Prime Suspect is a British police procedural television drama series created by Lynda La Plante which focuses on a no-nonsense female Detective Chief Inspector, Jane Tennison, who is attached to the Metropolitan Police division, and chronicles how she survives and thrives in a male-dominated profession.
The series aired in the UK on ITV as a series of made-for-TV movies from 7 April, 1991 to 22 October, 2006. In syndication each story typically airs as four-part seasons. There are seven seasons in the series in total.
The series originally aired in South Africa on M-Net and later aired on DStv's Movie Magic 2 (which later became M-Net Movies 2) channel, as a series of standalone movies. Broadcast dates of the original run of the series are not available.
Prime Suspect premiered in South Africa on DStv's Sony Entertainment Television (SONY) channel on Monday 18 July 2011, at 20h30. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.
Season 4 premiered on SONY on Monday 26 September 2011, at 20h30. New episodes broadcast weekly. There are three episodes in the fourth season.
Three different stories are presented in Prime Suspect 4 which finds the newly promoted Jane Tennison, now working for the Area Major Investigation Team, assigned to different stations to head up major inquiries.
After making some tough personal decisions, Tennison returns to old territory in London's Southampton Row station to find herself working against the clock to trace abducted toddler Vicki Covington in The Lost Child.
Inner Circles takes Tennison to a very different part of London - an affluent commuter suburb - to investigate a bizarre death. The case exposes the web of fraud, local government corruption and hollow relationships that can lie beneath the respectable veneer of the community.
And in The Scent of Darkness, Tennison faces personal and professional conflicts as, for the first time in her career, she begins to doubt whether the pressure of her job and her obsessive relationship with it are worth jeopardizing another romance for.
A series of murders take place bearing a chilling resemblance to those Tennison investigated in Prime Suspect 1. Are they copycat crimes?
The Lost Child
After making some tough personal decisions, Tennison returns to old territory in London's Southampton Row station to find herself working against the clock to trace abducted toddler Vicki Covington.
The child's mother, Susan Covington, has separated from her husband and is coping alone with the demands of career and baby.
Studying late into the night after finally settling her teething child, Susan falls asleep over her books, but jumps awake at an unexpected noise. The next morning the nanny turns up for work to discover Susan lying in a pool of blood and no sign of the baby.
WPC Maureen Havers is assigned to the distraught mother as she recovers from head injuries, while Tennison and her team move into action.
Once again, however, she finds herself at odds with her superiors in the Metropolitan Police and increasingly frustrated by bureaucracy.
As the team investigates links with paedophile organisations, child sex offender Chris Hughes quickly emerges as the prime suspect.
Tennison and DI Muddyman arrange a meeting with Patrick Schofield, the clinical psychologist responsible for his recent treatment.
Tennison is pleased when he compliments her handling of the case, but his refusal to release Hughes' notes provokes an unexpected response from Muddyman.
Meanwhile, Hughes' girlfriend Anne Sutherland, a divorced mother of two, is unaware of his past and Schofield warns Tennison that the pressure of the investigation could tip Hughes over the edge and put Anne's young daughters at risk.
As the investigation reaches its climax, an attempt to arrest Hughes is badly bungled and results in a tense siege situation.
With police marksmen in position and concern mounting for the safety of the hostages, Tension moves in to take control.
When Denis Carradine, manager of the local country club, is found dead in his home, neighbours are quick to blame youngsters from the rundown housing estate nearby - and the local police are happy to go along with that view.
Tennison soon finds herself at odds with the resentful DCI Raymond, the type of cop she has had problems with throughout her career, as well as with the influential voices of the middle-class community - in particular that of James Greenlees, managing director of Huntington Country Club and chairman of the Police Consultative Committee.
Tennison's personal resources are fully stretched as she is forced to engage in political games with the community, while pulling together a difficult team and leading a problematic investigation.
As the investigation continues, the dead man's financial dealings make less and less sense. Tennison begins to suspect a link with an on-going council probe into a property sale involving chief planning officer Paul Endicott.
She becomes convinced that Carradine's solicitor, the tough and manipulative Maria Henry, holds many of the answers, but the divorcee is giving nothing away.
The Scent of Darkness
Tennison's relationship with psychologist Patrick Schofield has developed into a promisingly happy affair. Determined to make a success of it, she nonetheless worries about the conflict between her job and the demands of her private life.
Then a series of murders takes place, bearing a chilling resemblance to those Tennison investigated previously. Are they copycat crimes? Or was George Marlow innocent of the original murders - as he always insisted?
As the ambitious DCI Mitchell casts doubt on Tennison's objectivity, an investigation begins into a possible miscarriage of justice - a task carried out with obvious relish by Tennison's old adversary Superintendent David Thorndyke.
Removed from the investigation, Tennison's determination to restore her professional reputation and prove she was right the first time brings her face to face with Marlow once more.
She goes into the confrontation armed with information gleaned from the senile Doris Marlow and convinced Marlow has vital clues to the latest killings.
Her actions incur the wrath of Commander Traynor, who immediately suspends her from duty while Thorndyke's investigation continues.
Tennison carries on her own inquiries with the secret assistance of DI Richard Haskons, whose loyalty puts his own career at stake. But as Tennison grows increasingly paranoid about her other colleagues' motives, she is badly shaken by the discovery that makes her doubt Schofield's motives.
Prevented by working, possibly betrayed by her lover and haunted by the past, she is forced to re-examine her most fundamental beliefs about her life and work.
In the meantime, time is fast funning out for the killer's next potential victim.
Note: these details are for the run of the show on SONY only. Original broadcast dates for the run on M-Net and Movie Magic 2 are not available.
Season 1 (4 episodes)
Premiere: 18 July 2011 | Finale: 8 August 2011 | Mondays, 20h30
Season 2 (4 episodes)
Premiere: 15 August 2011 | Finale: 5 September 2011 | Mondays, 20h30
Season 3 (2 episodes)
Premiere: 12 September 2011 | Finale: 19 September 2011 | Mondays, 20h30
Season 4 (3 episodes)
Premiere: 26 September 2011 | Finale: 10 October 2011 | Mondays, 20h30
Season 5 (2 episodes)
Premiere: 30 January 2012 | Finale: 6 February 2012 | Mondays, 20h30
Season 6 (2 episodes)
Premiere: 13 February 2012 | Finale: 20 February 2012 | Mondays, 20h30
Season 7 (2 episodes)
Premiere: 3 March 2012 | Finale: 10 March 2012 | Saturdays, 23h00