Anna Lee
LWT 1993 - 1994
Headcase (pilot episode)
TX : 10th January 1993
Director : Colin Bucksey
Script : Andrew Davies

Synopsis : Anna Lee's first assignment at her new job in a private security firm, Brierly Detective Agency, is to find a missing girl, Thea Hahn. A gifted sixteen-year-old, she has been attending a tutorial college in Bloomsbury, prior to going up to Cambridge. Anna looks up one of Thea's tutors, John Tulloch, only to be told by his young son Sam that his father is dead. Back at her flat, Anna's on-off boyfriend Quex has re-appeared. Thea has, in fact, been taken by the police to a hospital in Eastbourne after she was found having a kind of fit outside a shop. Anna is then sent to escort Thea to a nursing home in Richmond as she is still acting very strangely. On the way to Eden House Thea seems to warm to Anna, and tells her she has killed her father. A man's body has been found in a hotel in Eastbourne and Hahn is now concerned that Anna should find out where Thea really was before the police interview her. Hahn confirms that he is Thea's natural father. At the hotel in Eastbourne, Anna finds that the dead man, registered under the name Lovage, has been seen with a girl matching Thea's description. However, one of the staff, Miles, had also seen Lovage dining with a woman in a red dress.

Anna gets changed whilst waiting for the details of the mystery woman, and makes the unpleasant discovery that Miles is a peeping Tom. After a visit to Eden House, where Doctor Frank fills her in on Thea's unstable condition, she flees back to her flat to find Sam downstairs at her friend Selwyn's party. Sam says he did, unsuccessfully, try to go out with Thea, but now he seems quite keen on Anna. She discusses the case with Quex, who isn't having much luck trying to persuade her into bed. He usefully points out that Thea's rantings contain metaphors of sexual violation. Anna's colleague Bernie has had no luck identifying Mr Lovage, but the woman in red is one Mrs Westerman. She tells Anna she was in Eastbourne with the Chairman of her local Conservation Committee, Peter Knight, and maintains that she hadn't known Lovage until she went over and asked to share his table. Anna and Bernie track down Miles and, after a chase, Anna extracts a confession that he found the body and stole the gun and all the effects including two silver-framed photographs. Sam reappears, this time complaining that his grandfather has accused him of stealing two photographs and an old German Pistol. He also reveals that although his father was drowned off the South Coast, his body has never been recovered. Lovage is in fact Sam's father.

Thea has meanwhile cut her wrists after a visit from her father - she still believes she is guilty. Bernie tells Anna that Mrs Westerman, Tulloch and Peter Knight had all sat on the same committee for three years, and when Anna follows her to an assignation with her love, Peter Knight, Mrs Westerman confesses all. She and Knight were having a dirty weekend, when Knight passed out before dinner. Seeing Tulloch also on his own, they confide in each other over dinner. Tulloch is distraught about his relationship with Thea and hints at a suicide pact. Much the worse for wear, they up to his room. When Thea bursts in, Tulloch grabs his pistol and puts it into his mouth. In trying to prevent him the gun goes off and he is killed - Thea is left with the gun in her hands. At Eden House, whilst trying to convince Thea it was not her fault, Anna suddenly realizes that Hahn has been abusing Thea, and that Doctor Frank has been paid to keep quiet about his suspicions. Anna threatens Hahn with exposure if he tries to see Thea again. Brierly reassures a dismayed Anna that not all her jobs will be as bad as this one, and just as things start to look hopeful, Quex announces he's off to Kuwait for six months.

Publicity : Television's newest detective is a young female private eye, played by the excellent Imogen Stubbs. Anna Lee is disheveled, volatile and well able to cope with chauvinist males. In this story she is put on the trail of a missing sixteen-year-old girl and finds herself investigating a murder in a south coast hotel. Viewers may reflect on the implausibility of a private detective doing exactly the same job as the police and the cops apparently standing aside to let her do it. The bigger reservation is that two hours is too long. If this pilot should result in a series, the episodes need to be shorter and crisper. The story has been adapted from Liza Cody's novel by the prolific Andrew Davies. But there is none of the quirky humo
ur of Davies' original screenplays, such as A Very Peculiar Practice. This is a pity, for the show could do with it. (The Times, January 10, 1993).

Cast : Kate Beckinsale (Thea Hahn), Alan Howard (Mr Hahn), Shirley Anne Field (Mrs Westerman), Richard Dempsey (Sam Tulloch) and Peter Guilfoyle (Doctor Frank).

