Widows (TV series)


DVD cover of Series One and Two
Created by Lynda La Plante
Starring Ann Mitchell
Fiona Hendley
Maureen O'Farrell
Eva Mottley
Debby Bishop
Maurice O'Connell
David Calder
Kate Williams
Paul Jesson
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 12 (list of episodes)
Running time 50 minutes
Production company(s) Euston Films for Thames Television
Distributor FremantleMedia
Original network ITV
Original release 16 March 1983 (1983-03-16) – 8 May 1985 (1985-05-08)

Widows was a British primetime television crime drama that aired in 1983 and 1985, produced by Euston Films for Thames Television and aired on the ITV network. Two six-part series were written by crime writer Lynda La Plante. The executive producer for the series was Verity Lambert.

The haunting music heard at intervals throughout the first series and in the closing credits of the final episode of both series is "What Is Life to Me Without Thee", from the opera L'Orfeo, sung here by Kathleen Ferrier.


Three armed robbers — Harry Rawlins, Terry Miller, and Joe Perelli — are killed during an armed robbery. They are survived by their widows, Dolly Rawlins (Ann Mitchell), Shirley Miller (Fiona Hendley), and Linda Perelli (Maureen O'Farrell). With the police applying pressure, and a rival gang intending to take over Harry Rawlins' crime business, the widows turn to Dolly for leadership.

She uses Harry's famous "ledgers", a cache of books detailing all his robberies over the years, to find the details of the failed robbery, and, enlisting the help of a fourth woman, Bella O'Reilly (Eva Mottley), they resolve to pull off the raid themselves. At the same time, they discover the "fourth man" in the raid escaped—leaving their husbands for dead. Dolly must contend with the police and the gang, as well as her fellow widows, agitating for vengeance.

The first series of Widows concluded with the widows successfully pulling off the raid, and escaping to Rio. In the final scenes, however, they discovered that the "fourth man" was in fact Harry Rawlins (Maurice O'Connell), Dolly's husband.

A second series followed in 1985. This series saw the widows return from Rio to track down Harry Rawlins, revealed at the conclusion of the original Widows to be the surviving "fourth man" from the original raid.[1] Harry is determined to pay back the widows for staging his raid, and the widows have a score to settle with him for running out on their husbands. For this second series, Debby Bishop took over the role of Bella, after Eva Mottley had died from a drugs overdose.[2]

A sequel series, She's Out, set ten years after the events of Widows, was produced in 1995.


Major cast

Supporting cast

Series 1

Series 2

Episode list

Series 1 (1983)

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Episode 1"Lynda La PlanteIan ToyntonTBA16 March 1983
One of Harry Rawlins' robberies goes wrong, resulting in the deaths of three of the robbers. Dolly is given some keys by Harry's cousin Eddie at Harry's funeral. The police begin a search for Harry's ledgers, in which he kept all his notes on past and future robberies, as do the Fisher brothers, who were rivals. Dolly finds the ledgers, along with a gun and money, in a Harry's deposit box at the bank. The police follow Dolly around, but she gives them the slip a few times to meet up with Shirley and Linda, whose husbands also died in the explosion. They decide to carry out the robbery themselves. When Dolly returns home, she finds her house in a mess and someone in the living room.
2"Episode 2"Lynda La PlanteIan ToyntonTBA23 March 1983
Dolly finds Boxer Davis, who is working for the Fisher brothers, in her house when she returns home. Shirley and Linda find cars to use, but neither vehicle seems to be much good. Linda goes to a garage to get it fixed and meets the owner, Carlos, who she begins a relationship with, much to Dolly's disgust. While Linda is at work, she bumps into an old friend, Bella, to whom she tells everything, and subsequently takes her to the headquarters, calling Dolly and Shirley to go there, but it takes a while to persuade Dolly.
3"Episode 3"Lynda La PlanteIan ToyntonTBA30 March 1983
Dolly has told Boxer Davis that Harry is still alive to try to keep the Fisher brothers off their backs. Tony Fisher visits Eddie and tells him what Boxer Davis has been telling them. Later, Eddie visits Boxer and takes him out and gets him drunk, and then leaves him in a back alley - where a mysterious driver runs him down. Dolly, Linda, Bella and Shirley go up to the mountains to practice for the robbery - and an unexpected face returns from the dead.
4"Episode 4"Lynda La PlanteIan ToyntonTBA6 April 1983
The plan gets underway as the vehicles and the strategy are sorted out. Dolly tells Linda about Carlos' relationship with Arnie Fisher, but she doesn't believe it at first. But when she sees Carlos with Arnie Fisher, she tips off the police and they are lying in wait for him the following morning. He makes a run for it, but is killed when he runs into a post van - making Linda feel guilty about calling the police. Detective Inspector Resnick is ordered to drop the investigation and furiously resigns. Dolly gets hold of the details of the security van, and they realise they will have to do it two weeks earlier. Linda and Bella display mistrust of Dolly and Harry turns up at the hideout.
5"Episode 5"Lynda La PlanteIan ToyntonTBA13 April 1983
Linda gets the van for the robbery and the plan is ready to carried out. The following day they carry out the robbery, and everything runs smoothly until Shirley twists her ankle when they are escaping from the scene of the robbery. Dolly later finds Shirley desperately trying to start her car, and takes her to her house. The police suddenly turn up at Dolly's house and take her to the station to identify photographs. Eddie turns up at Dolly's house while she's still with the police, but Shirley attacks him and he breaks Dolly's dog's neck in the struggle. Dolly returns home and is devastated at the death of her dog, but soon realises that they both need to get away as soon as possible, but first she hides the money in the top of the new lockers at the convent. Shirley recognises Eddie on a photograph - and Dolly realises that Harry is still alive.
6"Episode 6"Lynda La PlanteIan ToyntonTBA20 April 1983
Dolly thinks up a plan to get rid of the watch on her house and get them safely out of the country. Shirley phones her mother and gets her to come to the house where Dolly tells her to put on a wig and a coat and drive out in Dolly's car, so that Eddie will follow her. Dolly and Shirley then drive off in Shirley's brother's car to the airport. Shirley asks a man to help her out because she thinks her luggage will be too heavy and gives him the money case. Meanwhile, Harry, Eddie and another man turn up at Dolly's house. While Harry and Eddie go in, the other man beats up D.I. Resnick, who is watching the house from his car. Dolly finds out on the plane that they would search anyone's bags at customs and they have to change their plan. The police arrive and arrest Eddie and the other man, but Harry escapes.

