'Prime Suspect' Prequel Comes to Masterpiece This Summer!

The three leads of "Prime Suspect: Tennison". (Photo:  Courtesy of ITV Studios and NoHo Film & Television for ITV and MASTERPIECE)

The highly anticipated prequel to beloved crime drama Prime Suspect finally has an airdate!

The drama, greenlit to some degree thanks to the success of ITV’s popular Inspector Morse prequel franchise, Endeavour, will premiere on PBS beginning June 25, as part of this summer’s Masterpiece Mystery line-up. Though it was titled Prime Suspect 1973 during its ITV airing this past March, the series will be called Prime Suspect: Tennison here in the U.S., I suspect for issues of clarity. But whatever you call it, it’ll be interesting to see the character that Dame Helen Mirren made famous once more. 

In this series, however, we meet Jane Tennison when she is just a young probation officer. Thrown into a brutal murder mystery, she witnesses first-hand the devastating effect of violent crime, experiencing tragic ramifications herself.  Immersed in the music, fashion and politics that defined a generation, the series follows her as she establishes herself in a workplace dominated by men, revealing the complexities and ambition and personal life that shaped one of television's most famous female characters.

Like Endeavour before it, the Prime Suspect: Tennison prequel aims to show us the early life of one of Britain’s most iconic fictional detectives. And how those early experiences helped shape them into the familiar character we now know. The original Prime Suspect series was one of the most successful British crime dramas ever made, so Tennison definitely has some pretty big shoes to fill.

The young Tennison will be played by actress Stefanie Martini, whom you may know from her recent roles on period drama Doctor Thorne or fantasy series Emerald City. She is joined by Blake Harrison (Dad’s Army, The Inbetweeners) and Sam Reid (Belle, The Riot Club), who play Jane’s superiors DCI Len Bradfield and DS Spenger Gibbs.   

The prequel angle has worked out quite well for Endeavour, which is set to return to Masterpiece for its fourth season later this summer. (It’s already been renewed for a fifth.) Will Prime Suspect: Tennison find similar success? We’ll have to wait and see, but here’s hoping!

Will you try out this new spin on Prime Suspect this June? Do you think a prequel story about Jane Tennison’s character will be interesting? 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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