Video: Prisoner Theme Song: On The Inside by Lynne Hamilton
I read the other day that Foxtel are remaking the Australian TV classic Prisoner (aka Cell Block H in the UK and USA) and calling it Wentworth. WTF? Didn’t Channel Ten try to explore this in the 90’s but failed miserably?
Then I thought about how female actors always bemoan how many meaty roles there are for women in TV and film. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea?
Prisoner did showcase a great range of Australian actors: Maggie Kirkpatrick, Val Lehman, Colette Mann, Sheila Florance, Peta Toppano, Kerry Armstrong, Jane Clifton, Sigrid Thornton, Lynda Stoner, Amanda Muggleton, Paula Duncan, Maurie Fields, Ian Smith (fucking Harold from Neighbours! He also was the Prisoner script editor!), Ray Meagher & Debra Lawrence (Alf & Pippa from Home & Away) and comedian Glenn Robbins (okay, he was just playing a bit part but it sticks out in my mind that he was on Prisoner!).
Where would the 80’s have been without the sadistic ‘The Freak’, top dog ‘Queen’ Bea Smith, the screw ‘Vinegar Tits’, crazy Doreen and lovable Lizzie Birdsworth? These were women with balls! They all did some crazy shit and had some top storylines that kept us engrossed in the goings on at Wentworth Prison for years.
I always knew it was going to be a ripper of an episode when I was told as a young child to leave the room! I would sit outside our lounge room watching the bashings on TV through the gap in our sliding door. The bashings were very entertaining: prisoner v prisoner, prisoner v screw, screw v prisoner, screw v screw. It was better than WWF… or the WWE as they now like to be known in case you mistake them for panda rescuers!
It taught us some valuable lessons about avoiding bitches with laundry presses, running like buggery if you ever see anyone putting on black leather gloves, and knowing what shit to throw in a prison riot (chairs will suffice)! Prisoner also weaved in interesting story lines revolving around feminism, homosexuality, industrial disputes, domestic violence, psychiatric disorders, and recidivism. It was cool telly for it’s time.
The only thing I disliked about the show were the Australian actors putting on posh English accents (which was fairly common on pre-80’s Australian TV).
The new Prisoner guise of Wentworth will actually feature a few great Aussie and New Zealand actors with the excellent Danielle Cormack (Rake, Underbelly Razor, The Cult) as Bea Smith, Catherine McClements (Rush, Water Rats, Tangle) as the Meg Jackson who is now the Governor, Leeanna Walsman (Love is a Four Letter Word, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Underbelly: Badness) as the lawyer, Erica Davidson, and the superb Aaron Jeffery (Underbelly: Badness, Water Rats, McLeod’s Daughters) as screw Matthew Fletcher (did you see his brilliant transformation in Underbelly: Badness as informant Frank ‘Tink’ O’Rourke?).
It is meant to be a remake but they’ve taken their liberties as script writers are known to do. It begins during the early years of Bea’s imprisonment to allow us time to see her rise to become top dog. However, prison warden with a heart Meg Jackson is now the Governor? Methinks they should have got Harold back in to write their script to stick to the fucking timeline properly!
Prisoner was one of the best dramas produced out of Australia. Foxtel has big shoes to fill. They get the chance to fuck it up on 1 May 2013.
Other samples you might enjoy:
- Arrested Development Season 4 – the show features some hilarious prison scenes
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – the shit these folks do is criminal
Who was your favourite cast member of Prisoner?