Made at the height of Helen Mirren’s Prime Suspect popularity Painted Lady is a complex, intriguing and entertaining two part thriller that moves from the Irish countryside to the art galleries of New York.
Mirren plays Maggie Sheridan, a rock singer from the 1960’s who these days is living in part of a run down country estate in rural Ireland owned by Sir Charles Stafford. The mystery begins when a bungled robbery on the estate sees Sir Charles (played by the brilliant Iain Cuthbertson, he’s only actually in the first few scenes) murdered and a priceless painting by Artemisia Gentileschi stolen.
Maggie is highly distressed by the robbery and determines to avenge Sir Charles’s death. Realising the key to the mystery is the highly lucrative but dangerous underworld art trade Maggie poses as a wealthy collector and tries to get to the bottom of things. Meanwhile it seems Sir Charles’s son Sebastian (Iain Glen) has his own reasons for wanting the painting found.
Written by Alan Cubitt, Painted Lady piles on the intrigue and keeps you guessing with its many twists and turns. Mirren is in her element as Sheridan, you could quite easily imagine her as a Joplinesque singer of the hippy era. The rest of the cast is equally strong with roles for the talented Michael Maloney and Lesley Manville as well as a cameo towards the end by Franco Nero.
UK / ITV – Granada – Company / 2×100 minute episodes / Broadcast 7 and 8 December 1997
Writer: Allan Cubitt / Executive Producer: Gub Neal / Producer: Emma Burge / Director: Julian Jarrold
Helen Mirren as Maggie Sheridan
Iain Glen as Sebastian Stafford
Michael Maloney as Oliver Peel
Lesley Manville as Sussanah Peel
Franco Nero as Robert Tassi
Iain Cuthbertson as Sir Charles Stafford
Judi Trott as Young Barbara Stafford
Roland Gift as Eddie Mullen