Born and raised in Liverpool, La Plante trained for the stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), where her fellow students included Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt and Ian McShane.
After finishing her studies, she began her career as an actress appearing with the Royal Shakespeare Company in a variety of productions, as well as popular television series including Z-Cars, The Sweeney, The Professionals, Bergerac and Rentaghost.
The first novels and screenplays
Whilst filming The Gentle Touch with Gill Gascoigne, La Plante wrote a treatment for a TV series based on a botched bank robbery. Widows was commissioned by Verity Lambert of Euston Films for Thames Television. It became one of the highest rating series of the early 1980s.
Following the overwhelming success of Widows, La Plante became a sought-after crime writer and subsequently signed her first book deal with Pan MacMillan. Her debut novel, The Legacy, was published in 1987 and received both critical and best-seller success. Her second, third and fourth novels came soon after – The Talisman (1987), Bella Mafia (1990) and Entwined (1993) – all of which became international best sellers.
In 1990 La Plante started working on her next television project, Prime Suspect, which was released by Granada in 1991. Prime Suspect starred Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison, airing in the UK as well as on PBS in the United States. In 1993 La Plante won an Edgar Allen Poe Writer’s Award for her work on the series. She also received the Dennis Potter Award from BAFTA and was made a fellow of the British Film Institute.
In 1993 La Plante formed her own television production company, wrote and produced high-rating series The Governor (ITV), Supply and Demand, Killer Net (Channel 4), Mind Games (ITV) and acclaimed series Trial and Retribution and The Commander (ITV). During this period La Plante also released the Cold series of books – Cold Shoulder, Cold Blood and Cold Heart, followed by Sleeping Cruelty (2000).
In the United States La Plante co-wrote and was executive producer of The Prosecutors (1996 NBC) alongside Tom Fontana (starring Stockard Channing). La Plante was also executive producer of Bella Mafia (1998 CBS), starring Vanessa Redgrave, which she adapted from her novel of the same name. In 2001, she co-produced The Warden (TNT), starring Ally Sheedy (a changed format of La Plante’s series The Governor) along with her adaptation of UK hit Widows (2002 ABC). La Plante also produced the pilot (based on her Cold series) of Cold Shoulder (2006 New Regency/CBS), starring Kelly McGillis, and executive produced Daniel Petrie Jnr’s adaptation of her show Framed (2002 TNT) which starred Sam Neill and Rob Lowe.
In 2002, after completing the novel Royal Flush (2002), La Plante moved to Simon & Schuster UK. Here she began working on her Anna Travis series, which includes Above Suspicion (2004), The Red Dahlia (2005), Clean Cut (2007), Deadly Intent (2008), Silent Scream (2009), Blind Fury (2010), Blood Line (2011), Backlash (2012) and Wrongful Death (2013). So successful were the books that a UK television series was written and produced by La Plante for ITV starring Kelly Reilly and Ciarán Hinds. Twisted (2014) continues La Plante’s run of internationally acclaimed bestsellers.
Lynda La Plante was made a CBE (2008) for services to Literature, Drama and Charity. She is a member of The Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame and is the only lay person to be made a fellow of The Forensic Science Society.
She lives in London and New York with her son Lorcan and Cockapoo Max.
Listen to Lynda’s appearance on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs – from 1995.