It is 1940 and Hitler's armies have defeated France. The German occupation army imposes strict control over the French population through identity cards and travel permits. Meanwhile, Gilbert Renault, an insurance executive leaves his wife Yvonne and children in Paris to offer his services to General De Gaulle in England.
In London, Colonel Passy, head of the Free French intelligence service, gives Renault the task of gathering information from ordinary French men and women instead of trained spies. To protect against possible reprisals on his family in France, Renault is given the code-name 'Remy'.
Throughout France, Remy appoints leaders for his Resistance networks. In Paris, Henri Giraud, an ex- First World War artillery officer is recruited to develop a fledgling network in Normandy. He uses his job as a cement salesman - which allows him to travel freely between Paris and his home town Caen - as cover for his intelligence work. To help hide his true identity from the Germans, he is known to the Resistance by different code names in each town. In Paris he is 'Malherbe', in Caen he is 'Moreau'.
Alain Deschaux, a witty painter and decorator, lives with his wife Colette in Caen, the coastal city of Normandy. They both work for 'Moreau'. Colette forges passes so that Alain and his agents can travel freely to collect information. While offering his services to the Todt, the German organisation responsible for military building, Deschaux steals a top secret construction map of the part of the Atlantic Wall, Hitler's coastal defences, between Le Havre and Cherbourg.
Giraud takes the map to Remy in Paris who tries to get it to England, but the Gestapo net is starting to close around them. Giraud, a confirmed bachelor, feels vulnerable and accepts the idea of having a female lookout and confidant, or 'shadow' called 'Dany', who works for an escort agency. (And to her Giraud is known as 'Marcel'.)
Remy and Yvonne make a desperate attempt to get to England, with the map, as the Gestapo net closes in. Will they get past the coastal check-point to make the sea rendezvous with the British?
Intelligence work must continue in France to check the accuracy of the stolen map. New information is collected and new maps are drawn and sent, by clandestine operations to England. The Allies will use all information gained by the French to make the D-Day invasion a success.
To thwart unrest and to counter French espionage, Hitler orders a great offensive against the French Resistance. Many agents are captured, killed or tortured, including Colette, who, with Alain, are by then also into recovering Allied airmen who've been shot down back to England. Alain becomes a broken man due to his wife's arrest. Other agents speculate who will talk, and what they themselves may do if caught.
As the networks start to collapse Giraud and Dany find love. But they must put that to one side as he must retrieve incriminating papers left in his apartment, in the full knowledge that the Gestapo are there waiting for him. Will he survive?
The main source of factual information on which this story is based is from the book "Ten Thousand Eyes" by Richard Collier. Corroboration and additional factual information comes from books written by Gilbert Renault himself, such as "Memoires D'un Agent Secret de la France Libre", and "Une Affaire de Trahison" under his nom de plume and alias Remy. The Author of Atlantic Wall has visited many sites and museums in Normandy, Brittany and Paris and the internet to inform the staging of this show.
The real names of the characters, save Remy, have been withheld to respect privacy and for artistic licence. The latter is particularly necessary in the UK to avoid confusion with character names in the hilarious comedy 'Allo Allo', for example Rene and Edith. This is because Atlantic Wall is more like the brilliant TV series 'Secret Army', the thrillers starring Bernard Hepton as the café owner, than the comedy show 'Allo Allo' that it spawned. No doubt the cast will enjoy a bit of sending up but only during rehearsals, please!
Also, because so many people were involved in Resistance activities it has been necessary to combine a number of real people into single characters. Genders have also been changed (for key Paris characters) to achieve a more balanced cast. But wherever possible, actual code names used by the Resistance have been retained.
No misrepresentation or defamation of character or breach of copyright is intended. What these ordinary people did in the face of adversity in the dark years of World War II deserves our utmost respect and gratitude.