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Program Title
Painted Lady

Episode Title
Part 1

Episode number:
1 2

The shadowy world of the illegal art trade forms the background for this powerful new drama set in Ireland, London & New York. Maggie Sheridan, a down and out blues singer, is taken in by Sir Charles Stafford and his son Sebastian after a failed suicide attempt. She has lived quietly in the lodge of Sir Charles crumbling Irish estate but her fragile, hard-won peace is about to be shattered. Sir Charles is brutally murdered and a valuable sixteenth-century painting is stolen. The painting is one of several lurid and disturbing pictures sent to Sir Charles marking the major events of his life. As soon as the paintings arrived he hid them away and only the old man knew the significance of the gifts, a secret too terrible to share. Sebastian and Maggie find themselves suspects in the case but they believe a violent creditor is behind the crime and that Sebastians life is now in danger. Maggie is convinced that the stolen painting holds the key to Sir Charles death. Alone she enters the murky underworld of illegal art trade, but she is being followed. Who will reach her first--the police, or the ghost from Sir Charles Staffords past...

Original broadcast date

Cast Characters
Helen Mirren Maggie Sheridan
Franco Nero Robert Tassi
Iain Glen Sebastian Stafford
Lesley Manville Susie Peel
Michael Maloney Oliver Peel
Barry Barnes D.S. Fagan
Iain Cuthbertson D.S. Fagan
Michael Liebman Bryan Gavin
John Kavanagh Michael Longley
Roland Gift Eddie Mullen
Peter Gunn Geoff Bentham
Robert Portal Alex
Angus Wright Young Charles Stafford
Rupert Vansittart Henry Fellows
Tony Rohr Landlord
Sam Douglas Nilsson

Executive Producer: Gub Neal
Producer: Emma Burge
Director: Julian Jarrold

PAINTED LADY/Episode 1/Intro by Russell Baker

Maggie Sheridan is an aging child of the '60s. In those days she'd been one of the most famous singers in the glitzy world of rock music -- a sort of Janis Joplin figure.

When we meet her tonight, however, the glory days are far behind.

She hasn't had a hit record in years.

She's used up her youth with too much drinking, too many drugs -- all those excesses that destroy so many who become famous too young.

She's approaching fifty -- unknown to the new generation and forgotten by her own... A long time ago, when her life collapsed, Maggie came close to suicide. The man who saved her was Sir Charles Stafford.

Maggie had been a childhood friend of Sir Charles's son, Sebastian. Because of the family connection, Sir Charles offered her a place to live on his estate in Ireland where she could try to put her life back together. She's been living there for several years when our story opens.

Sir Charles, as you'll see, has a large art collection, but the only picture he seems to care much about is a painting of his wife, now dead.

The role of Maggie Sheridan was written for and is played by Helen Mirren. And it is a considerable change of character for her.

You probably know Helen Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison pursuing murderers in the popular Prime Suspect series. In tonight's story, she could use the help of Jane Tennison. She's about to become involved in murder again. First episode, Painted Lady.

PAINTED LADY/Episode 1/Extro by Russell Baker

The painting Maggie is looking for in that eerie basement should have been destroyed.

Michael Longley thinks it has been.

When his burglary went wrong and turned into murder, Longley wanted to destroy any traces of evidence that might have rubbed off on his hired thieves.

Better to lose a painting worth a fortune than to be charged with murder. Longley is a professional crook. He understands that.

The man who's just murdered Sir Charles is not that smart.

Longley orders him to burn the painting, but what Longley sees burning as he drives away is not the stolen picture, but a worthless pile of newspapers.

The painting is now in the hands of a not very bright young killer. He's an impulsive amateur. And, therefore, deadly dangerous to Maggie Sheridan.

For Mobil Masterpiece Theatre, I'm Russell Baker. Goodnight.

Episode number: 1 2

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