TV: Wentworth Prison (Prisoner Cell Block H)

A blast from the past

Back in the early nineties when I was a little girl, I occasionally couldn’t sleep and would turn on my little 12 inch television to see what was on to send me to sleep. I found this programme that just had me hooked. It was definitely not made for me as a young girl, which was reinforced by its timing as around midnight on ITV (back in the days when there were just 4 channels!!!)

I’m talking about that old classic Prisoner Cell Block H.

For those of you who missed this gem of a programme, Prisoner Cell Block H was a drama series about women in Wentworth high security female prison in Australia. It was filmed in Melbourne and aired in Australia, the UK, the US and Canada and even Sweden.

We get to follow how they got there, their life in the prison and what becomes of them afterwards. We also get to follow the staff, their work in the prison and their personal relationships. As you can imagine, being a female prison there were of course the occasional lesbian scene.

In 2012 Australia launched a new series called Wentworth. Prisoner Cell Block H in the modern day. The series took Australia by storm and they’re already making series 2. Wentworth crashes onto UK TVs after a 27 year gap since Prisoner Cell Block H stopped airing on ITV in August on Channel 5 (thankfully with a much more suitable airtime). 

I for one am going to set my TIVO to record this, partly to harp back to those late night viewings, and also out of curiosity to see where they take it in the modern day.

For those who haven’t seen the original Prisoner Cell Block H, currently no-one owns the UK rights so it is unlikely to be shown again, however I am sure if Wentworth Prison takes off that a channel like Dave will suddenly show interest in this gem of a show! In Australia the whole series was shown from the start in 2011 – all 692 episodes.

Wentworth Prison starts on Wednesday 28 August at 10pm on Channel 5.

Characters:

DOREEN ANDERSON played by Shareena Clanton 
Charge: Reckless endangerment 
Sentence: 5 years Served: 2 years

BEA SMITH played by Danielle Cormack 
Charge: Attempted murder Sentence: On remand

ELIZABETH ‘LIZ’ BIRDSWORTH played by Celia Ireland 
Charge: Manslaughter, dangerous driving causing death, driving under the influence 
Sentence: 11 years 
Served: 6 years  

VERA BENNETT played by Kate Atkinson 
Time at Wentworth: 7 years 
Title: Deputy Governor of Wentworth Correctional Centre

MEG JACKSON played by Catherine McClements 
Time at Wentworth: 5 years 
Title: Governor of Wentworth Correctional Centre.

FRANKY DOYLE played by Nicole Da Silva <<<lesbian character!
Charge: Intentionally causing serious injury
Sentence: 7 years
Served: 2 years

JACS HOLT played by Kris McQuade
Charge: Murder
Sentence: 14 years
Served: 7 years 

ERICA DAVIDSON played by Leeanna Walsman
Time at Wentworth: 18 months
Title: Lawyer/Prisoner Advocate

WILL JACKSON played by Robbie Magasiva 
Time at Wentworth: 3 years 
Title: Corrections officer 

MATTHEW ‘FLETCH’ FLETCHER played by Aaron Jeffery 
Time at Wentworth: 5 years 
Title: Corrections officer  

Official website: http://wentworth.sohotv.com.au/