Jackie Malton returns to the world of crime-solving in 'The Real Prime Suspect'
Jackie Malton is the inspiration behind Lynda La Plante’s crime drama hit series, "Prime Suspect", with Helen Mirren cast as DCI Jane Tennison.
A retired Scotland Yard Detective, who also happened to have been one of the first female members of the Flying Squad, Malton gives viewers a glimpse into the real world of crime solving in the CBS Justice series, "The Real Prime Suspect", which returns for a second season.
In a recent interview with Malton, she admitted: “In 1991, I never realized the impact that 'Prime Suspect' would have, in terms of drama and on the world, so I was just helping a writer with a TV series and telling her my tips.
"I didn’t realise it would be so massive until after the programme went out and that people would still be talking about it nearly 30 years later.
"That impact is amazing and, of course, it changed my own life which I’m grateful for, but I think it also changed attitudes to policing. It was authentic and the police kind of upped their game, so it was a win-win.”
At the time, she was happy to help La Plante craft an authentic lead character not realising how her input would help the character and show would take on a life of its own. When that happened, she also found herself in the spotlight.
When it comes to being in front of the camera, Malton is fairly comfortable with it.
She revealed: “I had done a programme looking into serial killers with Monster Films, the production company, and unbeknownst to me they had sent a clip of me to CBS Reality.”
Not long after, the idea for this show was pitched.
She laughed: “I said, ‘I don’t know, I think I’m a bit too old for this’, but they said I was like an English version of Judge Judy and that was very appealing to my ego!”
On the cases that proved to be rather tricky to solve this season, Malton admitted: “The most difficult one that I struggled with mentally was the serial killers Fred and Rose West. I interviewed Professor Bernard Knight, the pathologist, and every time a bone was discovered in the basement or the back garden he had to be called out and he was sinking in the garden because of the mud and also the mud was mixed with sewage, because the river wasn’t far away.
“It was like a grid in the back garden – there was one little hole with one body, then another little hole with another – and they were all dismembered and he said it was just a whole mess that he was constantly sinking into and they’d have to pull him out.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, Rose West was equally as abhorrent as Fred West – they call it ‘the madness of two’ don’t they?
"What they did was target young girls who were already products of the care system or had run away from home and were already vulnerable and they’d suck them in to this sense of security by saying, ‘Come to us, we understand you, you’ve got a home here, we’ll look after you’.
"So they’d get sucked in to this false sense of security and be abused and killed. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
On the ratio of solid detective work versus gut-instinct, she offered: “That’s a really, really interesting question. There’s a lot of gut work, which you cannot ignore, but you have to find evidence to support that. You have to have a balance of saying, ‘Let’s explore my gut instinct, but don’t get obsessed by it, don’t go down a one-way street with it, but let’s have a little look at it’.”
Before our time was up, I asked Malton if there is a cold case that haunts her.
She confirmed: “The one that really haunts me is of a little boy called Vishal Mehrotra who was only eight when he went missing on the day of Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding in 1981.
"His father was a solicitor and they had a nanny who was taking the children to the sweet shop but he said he didn’t want any sweets, so she took his little sister into the sweet shop and she saw him cross the road to walk to his home which wasn’t very far.
"The streets were deserted – it’s a bit like now, with the virus – and this boy was just whipped off the street. No witnesses, nothing. His body was found six months later in Sussex in a shallow grave. What happened to that little boy does haunt me.”
"The Real Prime Suspect"season 2 airs on CBS Justice (DStv channel 170) on Sunday May 3 at 8pm.