Jackie Malton is back with new cases in The Real Prime Suspect S2


Jackie Malton talks about The Real Prime Suspect

True crime buffs, it’s time to welcome back retired Scotland Yard detective Jackie Malton, host of The Real Prime Suspect and the inspiration for the character of DCI Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) in the Prime Suspect TV series written by Lynda La Plante.

During her career, Jackie worked on tough, racially charged cases like the 1981 Deptford Fire and the Brixton Riots. And she later became the only female officer out of around 40 Flying Squad detectives, climbing the ranks until she became Hammersmith’s Detective Chief Inspector and Kensington and Chelsea's Community Liaison Officer.

Now she’s using her contacts in the police and the community, and her keen eye for a case to revisit intriguing cases and discuss them with the detectives and professionals who worked on them first-hand. We can join her on the case as S2 of The Real Prime Suspect starts on CBS Justice (170) on Sunday, 3 May at 20:00.

Among the cases highlighted are two of the UK’s most notorious serial killer couples – Fred and Rosemary West (episode 2), and moors murderers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady (episode 6). It’s a short season of just six episodes as production was halted by the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK. The second part of the season is currently due to air later in 2020.

Interrogation time!

We got on the case to ask Jackie some questions…

Q: What makes The Real Prime Suspect unique?

It’s unique in that it’s an ex-detective talking with other detectives, many of whom are retired, who did some fantastic work on cases before there was widespread access to DNA, CCTV, social media and the like. So it’s really old-school policing. There’s a sense of identification, vis-à-vis one detective talking to another detective, and also the emotional aspect of the detectives being retired now and going back to crime scenes they’d visited 30 or 40 years ago. I wanted to find out how they worked, the impact that the case in question had on them at the time, and the impact it’s had on them subsequently. We explore the fact that many police officers are still affected by these murders in all sorts of ways, and how some of them had continued to be in touch with the victims’ families years later.

Q: What range of cases does the show cover?

There’s a real mix of cases; a number of serial killers and protracted enquiries. It’s a phenomenal range of investigations that I have truly been privileged to talk to ex-detectives and other experts within the criminal field about. The cases have also impacted on pathologists, some of whom have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. It’s been absolutely fascinating.

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Q: What sensitivities did you need to consider when making the show? 

The sensitives are, of course, about the victims’ families. That’s the first criteria in addressing these cases, and it’s about not making them seem salacious or gratifying or exploitative. You can get true-crime shows that are salacious, but that was a no-no for me when I spoke to [production company] Monster Films. Their production team has been absolutely fantastic. It’s about the authenticity of the programme and the integrity of it. I’d worked with them before on the documentary Dark Son: The Hunt For A Serial Killer, so I knew how Monster Films operate. I knew they had integrity, and I knew what they wanted to bring to this series – and sensitivity was top of the list.

Q: You shot the series on location where the crimes took place. How did these elements help shape the production?

It had a massive impact on shaping the production, because when you go back to the locations, you put the crimes in context. For me as an ex-detective going to the crime scenes, with the detectives explaining the crimes in the actual geographical locations, makes everything more vivid.

Q: Were there any particular cases in the series that stuck with you and you have found difficult to shake off? 

Each and every one of them has stuck with me for different reasons. The serial killers cases and the ones where children were involved will always stick with me. They’re all absolutely awful, but if you pushed me to pick one, it’d be where a man killed his wife and nine-month-old baby, it’s a case covered in Season 1 (episode 10, murderer Neil Entwistle). I can’t imagine how anybody could look at a nine-month-old baby and put a gun to them. He was found guilty but denies it to this day.

Q: Which recent TV dramas do you think most accurately depict the inner workings of the police force?

One of my favourites was Scott & Bailey. Happy Valley was a good mixture. But my all-time favourite is Line Of Duty. It doesn’t reflect police procedure exactly, but they earn it and they get away with it! I’m the biggest fan of it.

The Real Prime Suspect S2 (A  the first 6 episodes) starts on Sunday, 3 May on CBS Justice (170) at 20:00.

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