The Cup – a six-part comedy series for BBC Two
Emmanuel Leconte plays Mercier
Raymond Mercier is the dishy Parisian replacement coach who has the women drooling despite his indecipherable philosophical utterances…
He is played by French actor Emmanuel Leconte who recently moved to England and starred alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers in The Tudors.
Emmanuel explains: "Mercier does have a genuine love of football and loves to transmit his love of the game to the kids he's coaching.
"He is incredibly positive about football and that good vibe contrasts with the parents who are more in it for victory; he's there to have a good time and encourage the children."
Emmanuel continues: "I suspect Mercier ended up in Bolton because he was following a woman. He was in Ashford teaching PE and met with people in the football circuit.
"His main connection is with Sandra Farrell who is the Chairman. They have a very close relationship so she decides to trust him as coach instead of the parents, who are only interested in putting their own children forward as the main scorer."
He was impressed by the way the French character has been depicted in the script: "The writers are pretty spot on in the way it was written. There were occasions when a word wouldn't feel right and I'd adapt it slightly, but I hope I added even more authenticity to it."
He continues: "Mercier doesn't have a great grasp of English and sometimes has a very weird way of transmitting his love of football to the children. He seems to relate things back to nature, and for some reason fish come into it quite a lot!"
Mercier also has quite an effect on some of the wives on the team.
Emmanuel laughs: "There is the continental cliché of men being really relaxed with women.
"He arouses things in these women although he's totally unaware of it, that's just his way, very friendly without realising the sparks he's creating – there's a few misunderstandings shall we say!"
To prepare for the role, Emmanuel spoke to a friend who is a football coach for kids: "I told him about the script, how Mercier has a lot of pressure from the dads and he told me that this happens all the time; people really do come up to him and demand that their kid be the star.
"In fact, Mercier's main job seems to be to try and manage tempers and the craziness of Terry especially!"
Emmanuel really enjoyed being around the young stars of the show: "They are amazing – really professional but still know how to have a laugh. Every time there was a break we'd all run around and play football."
He was particularly impressed by the footballing skills of one young cast member: "Out of all of them I wouldn't mess with Haylie; she's incredible and has some fierce tackles."
He adds: "There was a funny moment when one of the young boys came up and asked if I was a real foreigner – I didn't really know how to answer that one!"