Roehampton Academic Publishes Book On TV Crime Drama Prime Suspect

Looking at what made the programme so distinctive, controversial and influential

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Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison, was a grim UK police drama that became one of the most talked about TV programmes in recent memory.

In her latest book Prime Suspect, Dr Deborah Jermyn, Reader in Film and Television, has examined exactly what made the programme so distinctive, so controversial and, ultimately, so influential in its innovations transforming the TV crime drama.

The book, which is part of the British Film Industry Classics collection, places the series in the context of TV crime fictions that had gone before it, particularly those featuring female detectives, such as Cagney and Lacey.

Dr Jermyn also addresses the institutionalised sexism and misogyny that Tennison confronts to real-life discrimination and prejudice that has dogged British policing and attitudes to women, whether as investigators or victims.

Dr Jermyn highlights the formal and aesthetic innovations of Prime Suspect, in its attention to the detail of forensic work; its unflinching portrayal of its murder victims and the cinematic shooting style with frequent use of deep focus and bravura camera angles. Her close analysis of key scenes demonstrates how the programme adopted an intricate camera style to differentiate and isolate Tennison from her colleagues.

Dr Jermyn is also the author of Crime Watching: Investigating Real Crime TV and co-editor of Falling in Love Again: Romantic Comedy in Contemporary Cinema.

July 2, 2010