Prime Suspect is a British police procedural television drama series made by Granada Television for the ITV network in the 1990s and 2000s. The screenplays for the first and third serials (and the story for the second) were written by Lynda La Plante, and in 1993 she received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for her work. The following year, Allan Cubitt's screenplay for Prime Suspect 2 brought the series a second Edgar.
Helen Mirren portrays no-nonsense female Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Jane Tennison (later promoted to Detective Superintendent), surviving and thriving in a male-dominated profession. The character was said to be based on Jackie Malton, who acted as an advisor to the authors.
The first series features sexism in the workplace as a significant subplot and a barrier to the investigation. Sequels have tended to downplay this theme, relying on straight procedure or on other subplots - for example, institutional racism in Prime Suspect 2, paedophilia, child abuse, and prostitution in Prime Suspect 3. Tennison's difficulty in achieving a balance between her work and her life outside the job, and her difficulty in maintaining stable relationships, are a recurring issue within the series. At the close of Prime Suspect 3 she arranges to have her pregnancy terminated. As the series progresses, she increasingly relies upon alcohol to help her cope; this culminates in the final episode of the series in her visit to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, where she finally acknowledges and confronts her addiction.
Prime Suspect's format is multiple episodes: each case runs around 3½ hours (excluding commercials) usually aired in two parts or four parts. Prime Suspect 4 was an exception at 4½ hours in three separate cases.
The first five series were produced at a steady pace of one every eighteen months, until Helen Mirren left the role to avoid typecasting (according to a PBS interview). She returned to the character after a seven-year gap.
Prime Suspect: The Final Act was an ITV and WGBH co-production. Part one first aired (preview) in the UK on 15 October, 2006 and in the U.S. on 12 November, 2006 on the PBS program Masterpiece Theatre with Mirren starring opposite Tom Bell, Gary Lewis, Stephen Tompkinson and Laura Greenwood.
Part 1: 7 April 1991, Part 2: 8 April 1991 (UK) |
|Prime Suspect 2||
Part 1: 15 December 1992, Part 2: 16 December(UK)|
|Prime Suspect 3||
Part 1: 19 December 1993, Part 2: 20 December 1993 (UK)|
|Prime Suspect 4, The Lost Child||
30 April 1995 (UK)|
|Prime Suspect 4, Inner Circles||
7 May 1995 (UK)|
|Prime Suspect 4, Scent of Darkness||
15 May 1995 (UK)|
The Lost Child: A child's death points to a convicted child molester, who has completed his prison sentence and lives with his family, keeping his dark past a secret from them. However, the man's counselor believes that he would not have done it due to his preference in victims. This episode introduces Dr. Schofield (Stuart Wilson).
Inner Circles: DSupt Tennison investigates the murder of a country club manager.
Scent of Darkness: A series of murders resembling those by George Marlow, investigated in the original Prime Suspect, have encouraged Tennison's subordinates to re-open the case, given that Marlow is stuck in prison when the new crimes took place. Tennison is reluctant however, as she is sure Marlow is guilty, but in the end she is vindicated when a prison guard who knows Marlow confesses to the crimes. Dr. Schofield returns for this episode as Tennison's love interest.
|Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgment''||
20 October 1996 (UK)|
|Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness||
Part 1: 9 November 2003, Part 2: 10 November 2003 (UK)|
|Prime Suspect: The Final Act||
Part 1: 15 October 2006, Part 2: 22 October 2006 (UK)|
Part 1: 12 November 2006, Part 2: 19 November 2006 (US)