"I've always wanted a man in uniform," she joked, calling in a squaddie who was a witness in a rape case . "Yeah, as in 'over the hill'," she continued, confirming her name, "But I'm not, Wayne. You'll be pleasantly surprised. See you later, mate." Convert the terms in her conversation - "woman in uniform", "love" instead of "mate" - and it's surely clear that this would be inappropriate, even outrageous behaviour from a male policeman. This isn't a whinge, incidentally: there are perfectly good cultural reasons why male sexual banter might be threatening in the way that female sexual banter isn't, but it does suggest that the received opinions are a little simplistic. Talking like a man, DI Hill found ways to exploit her femininity - and to disentangle the subtle signals of authority, reassurance and confidence which were implicit in that exchange would take some time.
There were other moments, too, which demonstrated the value of Hill's freedom to take liberties. "I could get round there with David, couldn't I - hold hands," she joked, arranging the seating at a case conference. Later still, she came up behind a male colleague and massaged his shoulders, a gesture which would have looked very different if their positions had been reversed. Apologising to a rape chaperone for asking her to do a menial task she concluded with an amicable "good girl". She hardly needed to defend these little intimacies, as her team of 30 seemed both relaxed and admiring, but had she been asked to, she would presumably have done it in terms very similar to those used by men who find themselves on the end of a harassment charge: "I was just being friendly."
In some cases the opportunities her sex allowed her were more sharply defined still: would a male officer ever feel quite comfortable taking a bunch of flowers to a rape victim? A poster for Prime Suspect 3 featured early on in Olivia Lichtenstein's film, but even by then you were aware that Lynda La Plante's brittle, embattled take on sexual politics in the police force wasn't the only one available. DI Hill's sex undoubtedly brought something valuable to the difficult work she does, but not the least of it was her untrammelled ability to be a good bloke.
Strange Days (BBC2), Catherine Bennett's series on modern superstitions, ended with perhaps her bravest episode: an unstinting assault on the therapy culture and the associated industries of satanic abuse and recovered-memory syndrome. Both, for Bennett, are symptoms of a corrupted profession - a guild of diggers arguing the urgent need for mass mental exhumation. The film was brave because the convinced can sometimes see contradiction not as simple disagreement, but as further evidence of malign conspiracy - if you aren't on the side of good, as they see it, then you must be in league with evil.
Bennett's own conviction might strike even the most sceptical as a little too unyielding at times. It's hardly unlikely, after all, that there are people evil and stupid enough to add the paraphernalia of the occult to their sexual abuse. It would have been useful, too, to have some acknowledgement that some therapists are wise and constructive. But when you hear satanic abuse described as "a wartime atrocity area in peacetime Britain", you understand her urge to concede no ground. Freud, she reminded you, described his ambition as being to convert "hysterical misery into common unhappiness". "It is the achievement of his followers," she concluded, "that therapy can now do the opposite."Reuse content