There's no better way to start 2017 than with a new crime series, and that's why I can't wait to watch the Ransom premiere on CBS on Jan. 1. Focused on crisis negotiator Eric Beaumont and his team of a psych-profiler, an ex-cop, and an aspiring investigator, this suspense drama focuses on the psychological aspects of resolving kidnapping and ransom cases. Based on the trailers, it's bound to keep us on the edge of our seats — but is Ransom based on a true story?
According to the show's official synopsis on CBS, it's "inspired by the real-life professional experiences of the world-renowned crisis negotiator Laurent Combalbert and his partner Marwan Mery." So, although the series drew inspiration from a real person, the synopsis indicates that a great deal of artistic license will be used. For example, it sounds like Eric's personal life will play a significant role in the show — the plot description states that his stellar set of investigative skills "often complicate his relationships with family, friends, and colleagues."
In short, it appears that Combalbert's negotiation style influenced the show quite a bit, but the details of specific cases and the depiction of Eric's personal life will include many fictional elements.
Of course, it can't hurt to learn a little bit about Laurent Combalbert and his experiences before you watch the series inspired by his work. According to Combalbert's profile page on the London Speaker Bureau website, he worked as a hostage negotiator in the French Police Special Response Team RAID. During his time with RAID, Combalbert "managed dozens of hostage-takings, extortions and kidnappings with a matter of life and death," according to The Speakers Academy. Because he speaks publicly about his experiences, it wouldn't be surprising if many cases viewers see on Ransom are loosely based on negotiations managed by Combalbert himself.
The London Speaker Bureau also notes that Combalbert is the creator of the "Expatriates & Travelers Security Department" for CIVIPOL, the advisory company for the French Ministry of Interior. In 2013, he founded the Agency of Dedicated Negotiators, which is described on its LinkedIn page as a group of professional negotiators which focuses on two key channels — providing training for complex negotiations methods and giving guidance in all fields of negotiation, both personal and professional.
Although Combalbert no longer works as a hostage negotiator himself, he now uses his skill set and experience to train others. His London Speaker Bureau profile notes that he's a study coordinator and member of the advisory committee at the National Institute of Higher Studies in Security and Justice. Combalbert is also an assessor for the Progress in Management Association and he travels the world as a motivational speaker — the former negotiator gives over 120 speeches each year.
So, although Ransom will be largely fictional, the fact that it's inspired by Combalbert, who frequently speaks out about his work, means viewers can probably expect many aspects of the show to be realistic. It may not be a completely true story, but we'll definitely learn a thing or two about how negotiations really go down.