Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Stefanie Martini, Sam Reid, Blake Harrison, Alun Armstrong, Andrew Brooke, Daniel Ezra, Jessica Gunning, Joshua Hill, Jordan Long, Tommy McDonnell, Ruth Sheen, Lex Shrapnel, Jay Taylor, Rosie Day, Clive De-Halton Gibson, Nicholas Sidi, Anthony Skordi, Geraldine Somerville, Nneka Okoye, Aaron Pierre, Nancy Caroll, Jacob James Beswick, Thomas Coombes, Dorian Lough.
If you can no longer make programmes about your favourite characters because the actor has unfortunately passed away or they just don’t want to do the part anymore then these days it is no problem, such moments can be got round, such issues can be smoothed over by revisiting the character’s origins, the time before they became the fully rounded and much loved screen presence the British public have come to love and admire. If it can work for Morse/Endeavour then it can certainly work for one of the 90s biggest hits, Prime Suspect and its successor/predecessor Prime Suspect 1973.
In terms of casting, the makers could not have asked for a finer actor than Stefanie Martini to take on the role of Jane Tennison. Not only does the part, the character, deserve someone of such of dramatic poise in the role but to fill the shoes of Helen Mirren, to take on a role that has had one of the true heavy hitters of stage and screen made her own. It has to be someone outstanding worthy and whilst Ms. Martini’s own screen career so far may have been somewhat limited, what she has brought to each role is a sense of the heroic, of the vulnerable and of the deep thinking dignity that such parts cry out for. To have such a strong actor in the role is essential and Stefani Martini truly fits the mould as the younger probationary policewoman.
Alongside superb performances by Alun Armstrong as the head of the Clifford crime family, Geraldine Somerville as the over protective and unsure of her daughter’s career choice mother and Andrew Brooke as the world weary but stern Sergeant Harris, Prime Suspect 1973 is a series that surely deserves recognition, in much the same way that Life On Mars showed, for the way it portrays a distant way of thinking, of the struggles facing certain sections of society who try to make their way into the Police Force during a difficult time in race and gender relations in the country.
A very good six part serial, one that could have easily been lost in the mire of self-congratulations and hype but instead was satisfying, evenly paced and true to the history of the time and the future events to come for Jane Tennison experienced now over 20 years ago.
Ian D. Hall