The Prime Suspect prequel is moving forward. ITV has handed out a six episode series order to the project, which has been in the works for more than a year, every since Prime Suspect creator Lynda La Plante announced in 2014 that she was writing a prequel novel titled Tennison, which would also be adapted for television.
Tennison is set in 1970s Hackney and follows 22 year old Jane Tennision, a probationary officer with the Metropolitan Police Service in London. The series will reveal why she became such a complex and formidable character in the Metropolitan Police, as seen in Prime Suspect. In her early years, the character is described as being “single-minded and ambitious” in a world where high-ranking police officers were notoriously chauvinistic, and the rules and regulations often bent.
Casting for the lead role is now underway and it is not immediately clear who is in the frame to play a younger version of the character famously played by Dame Helen Mirren in the 1990s. Other characters who will feature in Tennision include DCI Bradfield, an SIO who works with WPC Tennision early on in her career on her very first murder case; and members of Jane Tennison’s family. Helen Mirren is not expected to appear in Tennison, which will on ITV in 2016, marking the 25th anniversary of the launch of Prime Suspect. The novel (pictured) will be published this September.
Lynda La Plante created the series and is penning the scripts for all six episodes. Tennison is set up ay La Plante’s La Plante Global, who are co-producing the drama alongside Noho Film & Television – the independent production company set up in 2012 by Robert Wulff-Cochrane and Camilla Campbell. Lynda La Plante, Camilla Campbell and Robert Wulff-Cochrane serve as executive producers. ITV Studios Global Entertainment will handle international distribution.
“I’m delighted Lynda has re-visited the iconic character of Jane Tennison,” said ITV’s Director of Drama Steve November, who commissioned Tennison alongside ITV’s Controller of Drama Victoria Fea. “The scripts are brilliantly written and she perfectly captures the sights, sounds and mood of the 70s period.”
Prime Suspect has been an important title for both ITV and Lynda La Plante. The original series starring Helen Mirren aired between 1991 and 2006, scoring numerous accolades and being sold globally. The show was particularly popular in the United States and has been cited as an inspiration for James Duff’s TNT series The Closer starring Kyra Sedgwick. There were also numerous attempts to adapt the series for the US market, with only one, starring Maria Bello, making it to screen in 2011. It was unable to match the popularity of the original, however, and was cancelled after one season.