TX : 27th February 1994
Director : Christopher King
Script : Anthony Horowitz

Synopsis : Brierly Security is engaged by a Mr and Mrs Jackson to find their missing daughter, Deirdre. Anna tracks down the girl's ex-boyfriend Simon, who leads her to the wedding video company where Deirdre ("Dee") works. Anna meets Dee who seems self-assured and has no desire to meet her parents. Dee is next found dead in her car. Mr Jackson cannot agree with the police that the cause of death was an accident. Anna believes Dee's former boss Fred Slinger may hold the key to the mystery. She pretends to be a video camera operator and gets a job with Slinger. This brings her into further contact with Simon, who works for a video facility house and also the menacing Leary, who runs a printing firm. Anna's nephew, Matthew, has bough a cheap, pirated video from a market stall. This gives Anna a clue to the mystery - when she sees Leary working on the stall. She discovers that Slinger runs an illegal business, making pirate video copies of feature films. Both Simon and Leary are involved.

Dee had discovered what was going on and was trying to blackmail Slinger. Anna leads the police to Slinger's video duplication plant, and he is arrested. Slinger explains how Dee died. Slinger wanted to frighten Dee to get her off his back. He and Leary cut up her clothes as a warning. Dee panicked and rushed to the video facility to find Simon, but he wasn't there. A struggle on a staircase resulted in Dee falling to her death. Leary put her body in her car and drove off, intending to dump it somewhere. Leary crashed the car and arranged the body to look as if Dee had been driving. The sub-plots involve Stevie working undercover as a waiter at Pizza Express and Bernie trying to market a female "rape alarm" called The Scream Machine. Bernie foists one of these on Anna against her will. After breaking up the video gang, Anna is attacked by Leary in her flat. Anna is able to summon the assistance of Selwyn with the help of The Scream Machine.

Publicity : Anna Lee (ITV, 8:25pm) arrives with the double handicap of an unpromising pilot and having to follow two outstanding crime dramas, A Touch Of Frost and Dandelion Dead. The show's main asset is that bright and intelligent actress, Imogen Stubbs. She has the title role of the tomboyish private detective chasing clues in her eccentric clothes and open-topped sports car. In tonight's episode, Anna infiltrates the seedy milieu of video pirating to track down the killer of a runaway girl. Incredibly, during her investigations, she does not bump into a single policeman. (The Times, February 27, 1994).

Cast : Anthony Newley (Fred Slinger), Eddie O'Connell (Francis Leary), Tony Vogel (Alan Lucas), Walter Sparrow (Alistair Draper), Martin Ball (Simon Lester) and Ceri Jackson (Ros Russell).

TX : 6th March 1994
Director : Peter Barber-Fleming
Script :
Douglas Watkinson

Synopsis : A mysterious figure on a motorbike (Kilshaw) is searching for a man called Eddie Marsham. A man called Thurman commissions Brierly Security also to find Marsham. While Anna searches for Marsham, she is followed by Kilshaw. We see Kilshaw and Thurman together. They are ex-convicts who believe Marsham has money of theirs. Thurman persuades Kilshaw to let Anna do the searching. Meanwhile, Anna develops a relationship with Peter, a vet who is separated from his wife. Peter mourns the loss of his son who was killed in a traffic accident by a drunk-driver, called Perriman. Though banned, Perriman is still apparently driving. Anna tries unsuccessfully to get video evidence of Perriman driving while banned to pass on to the police. Bernie and Stevie take over the case and manage to get Perriman caught in the act. The hunt for Marsham leads to Exmoor. Anna falls for Peter and they go to Exmoor together.

They are both nearly killed by Marhsam, who believes that Anna and Peter are trying to kill him. Anna discovers that Thurman, Marsham and Kilshaw had robbed a mail train ten years previously. Marsham had helped the police in return for a light sentence. Thurman and Kilshaw now want revenge and their share of the money. Marsham explains he handed all the money to the police. Kilshaw follows Anna to Exmoor and tries to kill Marsham but is disarmed and arrested. Anna lays a trap for Thurman, by pretending that Marshall is dead, and helps the police to arrest him shortly before he flees abroad - with Marsham's wife. Anna is saddened when Peter decides to get back together with his wife.

