The series focuses on a no-nonsense female British Detective Chief Inspector (DCI), Jane Tennison (played by Helen Mirren), who is attached to the Metropolitan Police division, which is also known as Scotland Yard. It is set mostly in London and the outer areas, with series 5 being set in Manchester. In later series, she is promoted to Detective Superintendent. The series shows how she survives and thrives in a male-dominated profession. As mentioned in the behind-the-scenes documentary that accompanies "The Final Act" DVD, Jackie Malton, who was one of only four female DCIs at the time this series began, acted as an advisor to the writers.

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