Lynda La Plante launches a new detective hero on ITV1

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Award winning writer Lynda La Plante launches a major new female detective in a gripping crime thriller for ITV1, Above Suspicion.

..."I have always been enamoured of Ciarán Hinds the actor."

Based on her best selling novel, the two-part drama introduces DC Anna Travis, a young and ambitious officer who is fast-tracking her way through the ranks, eager to prove herself to be as successful as her late father.

Kelly Reilly (He Kills Coppers, Joe's Palace, Eden Lake, Mrs Henderson Presents) plays Lynda La Plante's new heroine. Acclaimed actor Ciarán Hinds (There Will Be Blood, Margot at the Wedding, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Prime Suspect) stars as her boss, the volatile Detective Chief Inspector Langton.

Jason Durr (Winter Solstice, True,True Lie, Heartbeat) stars as the prime suspect. Shaun Dingwall (Survivors, The Long Firm, Touching Evil) and Daniel Caltagirone (The Passion, The Fall) play the murder squad detectives. The prestigious cast also includes John Savident, Michelle Holmes and Amanda Lawrence.

Anna Travis has been assigned to her first murder case - a gruesome series of killings that has shocked even the most hardened of detectives. The murders started eight years ago, and now the body count is up to six. The method of killing is identical, and the victims are all drug-users and prostitutes.

Then a seventh body is found. The modus operandi is the same, but the victim is a young student.

Determined to earn recognition from her boss, the brusque Detective Chief Inspector Langton, and the respect of her male colleagues, Anna works hard to find a vital piece of information which links one man to the murders.

The suspect is Alan Daniels, a much-loved actor on the brink of international stardom. His arrest would create media frenzy. But if he is found innocent Anna's hard fought for reputation would be destroyed.

Above Suspicion is made by La Plante Productions for ITV1.  The drama is produced by Lynda La Plante and Jolyon Symonds (Trial and Retribution, Hustle, Whatever Love Means, Kevin and Perry Go Large), and directed by Christopher Menaul (See No Evil: The Moors Murders, State of Mind, Prime Suspect). Executive Producer is Liz Thorburn.

Lynda La Plante is the creator and writer of a string of critically acclaimed and ratings winning crime dramas including Prime Suspect, Widows, The Governor, The Commander and Trial and Retribution.

Lynda says:

"It is very exciting, this is the first time that one of my books has been adapted for the UK screen and I am thrilled. In creating Anna Travis, a young Detective Constable just out of training, I can explore what it is like for a young Detective to face their first murder inquiry, the emotion that comes with that as well the pressure and intrigue of the investigation.

"Kelly Reilly for me was so right for this role, she not only embodies the character with her red hair and striking looks, but more than that, she brings her own experience of being the daughter of a policeman.  It is that understanding and shared experience that helps her bring Anna to life on the screen."

"I have always been enamoured of Ciarán Hinds the actor. He brings a weight and stature that is required to play DCI Langton.  We have worked together before and I have always hoped we would work together again and I am thrilled that he is Langton."  

Laura Mackie, Director of ITV Drama, says:

"It is really exciting to be launching a brand new Lynda La Plante thriller, with such a prestigious cast in the leading roles. Lynda has proved time and again that she leads the way in the crime genre and with the classy direction of Christopher Menaul this is a real blue-chip project for ITV1".


Lynda La Plante

A young detective constable who was inspired to join the police by watching Prime Suspect provided Lynda La Plante with a new hero for her latest novel.

The character of Anna Travis, the detective constable embarking on her first murder investigation in Above Suspicion, the book and now the television drama, was born when Lynda met the young female officer at a forensic science conference.

"At the end of a lecture this very young, very attractive woman came up to me, and she said 'I know who you are, you are Lynda La Plante, I am a great fan of Prime Suspect'.

"I thanked her and she said 'there's actually more than that because it was the reason I joined the police force'.

"You suddenly feel terribly old! It's not that long ago that Prime Suspect was on television. She said she joined the police force and that she was now a detective. She said 'Jane Tennison was such an inspiration for me'.

"So there I was looking at this very young girl who was giving me the character of Anna Travis. I asked if I could meet some more of her friends and colleagues which I subsequently did. I then had Anna Travis there to do with her what I want to.