Cast : Michael Attwell (Thurman), Jacquetta May (Carla Wainwright), Peter Firth (Peter Wainwright), Frank Ellis (Bill Hooper), Niven Boyd (Jimmy Kilshaw), David Hunt (Eddie Marsham), Roger Martin (Ken Daniels), Jack Shute (Matthew Daniels), John Warnaby (Alan Perriman) and Ceri Jackson (Ros Russell).

TX : 13th March 1994
Director : Christopher King
Script :
Anthony Horowitz

Synopsis : The Notting Hill Carnival Committee receive notes threatening violence unless the Carnival is cancelled. There is speculation that the man behind the threats is Adrian Wesley, a prominent businessman. Wesley is campaigning for the running of the Carnival to be taken out of the hands of the "do-gooders" and given to his marketing company. Wesley is already a client of Brierly's. He suspects his wife is having an affair and wants proof. Two days before the event a bomb explodes. No one is hurt but the Carnival route has to be changed to avoid the damaged street. Beryl, the secretary at Brierley Security, is kidnapped. Anna tracks down Beryl's kidnappers, but is captured herself. Beryl has been kidnapped in order to exert pressure on her brother who owns a restaurant - which is next door to a bank.

The kidnappers intend to raid the bank by tunnelling through from the restaurant basement. Anna realizes the whole Carnival diversion has been planned in order to send the procession past the bank and restaurant while the robbery is in progress; the noise of the Carnival will muffle the noise of their drilling. Anna and Beryl escape. Beryl alerts the police while Anna rushes towards the restaurant. At the restaurant, one of the robbers (Carlos) shoots the other (Danny) and escapes through a window with the stolen money, but cuts himself badly in the process. Carlos tries to merge with the Carnival crowds, but Anna spots him. A chase through the Carnival crowds ensues, which ends when Carlos is knocked down by a Carnival float driven by Anna's landlord Selwyn. Wesley's wife leaves him and moves in with another woman.

Cast : Jack Shute (Matthew Daniels), Mary Conlon (Jane Vermont), John Bird (Adrian Wesley), Tenniel Evans (Edwin Doyle) and James Bree (Mr Lambda).

The Cook's Tale
TX : 20th March 1994
Director : Christopher King
Script : J E M Brooks

Synopsis : Anna Lee is hired by an old friend, Laura Jones. Anna has to identify the woman who is having an affair with Laura's husband, Dominic. Dominic Jones is a top chef who jointly owns a restaurant with Laura's father. Anna traces the woman - an actress called Mary Vincent. Mary is also the mistress of Laura's father, David Lambert. Dominic shocks Lambert and Laura by announcing he wants to pull out of the restaurant and move to the West Indies to work in a new restaurant owned by an M.P called Mark Fletcher. Laura confronts Mary about her relationship with Dominic. While arguing with Mary, Laura is surprised by the arrival of Fletcher. Laura wonders what the connection between Mary and Fletcher is. Mary is found murdered at Laura and Dominic's house. Laura has disappeared. Anna finds an army badge on the floor. Anna tracks Laura down and learns that Fletcher knew Mary.

Anna talks to Dominic and comes to the conclusion that Fletcher was using Mary to entice Dominic away from his wife and away from the restaurant, to persuade him to work for Fletcher in the West Indies. Dominic publicly accuses Fletcher of involvement in the Mary Vincent murder. Fletcher himself is then murdered, shot with an old army revolver. Anna remembers the army brooch she found and assumes Lambert is the killer, because of his army background. Anna hurries to Laura and Dominic's house to see if the badge is still there. It is, and so is Eva, Lambert's wife and Laura's mother. Eva holds a gun to Anna's head and makes her drive into the country. Eva confesses that she was so incensed that Fletcher and Mary were ruining her family and stealing Dominic away that she killed them both. She now intends to kill Anna. There is a tense struggle in the car before Anna finally disarms Eva. The sub-plot involves Selwyn's attempts to become a restaurant critic for a London magazine.

Cast : Adrian Edmondson (Dominic Jones), Sara Stewart (Lauren Jones), Robert Lang (David Lambert), Ann Bell (Eve Lambert), Clive Francis (Martin Fletcher) and Sarah Alexander (Mary Vincent).

