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Check this out for a concept. A prequel, but a prequel that seems to be set several decades after the original series. It’s a headspinner, all right. But then ‘Prisoner Cell Block H’ always did strain at the boundaries of narrative, form, genre and even, dare we say it, credulity. Now, finally, it’s bending time.
In ‘Wentworth Prison’, we’re going to see how ‘Prisoner…’ bruiser Bea Smith became top dog. The nick’s internal dynamics seem to centre around the crystal meth trade which, unless we’re very much mistaken, wasn’t really a thing during Bea’s first TV heyday in the early ’80s. We’d happily forgive these bewildering leaps of narrative faith if the show was as much daft fun as its predecessor.
But sadly, it’s a high-camp dog’s breakfast, even if fans of the original will find much to amuse them in incidental details including a first sight of Lizzie Birdsworth and one prisoner cheering herself up in solitary by singing ‘On the Inside’ (the original ‘Prisoner…’ theme) to herself. Utterly ridiculous, but an extra star for shamelessness…