her life is in danger, she is hunted down like a criminal and condemned to die more than once, until finally she becomes the beloved wife of Arnaud de Montsalvy, Lord of the Châtaignerie in Auvergne and Captain in the service of King Charles VII.


Main characters[edit]

Supporting characters[edit]


The production was a co-production between Antenne 2 (succeeded by France 2) and SFP. The producer of the series was Henri Spade The success of the Marianne series which aired in 1983 justified the new project Catherine, il suffit d'un amour.

Conception and development[edit]

In the Press review 1983 for "Marianne, une étoile pour Napoléon" Benzoni writes "Thanks go to Marion Sarraut, director after my heart... provided with a heart, sensibility and talent, a great artistic sense and an astonishingly safe flair to choose interpreters". In the weekly magazine Tele star"I do not want a director other than Marion".[2] Marion Sarraut and Juliette Benzoni had a great admiration for each other. Benzoni and Jean Chatenet wrote the screenplay. Confidently she agreed in 1985 to the filming of Catherine, il suffit d'un amour.Two years of preparation by director Marion Sarraut - 200 actors - fifteen hundred costumes - 45 technicians - 130 horses. The horses were trained by Marion Luraschi, horse trainer and stuntman for French and international Cinema.


For the male leading role, Marion Sarraut said in an article 1985[3] that Pierre-Marie Escourrou did not correspond at first to the idea of the personality she had in mind - however after his audition she knew that she had found the perfect Arnaud de Montsalvy. The yet unknown young actress Claudine Ancelot was the perfect Catherine de Montsalvy.[citation needed] As a special bonus popular French actors were engaged to play cameo roles in Catherine. The cast was joined by Geneviève Casile of the Comédie-Française, Jean-François Poron, Philippe Clay and Pascale Petit, Dora Doll


The shooting of the Catherine TV series lasted 15 months.[citation needed] The indoor scenes were shot at the Buttes-Chaumont SFP studios in Paris.The outdoor scenes were filmed on location in Burgundy, Chaumont, Blois, the Auvergne, Château de Sully-sur-Loire, Villefranche-de-Conflent, and Le prieuré de Marcevol. The oldest quarters of the city at Castelnou in the Pyrenees served as Montsalvy, the home of Catherine and Arnaud. Scenes set at the Alhambra in Granada were shot at the castle of the Kings of Majorca in Perpignan.


The music was composed by Robert Viger (Editions des Alouettes),[4] who had already composed several soundtracks such as "Les amours romantiques"[5] -for a French TV series. Rober Viger composed already the TV soundtrack for the successful Marianne back in 1983. Juliette Benzoni's Marianne, une étoile pour Napoléon[citation needed] (six books) was the first of the novel series filmed for French television.

Who is Who[edit]

Catherine Legoix - daughter of goldsmith Gaucher and Jacquette Legoix. Tries to save Michel de Montsalvy, but he is killed by her uncle. Meets his brother Arnaud and falls in love with him at first sight. Marries Garin de Brazey and is "persuaded" by Duke Philippe to become his mistress. Beloved Lady of Montsalvy to her vassals. Is loved by many men, but her heart belongs only to one man.

Arnaud de Montsalvy - son of Isabelle and Amaury de Montsalvy and Captain in the service of King Charles VII. Falls in love with Catherine at first sight, but refuses to admit it, because he had sworn to kill every Legoix in revenge for the death of his older brother Michel. Joyfully accepts the truth, when he is told that Catherine tried to save his brother. Though he loves Catherine, his impulsive temper makes her suffer many times; when he is near death, he understands love and Catherine finally wins his heart.

Michel de Montsalvy - Arnaud's older brother, who is in the service of Louis de Guyenne. Catherine tries to save him from the Parisian mob by hiding him in her father's cellar. He is murdered by Catherine's uncle Thomas after a servant discovers him.

Dame Isabelle de Montsalvy - Comtesse de Montsalvy, widowed mother of Michel and Arnaud. At first, she dislikes Catherine, but after realizing how much the young woman suffers when Arnaud becomes ill, she accepts her and loves her like a daughter. Adores her grandson Michel, who reminds her of her elder son. Dies of a broken heart believing her son is a leper.

Michel de Montsalvy jr. - son of Catherine and Arnaud, who resembles his uncle Michel. Officially recognized as the Lord of Montsalvy at not quite 2 years old, when his father is thought not to be returning.

Sara - a Gypsy seized by Turks and sold to a Venetian merchant. She has the ability to see into the future. Meets Catherine in 1413 in Barnaby's house, and accompanies her to Burgundy. Becomes Catherine's maid, then her best friend. Now head of the household in the Château of Montsalvy. She is the only person Arnaud is afraid of.

Barnaby - one of Catherine's closest companions and good friend of Sara. Meets Catherine in Paris when she was a child; after her father's death he flees with her, her mother and Sara to Dijon/Burgundy. Helps her in several difficult situations, before leaving with Brother Etienne to become a monk. They meet for the last time years later and he dies to save Catherine.

Critical reception[edit]

On 19 March 1986, Catherine, il suffit d'un amour was proclaimed "the largest soap opera ever created in France". It was broadcast from 13:30 - 14:00 each afternoon during the week. Several critics praised the lavish scale of the production, comparing it to popular TV soaps Dynasty and Dallas. Newspaper Le Monde wrote "Un soap opera? Certes! Mais realise avec panache Il est patent que les acteurs s’y sont vraiment eclates. Et c’est contagieux... pourquoi pas?"[1] (A soap opera? Certainly! But with panache. It is clear that the actors really go for broke. And it's contagious…why not?)

Home Media[edit]

December 2007 the French book sales club France Loisirs released the series on DVD. The complete collection consists of 5 boxes with 10 CDs. For the covers of the DVD boxes they used images from the 1986 series. There were no English subtitles. No extras were included.


  1. ^ a b Woodrow, Alain (18 March 1986). "Il etait une fois" [Once upon a time]. Le Monde (in French). Paris.
  2. ^ Bovet, Henri (15 March 1986). ""Catherine" le XV siecle en feuilleton fleuve sur antenne 2" ["Catherine" the fifteenth century in serial drama on antenne 2]. Tele Star (in French). Paris.
  3. ^ Merle, Pierre (November 1985). "Catherine il suffit d'un amour: 24 hueres pour A2" [Catherine just a love: 24 hours for A2]. Télé Journal (in French). Paris.
  4. ^ Robert Viger, composer of Catherine tv-soundtrack
  5. ^ Les amours romantiques, Music by Robert Viger

External links[edit]