Prime Suspect 1973, Stefanie Martini

ITV PRIME SUSPECT 1973 Pictured :STEFANIE MARTINI as Jane Tennison. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

If the cap fits – Stefanie Martini as novice cop Jane Tennison

A prequel that tries hard but is nowhere near as arresting as the original

★★★ ITV, Thursday, 2 March, 9pm

IT’S BEEN nine years since DCI Jane Tennison, played so unforgettably by Helen Mirren, gave up her warrant card. Lynda La Plante’s Prime Suspect originally launched in 1991 and had a huge impact with its depiction of a determined woman in a workplace male stronghold and some gritty storylines.

As happened with Morse, however, ITV couldn’t let it go. Where Endeavour has gone already, Prime Suspect 1973 now follows.

Stefanie Martini is the fresh-face WPC Tennison. She’s a ‘posh sort’ from Maida Vale, defying her stuffy parents to work as a put-upon constable in Hackney.

Tennison’s first murder case

If the sexism was bad in 1991, it was epic in 1973. The 22-year-old Tennison is obliged to make tea, put up with regular bollockings, male leering and wipe up vomit when a prisoner pukes.

ITV PRIME SUSPECT 1973 Pictured L-R :JESSICA GUNNING as Kath Morgan,TOMMY MCDONNELL as DC Hudson,STEFANIE MARTINI as Jane Tennison,SAM REID as DCI Len Bradfield,JOSHUA HILL as DC Edwards,DANIEL EZRA as DC Ashton and BLAKE HARRISON as DS Spencer Gibbs. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Police line-up – Jessica Gunning as Kath Morgan,Tommy McDonnell as DC Hudson,Stefanie Martini as Jane Tennison,San Reid as DCI Len Bradfield, Joshua Hill as DC Edwards, Daniel Ezra as DC Ashton and Blake Harrison as DS Gibbs

Meanwhile, a teenage female is found strangled on the Kingsmead Estate. She is a young runaway.

What lets this series opener down is that it feels flat. The male neanderthals we know well. And how many crime series have opened with the corpse of a young woman.

Love in the air already?

Romance with Tennison’s sympathetic boss, the similarly posh DI Bradfield (Sam Reid), could be looming and it’s obvious that the novice is going to try to solve the murder case single-handedly.

The original set such high standards that it was hard not to hope that this reboot, based on Lynda La Plante’s bestselling novel Tennison, would shake us up with something distinctive. Instead, it’s sort of OK.

ITV PRIME SUSPECT 1973 Pictured :STEFANIE MARTINI as Jane Tennison. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on the website www.itvpictures.com For further information please contact: Patrick.smith@itv.com

Sharp end – Tennison’s first autopsy

Many TV dramas these days have intricately woven stories running simultaneously. This has a little business going on in prison with Alun Armstrong, but otherwise it follows Tennison’s introduction to vomit clean-ups, the emotional next-of-kin visit and an autopsy.

Its good points are a pretty decent cast, the realistic Hackney setting and that the period depiction is not a nostalgia fest. Alun Armstrong is always good value, and Stefanie Martini has the star presence to hold together what is, unfortunately, a rather cliched story.

Prime Suspect – Killer TV No5

Above Suspicion – Deadly Intent PREVIEW

Ciarán Hinds, Kelly Reilly, Shaun Dingwall and Celyn Jones (pics: (C) ITV Plc/LA PLANTE)

Rating ★★★

ITV1, Mon 3 Jan, Tues 4 Jan, Wed 5 Jan, 9pm

This is a third outing for Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion featuring detective Anna Travis, the modern-day heir apparent to Prime Suspect‘s Jane Tennison.

But while she may be Tennison’s heir, Travis is not her equal. Above Suspicion has performed very decently for ITV in the ratings – first series notching up 8m viewers – and Kelly Reilly, who plays Travis, may be an attractive lead, but this new La Plante production is not as sure-footed or powerful as Helen Mirren’s predecessor.

Reilly is too girlish (despite being 33) and glam to convince as a high-flying detective in what is still shown here to be a male-chauvinist enclave. And she is flying – having started out as a teetering rookie in series one, she is now a detective inspector.

Jane Tennison would never have cut it if she’d worn short black skirts and low-cut singlets around the office, and though we may have moved on since 1991, we haven’t moved on so far that Travis would be taken seriously looking so exposed today.

Despite such quibbles, this third series is possibly the best yet. Not as gruesome as the others, particularly last time’s The Red Dahlia instalment, but still a compelling story.

Plastic surgery in Mexico
In a prelude, we see a mystery man in Mexico getting plastic surgery, before the action switches to London, where there’s been a shooting on a council estate drug squat. The victim turns out to be Frank Brandon, a bent cop and former chum of Travis’s gruff guvnor, DCS James Langton (Ciarán Hinds).

His team quickly discovers that Brandon recently married Julia Larson (Stine Stengade), a glamorous, wealthy woman who was employing him as her driver. All of which seems a bit unusual.

Known to have been on the estate are fierce drug dealer Silas Roach (Robbie Gee, left) and small-time user Eddie Court (Ashley Court). Meanwhile, Travis questions a resident on the estate who insists he heard three shots, when only two bullets hit Brandon.

Travis’s style to follow her hunches on her own, because her male superiors don’t listen to her. She finds the third bullet – and gets a rollicking – questions Julia Larson, who reluctantly reveals she had a previous husband, and researches Fentanyl, a pure drug with the street name Drop Dead, traces of which were found at the squat.

What’s going on between Travis and Langton?
Brandon’s strange marriage, the man who changed his identity and the drug that seems to have prompted several assassinations make this a heady story. Mixed in are Travis’s clashes with DCI Mike Lewis (Shaun Dingwall), who’s also been promoted and is heading the investigation, and the intensifying emotional spark she has with their boss, Langton.

La Plante gives an insight into this strange attraction. She says, ‘It’s really down to the will-they-won’t-they, question?

‘A lot of women absolutely love Langton, and some find him really awful to Travis. In that respect it’s a bit like Gone with the Wind. He’s so nasty to her at times, but in this one we do have the emotional impact when he tells her the truth about his life. We see that this vulnerability allows Travis to reveal her feelings for him, if only to herself. It continues to build the tension between them. I think this is what makes their interaction compelling.

‘Langton is a dedicated police officer and an exceedingly good one who has very strong gut instincts, but he is not an intellectual man. He’s hardly ever read a book, if it wasn’t connected to a crime.

‘However, Travis is university educated and different… she also stands up to him, which none of the other women or men do. But like Langton, Travis is intuitively intelligent and in many ways has a similar trait to Langton in that, she won’t let something go. This makes her a very good detective, she could very easily dismiss the fact that one of the witnesses said she heard three bullets. Her persistence in uncovering the detail proves to be the key in this case. A fact that Langton admires.’

Travis stirs the case further when she discovers a link between Julia’s ex and a drug distributor on the FBI most wanted listed, who could now be in the UK. The team don’t really know what they are investigating or how the case will escalate, and neither will viewers.

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