Episode 1 - Val McDermid, Kate Harwood and Sarah Hilary

How has the representation of female crime fighters changed over the years?

Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and Kate Harwood in the studio

Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and Kate Harwood in the studio

In the very first episode of A Stab In The Dark, Mark Billingham opens an investigation into how the representation of female crime-fighters has changed over the years.

Joining Mark in the UKTV studio we have best-selling author and 'queen of crime' Val McDermid, and acclaimed television drama producer Kate Harwood to discuss how the role of female crime-fighters has changed over the years, including everything from Sally Wainwright and Happy Valley to Emilia Fox and Silent Witness.

Most people will know Val from the TV adaptation of Wire In The Blood starring Robson Green, but Val also has a successful string of books including the Lindsay Gordon and Kate Brannigan series, as well Inspector Karen Pirie, the subject of her most recent novel Out Of Bounds.

As Head Of Drama at the BBC, Kate oversaw the productions of Waking The Dead and Luther, and is now Managing Director of Freemantle's Euston Films, which is known for classic crime dramas Special Branch and The Sweeney.

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A Stab in the Dark's roving reporter and man with the spy-glass Paul Hirons heads out to interview author Sarah Hilary about her character, DI Marnie Rome, and goes on to further discuss the term 'a strong female character'. Can Sarah offer up some words of wisdom to help Paul combat his pet peeve?

Guest Recommendations

Each week we ask our guests to bring with them a recommendation for a good read and a good watch, linked to the theme of the episode.

Val described her recommendation, Sara Paretsky's Indemnity Only, as taking 'the female detective into the modern world' and follows that up by recommending television series Scott & Bailey and Happy Valley. Meanwhile, Kate went for Tana French's The Trespasser, with a notable mention for upcoming author Emma Kavanagh's The Missing Hours, and chose Broadchurch and Line of Duty as her ones to watch.