Series 2 (1985)

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Episode 1"Lynda La PlantePaul AnnettTBA3 April 1985
It is six weeks after the robbery and Dolly has returned to England and is awaiting a face-lift. Back in Rio, Shirley is packing to go to Los Angeles and Bella has got engaged. Dolly gets a P.I. to watch Trudie Nunn, who Harry was living with before he left. Harry turns up in Rio to get money from his accounts there, but he finds that Dolly has cleaned out all his accounts. One night, Bella and her fiance take Linda out, but she keeps dropping hints at Bella's past and Bella sends her home. Harry is there and, in fear of her life, Linda tells him everything. Bella returns and runs into Harry and then finds Linda beaten up in the swimming pool.
2"Episode 2"Lynda La PlantePaul AnnettTBA10 April 1985
Linda and Bella have an argument, and it is overheard by Bella's fiance and he hears everything about her past. Dolly receives a letter telling her about Harry, and she rushes to hide the money somewhere else. Harry arranges his return to England, as do Bella, Linda and Shirley. Harry is met by Mickey at the airport, who he tells to follow Linda and Bella. Harry then gets someone to go to them to find out where Dolly is, but he misses Linda and beats up the woman who is staying at Bella's. The widows meet up and decide to tell Harry that they are going to make a deal and give him £60,000 to leave them alone, but they secretly decide to call the police when they have given Harry the money.
3"Episode 3"Lynda La PlantePaul AnnettTBA17 April 1985
Dolly, Bella, Shirley and Linda meet to go over the plan for the handover. Linda makes a dummy to use in her car and Micky fixes it for Shirley to join a modeling company. Shirley's mother tells her that she is pregnant, which takes Shirley's mind off the plan. Linda leaves and gets a gun, which Dolly has ordered her not to do. Dolly phones Harry and tells him where to meet her. When she is about to hand over the money, Linda and Bella arrive late and Harry rushes to leave, running Linda over and killing her. When Dolly finds out that Harry has killed Linda, she goes to his old house with the gun, but he isn't there. The P.I., Vic Morgan, arrives and finds her standing outside with the gun.
4"Episode 4"Lynda La PlantePaul AnnettTBA24 April 1985
Vic Morgan goes to see D.I. Resnick at the hospital and tells him what he has found out so far. Bella tells Shirley that Linda is dead. Dolly and Bella find out that Harry is going to do another robbery when they go to the hideout to look for Dolly's book. Bella rents the lockup next door to keep an eye on how the robbery plan is progressing. Harry and Micky pay a visit to Arnie Fisher and get "permission" to use his club for a party. Morgan visits Dolly and asks her out to lunch and overhears her crying. The police catch up with Sunny, the fence for the money.
5"Episode 5"Lynda La PlantePaul AnnettTBA1 May 1985
The party at the Fishers' club is used by Harry to get people involved in the robbery. The police turn up, but Micky pretends that they were invited to stop them ruining things. Shirley comes face to face with Harry on the stairs in the club. Morgan turns up at Dolly's house and takes her to his boat, which she doesn't like in the least. She ends up getting his coat overboard. Dolly and Bella find out that Shirley is working at Amanda's Night Club and when the robbery will take place. Dolly sends Morgan a new coat and Harry secures the plans for the robbery.
6"Episode 6"Lynda La PlantePaul Annett#REDIRECTTBA8 May 1985
Dolly and Bella go to the lockup and find out that the robbery will be carried out earlier than they thought. They rush to phone the police and race to the club, but they are already there. They go in and hold up the staff and the models and take the jewellery. Shirley gets shot by Micky and he makes a run for it, but Dolly and Bella follow him and he is injured in a collision with a lorry - and is later shot by Harry. Bella leaves the country and Dolly hides the diamonds, but she's also got a surprise in store for Harry.


In 2002, the first series was re-made for the American market, but the plot was significantly changed. Instead of a traditional armed robbery, this version united the three widows and the fourth woman in a plan to steal a famous painting. This version starred Mercedes Ruehl as Dolly Rawlins, Brooke Shields as Shirley Heller, Rosie Perez as Linda Perelli, and N'Bushe Wright as Bella O'Reilly.

DVD release

The complete series of Widows is available on DVD from Fremantle Media.[4]


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