Prime Suspect is returning to ITV by way of a prequel to the Helen Mirren-led miniseries that began in the early 90s and concluded with 2006’s The Final Act. Lynda La Plante, who wrote the early installments of that series will pen Tennison, a six-part hourlong period drama. Mirren originally played Jane Tennison, one of the first female Detective Chief Inspectors in the Metropolitan Police; the prequel will see a young Tennison as she begins her career, revealing why she became such a complex and formidable character.
La Plante came up with the idea for a prequel series based on her latest novel of the same name which will be published in September.
Set in the 1970s, as female police constables are being uneasily ‘integrated’ into the force, the story introduces 22-year-old Jane, a probationary officer in a world where high-ranking male officers were notoriously chauvinistic. Single-minded and ambitious, if a touch naïve, her dedicated and instinctive approach to her career is evident from the start. She is thrown in at the deep end, drawn into a brutal murder investigation, and experiences first-hand London’s violent criminal ganglands. Tennison works alongside senior investigating officer DCI Bradfield, and sees the devastating effects violent crime has on the victim’s family, as well as experiencing tragic ramifications herself.
The stylized series will include a strong 70s musical backdrop. It will also introduce Tennison’s family, opening a window onto the personal life that shaped the character later seen in the Mirren version.
The original Prime Suspect was produced by Granada Television for ITV with installments 4-7 co-produced by WGBH Boston for the Masterpiece Mystery anthology series. La Plante won an Edgar for Best TV Feature or Miniseries in 1993. The series won a Peabody the same year and ultimately scored three Emmys for Outstanding Mini, as well as receiving several BAFTAs.
An airdate for Tennison is expected next year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first Prime Suspect. La Plante co-created the New York-set 2011-2012 NBC reimagining which starred Maria Bello as Detective Jane Timoney. She also wrote the 2002 heist thriller mini Widows, which is being adapted as a feature by Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen who will direct.
Tennison is co-produced by La Plante Global and Robert Wulff-Cochrane and Camilla Campbell’s Noho Film and Television. Campbell and Wulff-Cochrane are exec producing with La Plante. ITV Studios Global Entertainment is selling internationally.