TX : 27th March 1994
Director : Peter Barber-Fleming
Script :
Anthony Horowitz

Synopsis : Dawn Blake, a young pop singer, is found dead. A man called Mike Trevor asks Brierly's to investigate. He claims Dawn's death was not suicide, but murder. He says the man responsible is William Gilmore, the owner of Wreck Records, Dawn's label. Anna initially finds circumstantial evidence to support Trevor's theory. However, the more she knows of Gilmore, the more she liks him. Bernie and Stevie find evidence that seems strongly to implicate Gilmore but Anna refuses to believe it. Brierly accuses her of letting her emotions cloud her judgement and, after a furious row, she resigns. Meanwhile, incriminating evidence against Gilmore has been fed secretly to Martin Mayhew, a vitriolic magazine editor who dislikes Gilmore intensely. Mayhew also obtains Brierly Security's file on Gilmore, with the connivance of Bernie. Bernie desperately needs money to help his son who is in trouble with loan sharks. Gilmore and Anna become close: she is dazzled by him.

On his huge yacht, Gilmore proposes marriage, though Anna turns him down. Mayhew publishes all the allegations against Gilmore in "Street" magazine and causes a sensation. Gilmore is questioned by the police, but has proof of his innocence. He issues a libel writ against "Street" magazine. Anna uncovers a covert connection between Gilmore and Mike Trevor: she realises she has been set up. Gilmore explains to Anna that he and Trevor hired Brierly Security to smear himself. They wanted Mayhew to publish the unfounded allegations that were fed to him, so he (Mayhew) could be completely discredited. Gilmore did this because he was very fond of Dawn Blake. She was driven to suicide by Mayhew's severe criticism of her in "Street" magazine. Mayhew is sacked from his magazine. Anna remains without a job. The sub-plot involves Selwyn's niece, Lucy, a young singer who comes to London from Yorkshire. She is seen by Gilmore who signs her for his label.

Cast : Jessie Birdsall (William Gilmore), Greg Proops (Martin Mayhew), Michael Grandage (Mike Troon), Luciana Caporabo (Lucy) and Charlotte Bicknell (Dawn Blake).

A series which boasted the creative talents of Andrew Davies (A Very Peculiar Practice), Anthony Horowitz (Crime Traveller, Poirot, Foyle's War) and Brian Eastman (Poirot) should have undoubtedly become an overnight success. However, Anna Lee, a short-lived series of one-hundred-minute films concerning a female private detective investigating crimes the police had either given up on or failed to investigate more thoroughly, proved to be anything but successful.

Adapted from the novel by Liz Cody, the series premiered with a pilot episode in January 1993, penned by Davies himself. The production was pedestrian and altogether too long (in terms of running time). Plodding storylines and a weak supporting cast tainted the pilot, yet audience viewing figures were healthy enough for London Weekend Television to commission a further five films in the series. Imogen Stubbs appeared as Anna Lee, a brash, feisty woman with a penchant for getting herself into trouble and criminal sartorial taste. Having become disillusioned with the sexism rife in the police force, she abandoned legitimate investigations to become a private detective.

Her work with the Brierly Detective Agency saw her investigating infidelity, video piracy, murder, blackmail, mayhem and intrigue over the course of the first series, premiering in February 1994. However, the plots proved predictable, the supporting cast were again weak, and audiences drifted away from the series almost immediately. The programme is almost the last attempt British Television made to feature a female private investigator (coming shortly after the BBCs successful Chandler And Company), save Amanda Redman's Beck in the late 1990s. Audiences, fed a steady stream of police procedurals and buddy cop dramas, found the notion of private investigators with complicated personal lives investigating trivial cases somewhat unappealing, and the series was never recommissioned.

, Horowitz and Eastman have since gone from strength to strength, reflecting the fact that one less-than-successful series hardly damages pedigree, yet perhaps if the programme-makers had heeded the timely words of advice by The Times newspaper in reviewing the pilot episode, the series may have become a far stronger production. Commercially exported to the United States and Australia, the series has never been released on VHS or DVD.

Text © Matthew Lee 2004

Portrayed By
Anna Lee
Imogen Stubbs
Selwym Price
Brian Glover
Beryl Doyle (Pilot Episode)
Barbara Leigh-Hunt
Beryl Doyle (Series)
Sonia Graham
Stevie Johnson
Wilbert Johnson
Dennis Bridger
Frank Windsor
Commander Martin Brierly (Pilot Episode)
Michael Bryant
Commander Martin Brierly (Series)
John Rowe
Bernie Schiller (Series)
Peter Wright
Bernie Schiller
Ken Stott

Executive Producer for the pilot episode was Nick Elliott. Executive Producer for the series was Sarah Wilson. The pilot episode and the series was produced by Brian Eastman.
The series was devised and created by Andrew Davies, adapted from the novel by Liza Cody.