"At the same time I had a meeting with my publishers who said 'we really want you to do a detective novel' and I said well I have a character, Anna Travis. So then Above Suspicion came up trumps.

"Anna Travis is an amalgamation of characters. It is exactly how I made Jane Tennison. I particularly liked one girl because she was quite short with this kind of cropped red hair, and I really liked this other willowy one. One was very shy. So bit by bit I would snatch a bit of one's home life, and another bit, and created the fact that her family were in the police force.

"What is interesting is that when Kelly Reilly met us for the part of Anna Travis she suddenly said 'my dad was a Met police officer' and she has got the red hair I imagined for my character. As soon as she walked in the door I thought 'I don't believe it, here comes Anna Travis'. "

Lynda has now written four books around the character of Anna Travis: The Red Dahlia and Clean Cut followed Above Suspicion. The latest book, Deadly Intent was published in September. All the books are on the best sellers lists.

"I am always researching different stories and the terrifying thing is that in Above Suspicion, it is hard to believe, but it is based on a real crime. So what I do is I cloak things so that in my book the suspect is a movie star but in the real story he wasn't. He was as famous but he wasn't a movie star. I am like a kind of sponge."

Lynda has adapted her own novel for television, and admits it wasn't an easy task.

"When you are cutting down a 500 page novel into two episodes you do lose a lot so I have had to be very strict with myself to produce the little jewels and anything that takes a long time has been snipped."

Unlike the hero of Prime Suspect, Anna Travis is a rookie detective with a lot to learn.

"With Anna Travis we see a girl moving up bit by bit. She is a detective constable, and she is so abused. She lies too. When Langton asks her if she has ever been to an autopsy she says she has. But of course she hadn't, so you see her totally collapse. She knocks over a trolley. It is nerves.

"Since Prime Suspect there have been a lot of advances in the police. The discriminatory side of the police has really diminished, and there are a lot more high ranking females, particularly at a very high rank like commander."

Lynda says she hopes Above Suspicion will appeal to a wide audience.

"We have so many terrific series going on, so event TV is getting very hard because the standard is so high and the slipstream of drama is getting thinner and thinner. I always maintain that there is a mass intelligent audience that we overrule over and over again who ache for something of intelligence.

"I hope I am writing intelligent drama. I don't ever think I am writing this in the hope that a sixteen year old will be interested. The proof is in the pudding: as a sixteen year old Anna Travis was born because this girl loved to watch Jane Tennison."

A trademark of Lynda's success has always been her meticulous attention to detail.

"I don't do all the research now. I am very fortunate to have at the head of the research section at La Plante Productions, an ex very high ranking police officer. He has his finger on the pulse all the time.

"For example we are constantly cutting and reworking the script ready to start shooting so before I would have to go to Scotland Yard, and wait to see if my contacts were available for me to talk to. Now I can knock on Callum Sutherland's door and ask what are the repercussions of someone slitting their wrists in custody, for instance.

"He will explain what would happen, so because we have to work so fast, I am immediately right on the button."

Lynda has only once had a cameo role in one of her own dramas. And she has vowed never to do it again.

"The director Christopher Menaul asked me to be a barmaid, carrying a tray of beer across the room. Those bastards had me carrying this overloaded tray with eight pints of beer. I smelt disgusting, I had beer all over me and Chris made me go back and forth, back and forth. You forget how many takes to a scene. I said never again would I do that. And then they cut me out!"

Lynda La Plante was born in Liverpool, and trained for the stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Work with the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company led to a career as a television actress with regular roles in dramas such as Fox, Minder and The Sweeney.

She began writing at a young age, but it was while she was filming The Gentle Touch that she wrote four plot outlines, and sent them to the show's producers. They were all returned as unsuitable, but on one of her ideas someone had written 'this is wonderful!' That was all the encouragement
Lynda needed, and that brief synopsis eventually became the phenomenally successful TV series Widows, nominated for a BAFTA award in 1982.

Her eight subsequent books The Legacy, Bella Mafia, Entwined, Cold Shoulder, Cold Heart, Sleeping Cruelty and Royal Flush were all international best sellers.

