At the time, Monday at 8 p.m., it was sacred when André Gagnon’s theme began to play. At the beginning, these ladies at the dawn of their forties were perfect housewives, except Véronique (Michelle Rossignol), the most modern of the quartet, true fashion card and owner of her magazine.
Lucie (Louise Rémy) was beginning to see clearly in the playing of her Jean-Paul (Gilbert Sicotte) while he promised sea and world to his mistress Julie Bastien (Dorothée Berryman), without ever keeping his word.
Évelyne (Andrée Boucher) was a victim of domestic violence, under the yoke of an authoritarian husband (Raymond Bouchard, then Pierre Gobeil).
Finally, Claire (Luce Guilbeault) was hiding a heavy secret from her husband Gilbert (Michel Dumont), who neglected her for the benefit of his firm of accountants.
Fortunately, all ended up emancipating themselves, like the women of the time. “Mom liked to kick down doors and bring something new. The soap opera is used to represent society and to make it evolve into something beautiful, ”says Sylvie Payette.
What neither the mother nor the daughter had foreseen was that a male character would supplant the four heroines in the public interest: the don Juan doubled by a notorious liar Jean-Paul Belleau, who whispered “my doe In the ear of his mistress, a role that forever marked Gilbert Sicotte. That’s a lot more of him than the four women we were talking about the next day.
“At first, we thought people would like to hate him. What we never imagined was that people would love him and stand up for him. The men especially, but there are many women who adored him and said that they would endure it despite his infidelities! ” remembers Sylvie Payette.
The character has become bigger than himself, until being transposed in Loto-Quebec pubs. The author and novelist has fun thinking about the madness around Jean-Paul. “The magazine Croc had released t-shirts “I slept with Jean-Paul Belleau” and “No, I did not sleep with Jean-Paul Belleau”. Rock and Belles Oreilles had done extraordinary sketches [«Des deux de pique»], which were very, very funny. ” Would you have a little coffee?
Unfortunately, just like Lise Payette, who died in 2018, three of the four ladies of the heart have passed away. The first, Luce Guilbeault, was only 56 years old when she succumbed to cancer in 1989, just a few weeks after the end ofA sign of fire, in which she had reprized the role of Claire. “She had refused to be replaced and we had shot all her scenes in advance in a few days,” recounts Sylvie Payette sadly.
Then, Louise Rémy died at 77 in 2016 before Michelle Rossignol, who left last year at 80.
But here’s the big question: has it aged well? Can we not get distracted by the hairstyles with the spray net and the epaulettes of the 80s? Or will we look at it for what it is: a story rooted in its time with some things that are no longer being said and others that are still relevant today?
“I hope the grandparents will tell their grandchildren to watch Ladies of heart with them to show them how it was at the time, ”says Sylvie Payette, who finds that current TV lacks great love stories, like those experienced by Pete and Lola or Émilie and Ovila.