Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
La Plante, Lynda (1943-)

Actor, Screenwriter, Producer, Executive

Main image of La Plante, Lynda (1943-)

After starting out as a RADA-trained actress under the name Lynda Marchal in 1969, with television roles ranging from drama to comedy, she moved easily into a screenwriting career as Lynda La Plante.

Her first script for television was the woman's point-of-view six-part crime drama Widows (ITV, 1983), in which four women carry out their late husbands' planned armoured-car robbery. The success of this tough crime caper placed her firmly in the TV thriller writers' landscape. She was perhaps the first female British television crime writer, joining the male-dominated ranks of such TV "tough guy" writers as Ian Kennedy Martin, Troy Kennedy Martin, and Ranald Graham.

In the years following the highly popular Widows, La Plante became one of British television's most sought-after writers of crime/underworld-themed drama. With her incredibly prolific output of well-researched, multi-part 'mean streets' thrillers - with the narrative observed from an astute woman's angle - La Plante has broadened the scope of the television crime/mystery genre.

Her prestige as a TV writer was assured when she created DCI Jane Tennison for the psychological police drama Prime Suspect (ITV, 1991), introducing one of British TV's most memorable characters of the 1990s (enhanced through a no-nonsense performance by Helen Mirren).

In 1994 she created her television company La Plante Productions and under that aegis wrote and produced the sequel to Widows, the equally gutsy She's Out (ITV, 1995). Her output continued with The Governor (ITV, 1995-96), a series focusing on the female governor of a high security prison, and was followed by a string of ratings-pulling miniseries: the psycho-killer nightmare events of Trial and Retribution (ITV, 1997-), the undercover police unit operations of Supply and Demand (ITV, 1998), and the female criminal profiler cases of Mind Games (ITV, 2001).

La Plante's crime-writing know-how appears to have all the indications of projecting her into a successful big-screen genre writer, alongside her growing popularity as a genre novelist.

Studio Autumn 1984.
Television Aug 1993, p.10-11.
Television Today May 1991, p.23.
Televisual Jan 1995, p.22-24.
TV Guide 15 Nov 1997, p.4.

Tise Vahimagi

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Draughtsman's Contract, The (1982)Draughtsman's Contract, The (1982)

Peter Greenaway's typically idiosyncratic breakthrough film

Thumbnail image of Crown Court (1972-84)Crown Court (1972-84)

Long-running afternoon court room drama series with a real-life jury

Thumbnail image of Educating Marmalade/ Danger: Marmalade at Work (1982-84)Educating Marmalade/ Danger: Marmalade at Work (1982-84)

Children's comedy series about the world's worst-behaved girl

Thumbnail image of Prime Suspect (1991-2006)Prime Suspect (1991-2006)

A female detective confronts tough cases and prejudiced colleagues

Thumbnail image of Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (1980)Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (1980)

Starry mystery that launched a spate of 1980s Agatha Christie adaptations

Thumbnail image of Widows (1983-85)Widows (1983-85)

Lynda La Plante's groundbreaking female-led heist drama

Related collections

Thumbnail image of Made in LiverpoolLiverpool: Made in Liverpool

Commerce and culture

Related people and organisations