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Stefanie Martini takes on Dame Helen Mirren's role in Prime Suspect 1973

Rising star Stefanie Martini has said she was determined not to "crumble" under the pressure of following in Dame Helen Mirren's footsteps in the Prime Suspect prequel.

The actress plays a young Jane Tennison - the character made famous by Dame Helen - in ITV's Prime Suspect 1973, which charts the rise of the policewoman as she assists in her first murder investigation.

Martini, 26, said: "I didn't think about it as much of a pressure until I started re-watching the Prime Suspects for research and then it kind of slowly dawned on me what a big deal it was.

"But I also think that it's very different.

"I have to see it as a separate thing, appreciate and take what I can from her performance and the research I did on what she did, but then I also have to kind of let that go and treat it as my own interpretation.

"Not crumble under that pressure or see it as something bigger than me."

The six-part crime drama is set in 1970s Hackney, where female police constables are slowly being integrated into the force.

Tennison is 22 and finds herself thrown in at the deep end on her first case, experiencing London's violent criminal ganglands first-hand.

Martini said the costumes from the period made the whole thing feel "really authentic".

"My denim waistcoat is maybe my favourite thing; I really wish I had managed to steal that in some way," she joked.

"But yeah, they're great costumes. I don't get to wear other ones that often, but you know, I quite like that.

"Her work is her passion, she's not interested in fashion or boys or anything like that."

Martini will be joined by The Riot Club's Sam Reid and The Inbetweeners' Blake Harrison, who will play her superiors DCI Len Bradfield and DS Spencer Gibbs.

Dame Helen played Tennison in the original ITV series from 1991 to 2006, a role which won her three TV Baftas.

:: Prime Suspect 1973 starts on Thursday at 9pm on ITV.

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