The character of Etienne Winckler, who is played by Olivier Gourmet in “Sambre”, is inspired by a real police officer, Franck Martins, who worked for years on the arrest of Dino Scala.
In the last two episodes of Sambre, broadcast this Monday, November 27 from 9:10 p.m. on France 2, we meet Commander Etienne Winckler, a police officer at the head of the Lille Judicial Brigade, who will succeed, thanks to his work determined to get his hands on Enzo Salina and stop him once and for all.
As for the geomatician played by Clémence Poésy or the mayor played by Noémie Lvovsky, this key character in the investigation really existed but he is the polar opposite of the commander played by Olivier Gourmet.
Who is Frank Martins?
It was Franck Martins, retired from the national police for a year, who inspired this character in the mini-series Sambre. The police officer first heard about this attacker of women in 1996, when he was still a young recruit to the BRI (research and intervention brigade). His unit had in fact been requisitioned to carry out surveillance around factories in the sector.
It was only ten years later that Franck Martins, now head of the first Cold Case cell of the Lille criminal brigade, recovered this file which was then at an impasse.
With his team, he takes over all the investigations and begins by interviewing the victims. “When we heard them again, we saw hope reborn in them. This gave us a big responsibility. We were waking up a sleeping monster, it must not be in vain”remembered Franck Martins at the microphone of our colleagues at.
They then managed to establish a profile – it could be a handler – and DNA traces were found at the scene of certain attacks. Unfortunately, this is not enough to find Dino Scala.
A few years later, the cell was dissolved, but the commander kept this thorny file. It was in 2018, thanks to help from the Belgian police who recorded a new attack, that he finally managed to get his hands on Dino Scala, one morning in February 2018.
“In the series, I have the beautiful role,” he quipped to our colleagues before specifying: “But I didn’t stop Dino Scala alone. I benefited from an alignment of planets and an extremely motivated team of which I was only the conductor.”
For years, two archivists from the PJ of Lille have in fact patiently collected in France and Belgium reports of attacks or rapes which could bear the signature of the “rapist of the Sambre”.
A character the opposite of the policeman
For the needs of the fiction, Alice Géraud and Marc Herpoux, the two screenwriters chose to create a character in complete opposition to Franck Martins, as explained by Jean-Xavier de Lestrades, the director.
“We couldn’t afford to stick to someone real, because it’s very touchy. And then we weren’t sure that reality offered us anything interesting. Everything Alice told me about Commander Martins was very interesting.”
“We could therefore have stuck much more closely to the real character because he is a very likeable person, but we chose to create someone very far from him. In any case, we had distanced ourselves from the other characters, so we had to distance ourselves from this one too. From the moment we decide to fictionalize, we fictionalize everything.”
Consultant on HPI
It has now been four years since Franck Martins became a consultant on HPI, TF1’s flagship detective series starring Audrey Fleurot and Mehdi Nebbou. He thus helps the latter, as well as Marie Denarnaud, to construct their characters. Mehdi Nebbou wanted to be credible, and have the right gestures and dialogue.
Franck Martins therefore helped him create the character of Karadec. But since season 1, his role has evolved a lot since he also helps the writers in writing episodes and investigations. He also made a small appearance in an episode of season 3 of HPI in which he plays a prison guard.
Catch the last two episodes of Sambre this Monday, November 27 from 9:10 p.m. on France 2. The mini-series is already available in full on the france.tv platform.