Helen Mirren plays Jane Tennison, a hard-bitten female detective (DCI)—and starting in the third mini-series, Detective Superintendent—in a male-dominated profession in this crime series. The character was said to be based on Alison Halford, who acted as an advisor to the authors.
The programme set a trend for many new programmes with women in leading roles. One example is M.I.T., a spin off from The Bill on ITV.
Prime Suspect's format amounts to a series of mini-series: each case runs for several nights of two hours. In the 1990s, five such mini-series each completed a case. Prime Suspect 6 broadcasts began in the United States on April 18, 2004, and Mirren has said she expects to make the seventh her last.
Prime Suspect (1991)
Prime Suspect 2 (1992)
4 1-hour episodes
Prime Suspect 3 (1993)  (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/primesuspect12345/primesuspect3.html)
Prime Suspect 4 (1995)
The Lost Child
Scent of Darkness
Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgment (1996)  (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/primesuspect12345/primesuspect5.html)
Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness (2004)  (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/primesuspect6/)
By installing a woman as the head of a murder squad, PrimeSuspect broke new ground in terms of both gender and the authenticity in the portrayal of the internal dynamics of the police as an organisation.
With PrimeSuspect and the creation of DCI Jane Tennison, La Plante continued to elaborate her predilection for problematic heroines, but this time, her central character is not a criminal but a woman both shaped and defined by her role as an officer of the law.
In Tennison's pursuit of serial killer George Marlowe in PrimeSuspect I, for example, not only must she prove she is an exceptional detective and win the support of her male colleagues, but the narrative is shot through with her compulsive need to succeed in her job at any cost.
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