Widows (ITV Crime, Ann Mitchell, Maureen O’Farrell)

A trio of crime drama series comprising Widows, Widows 2 and She’s Out, this hard hitting drama had crook’s wife Dolly Rawlins (Ann Mitchell) learning that her husband’s last job (robbing a security van) has gone wrong and he has been apparently killed along with most of his gang. Dolly takes the step of recruiting the wives of her husband’s gang into taking on the job themselves, this they do, learning the ins and outs of the criminal world as they do. They pull off the crime but recriminations look like spoiling things.

Widows 2 (which followed 2 years later) saw the girls in a desperate struggle to hold onto their ill gotten gains whilst the third serial She’s Out (after a gap of ten years) had Dolly Rawlins coming out of prison determined to get revenge on the people who put her there. Without giving too much away there was a surprise in store for Dolly concerning her husband.

The opener six parter is a truly classic slice of crime drama, tense, exciting and hard hitting, quite rightly marking Lynda La Plante (aka former actress Lynda Marshall) out as a major talent. A sequel was inevitable and maybe lacked a little bit of bite because we knew what to expect but was still highly watchable. Actress Eva Mottley who Bella in the first serial had sadly died and her role was taken by Debby Bishop for this second serial.

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It was ten years before we saw more of Dolly Rawlins when she returned in the six parter She’s Out, this was a quite different kettle of fish with a mostly new cast. In 2002 there was an American version of the original serial which changed things considerably, especially the central robbery which was now a painting heist instead of an armed robbery and then there was another US movie version of the original serial.

Cast: ANN MITCHELL as Dolly Rawlins; MAUREEN O’FARRELL as Linda Pirelli; FIONA HENDLEY as Shirley Miller; EVA MOTTLEY as Bella O’Reilly(Widows); DEBBY BISHOP as Bella O’Reilly(Widows); KATE WILLIAMS as Audrey Withey; MAURICE O’CONNELL as Harry Rawlins; DAVID CALDER as Det Insp Resnick; PAUL JESSON as Det Sgt Fuller; PETER MACHIN as DC Andrews; DUDLEY SUTTON as Boxer Davis; THELMA WHITELEY as Kathleen Resnick; CATHERINE NEILSON as Trudie; JEFFREY CHISWICK as Arnie Fisher; CHRIS ELLISON as Tony Fisher; STEPHEN YARDLEY as Vic Morgan (Widows II); ANDREW KAZAMIA as Micky Tesco (Widows II)

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SHE’S OUT EXTRA CAST: LINDA MARLOWE as Ester Freeman; MAUREEN SWEENEY as Gloria Radford; ANNA PATRICK as Julia Lawson; ZOE HEYES as Connie Stephens; INDRA OVE as Angela Dunn; MAGGIE McCARTHY as Kathleen O’Reilly; ADRIAN RAWLINS as DS Mike Withy; HUGH QUARSHIE as DCI Ron Craigh; DOUGLAS McFERRAN as DS John Palmer

Writer: Lynda La Plante / Producers: Linda Agran, Irving Teitelbaum

UK / ITV Network – Thames – Euston / 18×60 minute episodes / 1983/85 and 1995

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.