An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (TV series)

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman is a British television mystery drama series, based upon the 1972 novel of the same name by P.D. James, that starred Helen Baxendale and Annette Crosbie.[1] Two series were produced, each focusing on two separate feature-length dramas, each based in part upon the book of the same name and its 1982 sequel, The Skull Beneath the Skin.[2] These aired on ITV between 24 October 1997 and 16 May 2001, also airing in the United States on PBS as part of their Mystery! series.[3]

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
Based onAn Unsuitable Job for a Woman
by P.D. James
Directed byBen Bolt
John Strickland
David Evans
Mary McMurray
StarringHelen Baxendale
Annette Crosbie
Rosemary Leach
Struan Rodger
ComposerColin Towns
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series2
No. of episodes10 (list of episodes)
Executive producersRebecca Eaton
Stephen Matthews
Douglas Rae
ProducersColin Ludlow
Debbie Shewell
CinematographyDick Dodd
EditorDavid Head
Running time60 minutes (UK; 1997–1998)
120 minutes (UK; 1999–2001)
Production companiesEcosse Films
WGBH Boston
DistributorITV Studios
Original networkITV
Picture format16:9
Audio formatStereo
Original release24 October 1997 (1997-10-24) –
16 May 2001 (2001-05-16)

Baxendale stars as Cordelia Gray, a young, aspiring private detective learning the ropes from her mentor, disgraced ex-policeman Bernie Pryde (Jeff Nuttall). But when Pryde's sudden suicide leaves Cordelia the sole proprietor of his ramshackle agency, she is forced to continue her education on the job. With only Mrs. Sparshott (Annette Crosbie), the agency's longtime secretary and her new assistant on the team, Cordelia finds herself thrust headfirst into unfamiliar waters. The complete series was released on DVD in the United States on 8 January 2008.[4]



Series 1 (1997–1998)Edit

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byBritish air dateUK viewers
1 "Sacrifice: Part 1"Ben BoltWilliam Humble24 October 1997
23 April 1998 (1998-04-23) (PBS)

Guest cast

Cordelia Gray inherits the detective agency she works for, after the death of her boss. Her first case comes when she is hired by Ronald Callender, an eminent scientist, to investigate why his son, Cambridge University student Mark Callender, has committed suicide. She soon discovers the case is more dangerous and complex than it at first appeared.

2"Sacrifice: Part 2"Ben BoltWilliam Humble31 October 1997
30 April 1998 (1998-04-30) (PBS)
Cordelia moves into the summer house where Mark Callender was found hanged, and finds herself threatened. Mark's friends also seem determined to deflect her investigation into his suicide. Cordelia then discovers that Ronald stands to benefit from his son's death.
3"Sacrifice: Part 3"Ben BoltWilliam Humble7 November 1997
7 May 1998 (1998-05-07) (PBS)
Cordelia uncovers the mysterious circumstances relating to the discovery of Mark's body. As she gets closer to the truth, there is a further twist as the investigation ends in nightmarish fashion.
4 "A Last Embrace: Part 1"John StricklandWilliam Humble19 February 1998
14 May 1998 (1998-05-14) (PBS)

Guest cast

Cordelia goes undercover as a holiday relief at the Claircourt Park Hotel when the proprietor is accused by his wife of sexually harassing female staff. But when she arrives, the woman has disappeared.

5"A Last Embrace: Part 2"John StricklandWilliam Humble26 February 1998
21 May 1998 (1998-05-21) (PBS)
Cordelia is upset and unsure whom to trust after events at the hotel. The Hampson family is thrown into discord when a murderer strikes.
6"A Last Embrace: Part 3"John StricklandWilliam Humble5 March 1998
28 May 1998 (1998-05-28) (PBS)
Cordelia finds herself conflicted as her investigation moves towards a conclusion.

Series 2 (1999)Edit

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byBritish air dateUK viewers
1 "Living on Risk: Part 1"David EvansChristopher Russell27 August 1999
14 October 1999 (1999-10-14) (PBS)

Guest cast

With the agency struggling, and now pregnant, Cordelia welcomes a seemingly straightforward job. But is the man she is hired to follow a killer or a victim?

2"Living on Risk: Part 2"David EvansChristopher Russell27 August 1999
21 October 1999 (1999-10-21) (PBS)
Cordelia discovers she may have been hired to help commit a crime, not prevent to one.
3 "Playing God: Part 1"Mary McMurrayBarbara Machin28 October 1999 (PBS)
16 May 2001 (2001-05-16) (ITV)

Guest cast

Now heavily pregnant, and facing an uncertain future, Cordelia accepts a job from her an adversary, DCS Fergusson, who hires her to spy on his daughter's boyfriend, Tim Bolton, but then abruptly breaks the job off.

4"Playing God: Part 2"Mary McMurrayBarbara Machin4 November 1999 (PBS)
16 May 2001 (2001-05-16) (ITV)
Cordelia is hired by Tim's daughter, Laura, to resume the investigation.


  1. ^ "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman – Episode Guide". Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  2. ^ "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (an Episode Guide)". Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Cordelia Gray". Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  4. ^ " An Unsuitable Job for a Woman 1 and 2: Helen Baxendale, Mystery: Movies & TV". Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Weekly top 10 programmes". BARB. Retrieved 16 December 2017.

External linksEdit