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An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

MYSTERY!'s Cordelia Gray Proves Sleuthing is Hardly An Unsuitable Job for a Woman -- or a Mother

Smart, strong-willed, fiercely independent, Cordelia Gray is back, with Edith Sparshott by her side, her dedication to the trade never stronger -- and undeterred by her new status as mother-to-be. "We may not look the part," says Edith, "but appearances can be deceiving."

The miniseries' banner title is taken from mystery writer P. D. James's novel of the same name, which introduced Cordelia as 20-something heir to the Pryde Detective Agency. In Sacrifice, Cordelia's first case proves to be more complex -- and more dangerous -- than it initially appeared. She goes undercover for her second investigation (A Last Embrace) -- retained by a wronged wife to expose her husband's infidelities.

In the later stories, written directly for television, Cordelia finds herself juggling work and pregnancy, struggling to keep the agency solvent, while also trying to come to terms with the illness and death of her unborn child's father, a friend she knew briefly in Italy. Her well-meaning, and often over-protective office assistant, Mrs. Sparshott (Annette Crosbie; One Foot in the Grave), insists on taking a more active role in the cases that come their way, devoting herself to the legwork to keep Cordelia off her feet.

Cordelia is relieved to be offered, finally, what she believes is a simple surveillance case in Living on Risk. A caller who identifies himself only as "Foster" hires her to follow a mystery man arriving in London by train, claiming that he is planning to kidnap Foster's nephew. Playing God finds Cordelia heavily pregnant and business so slow that Mrs. Sparshott encourages her to take on the case of a missing dog.

Helen Baxendale, also known to American television audiences as Ross's fiancˇe, Emily, on Friends, was pregnant herself during the shooting of the programs. "I felt lucky and very privileged that my pregnancy was written into the story lines, and that I was able to work all though the pregnancy," she says. Her daughter Nell was born only a few weeks after filming wrapped.

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