Lynda's original scripts for the first three highly acclaimed Prime Suspect series, starring Helen Mirren, won many prizes, including six BAFTAs, The British Broadcasting Award, The Royal Television Society Writer's Award, the Edgar Allen Poe Writer's Award and an Emmy for Best Mini Series. Numerous other screen credits include Civvies, Comics, Seconds Out, Framed and She's Out.

Lynda's own production company, La Plante Productions, was established in 1994 to maintain creative control over her work. The company's productions to date include The Governor, Supply and Demand, Trial and Retribution, The Commander, Killer Net and Mind Games.

In America Lynda co-wrote and produced The Prosecutors with Tom Fontana (Oz) for NBC. In 1998 The Konigsberg Company produced Bella Mafia, a four hour mini series for CBS, which she adapted from her novel of the same name. She has also co-produced with ABC her adaptation of Widows, produced Cold Shoulder as a pilot for New Regency/CBS and The Warden a two hour pilot for TNT, which is a changed format of her highly successful series The Governor. Lynda executive produced Daniel Petrie Junior's adaptation of her show Framed, which aired on TNT and starred Sam Neill and Rob Lowe.

In addition to La Plante Productions Lynda has set up a film company, Cougar Films, with producer Sophie Balhetchet. The company, which was inaugurated in autumn 2001, has a number of projects in development and will produce feature films as well as television programmes.

Lynda was awarded a creative writing scholarship to join John Moores University in her home city of Liverpool, and is an honorary member of the British Film Institute. She also won the BAFTA Dennis Potter Writers' Award.

Lynda is currently developing more scripts, and will be at Buckingham Palace later this year to collect her CBE.

Cast

DC Anna Travis..................................................................................... KELLY REILLY

DCI James Langton............................................................................. CIARAN HINDS

Alan Daniels............................................................................................ JASON DURR

DI Mike Lewis................................................................................ SHAUN DINGWALL

DS Paul Barolli...................................................................... DANIEL CALTAGIRONE

DC Barbara Maddox................................................................... MICHELLE HOLMES

Joan Faukland......................................................................... AMANDA LAWRENCE

Barry Southwood.............................................................................. JOHN SAVIDENT

DCI Hudson.................................................................................. MARTIN HERDMAN

Commander Jane Leigh............................................... NADIA CAMERON-BLAKEY

Veronica Malins............................................................. THUSITHA JAYASUNDERA

DC Hollen................................................................................................... JOE MARSH

DS Jones.............................................................................................. ANNEIKA ROSE

John McDowell............................................................................ MALCOLM STORRY

Mrs Morgan........................................................................................... JUNE WATSON

Mrs Kenworth.............................................................................................. JILL BAKER

Melissa Stephens.............................................................................. EMMA POLLARD

Mrs Stephens......................................................................................... SIAN WEBBER

Young Anthony Duffy............................................................................... JACK RYAN

Michael Parks..................................................................................... ANGUS WRIGHT

Edmund Radcliff................................................................ NICHOLAS LE PREVOST

Doorman............................................................................................... TERRY O'NEILL

Transvestite Singer....................................................................... SIMON BUTTERISS

Chat Show Hostess................................................................... DEBORAH WESTON

Make-up Artiste.................................................................................. CELIA WILLIAMS

Actress............................................................................................... EUNICE FREITAS

Kathleen Keegan.............................................................................. LINDZI GERMAIN

Lillian Duffy....................................................................................... DEBORAH RYAN

Beryl Villiers........................................................................................ ANNIE COOPER

Barbara Whittle......................................................................... SUSIE ANN WATKINS

Teresa Boot.................................................................................. ANNETTE BENTLEY

Sandra Donaldson................................................................... LESLEY ANNE WEBB

Mary Murphy.......................................................................................... AMY BAYLESS

Crew

Writer & Executive Producer.............................................................. Lynda La Plante

Producer............................................................................................... Jolyon Symonds

Director............................................................................................ Christopher Menaul

Executive Producer.................................................................................... Liz Thorburn

Production Designer................................................................................ Stuart Walker

Costume Designer................................................................................ Joanna Eatwell

Source: ITV official press-kit
Date: November 7, 2008

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