So, this'll be the burds' crime series then? Yes, hot on the heels of those Juliet Bravo and Cagney and Lacey cop dramas came this 1983 hardbitten east end tale of six - yes, you gorrit - widows of mastermind criminals who blew themselves up in a botch bank job, thus leaving the ladies to continue the chaps' sterling illegal way of earning a crust. Their leading philosophy: ''facing life alone, they turned to crime together''. Sheer poetry. Gritty, real social issues and a male to female switcheroo in conventional cop/crime dramas is the key to originality here.

The plot? At Harry Rawlins's (bankrobber now deceased) funeral, his widow Dolly is given a key to a bank vault stuffed with all the info on future bank jobs. Dolly dons the nylons along with the other widows but is pursued by baddy rivals, The Fisher Gang, and Inspector Resnick for the loot. It's a tough ole' game, but some burd's gotta do it, eh?

A sterling cast of big-boned ladies? They had the benefit of BBC high heid yin and EastEnder inventor Verity Lambert as exec producer. Plus Linda Agran and, of course, La Plante as script supremo. Then, of course, Ann Mitchell as Dolly the gang leader. Not to be confused with the cuddly genetic miracle sheep, Dolly was not the sort of woman you'd see round the Clarins cosmetic counter. Strong-minded, scary, and fond of the rapid-fire orders to the gels. Gets a bit too lippy and used to slapping the gels if they get out of order.

Did someone mention film noir? Film buffs with a penchant for the 1950s film noir genre will note a shadowy black-and-white mist haunts much of this six-part series. According to experts ''this was to help give the women more power by evoking memories of films in which women were active and ambitious but finally destroyed by a male writer and producer''. Given the sex of writer and producer I think we can forget the last bit.

Typical lingo: From the Dennis Waterman services to the Queen's English for the most part. Contemplating doing a job in nylons and balaclavas, head honcho Dolly dispenses sage words: ''If they suss you're a woman, forget it luv! On a fellow Widow spotting Dolly: ''Bleeding 'ell. Lana Turner is alive and well and livin' in St John's Wood.'' Nice!

They went on to conquer TV-land? Sadly not in the case of Eva Mottley, who played Bella O'Reilly, part-time prostitute/exotic dancer and erstwhile bankrobber. Despite a claim to fame of having a two-year affair with David Bowie, fate was unkind to Mottley. In later years she was sent to prison for possession of LSD and committed suicide at the age of 31 on Valentine's Day, 1985. On a happier note, writer Lynda La Plante went on to fame and fortune with Prime Suspect, now residing in crime-ridden Los Angeles. Ann Mitchell graced the Citizens' Theatre stage many a time. Comedy dames Frenchy and Saunders created their own homage to widows in a sketch featuring the cast of Lynda La Plante, Helen Mirren, and Ann Mitchell fighting over the Dolly role.