mon 29/11/2021

Wormwood Scrubs, ITV1 | reviews, news & interviews

Wormwood Scrubs, ITV1

Wormwood Scrubs, ITV1

Does prison work? As a documentary, yes

'It’s a thankless task cuffing and lugging miscreants from cell to cell'
Last night in Wormwood Scrubs a prisoner hanged himself. Successfully. A doctor confirmed “that life is now non-existent”. Later on the same wing it happened again, only this time the suicide attempt didn't come off. For many years it has felt as if the great tradition of television documentary is now non-existent. Programmes like this give you hope that, like that second man on a wire in D Wing, it might just pull through.
Last night in Wormwood Scrubs a prisoner hanged himself. Successfully. A doctor confirmed “that life is now non-existent”. Later on the same wing it happened again, only this time the suicide attempt didn't come off. For many years it has felt as if the great tradition of television documentary is now non-existent. Programmes like this give you hope that, like that second man on a wire in D Wing, it might just pull through.

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With respect, I think you have had a memory (or research) malfunction, because I can remember quite a few TV documentaries about prison. There was a daytime programme transmitted live from two different prisons on BBC1a few years ago, and there has definitely been a programme or series about Holloway in the last few years, and there have been others. I was working in Wormwood Scrubs in 1990 when Channel 4 featured the Scrubs in a series called As It Happens. This series would take a particular workplace or institution a week, and broadcast live for an hour a day, Monday to Friday. (In the case of the Scrubs they had to video on one day and broadcast the next - as security issues made it too risky to transmit live.) Andy Kershaw was the well-chosen front-man - going all round the prison talking to staff and prisoners alike in with a friendly down-to-earth manner. Having worked in prisons for 20 years, I know that your comment about "a place where crushing boredom rules" is spot on, and although the incidents in this programme obviously did take place, it gave an over-dramatic, sensationalised view of prison life. In contrast, As It Happens had time for everyday life to unfold, and it had a very different tone to Monday's documentary. Also, it gave the chance for some TV naturals to shine out, but there was certainly no time to sculp narratives in the edit suite (well put - I so abhor this in many docusoaps). I can never claim to have lived inside the experience of a prisoner - of course - (and have never worked in a women's prison) but having walked wings and sat in cells, and talked to every kind of prisoner for years, I'd say there's a lot more of TV's "Porridge" about prison than many people might think - particularly in the very recognisable characters, and the way staff and prisoners interact day-to-day. I just caught moments and characters like this in between the panic and dramas shown the other night. If As It Happens is hanging around in some archive, I do commend it. And if I - or one or more programmes - had more time to kill, as you said, you would certainly get to understand that working in prison is far, far from being a thankless task.

If this was a true account of prison life and I am told it is, why was there no mention of the Independent Monitoring Board? A member of this organisation has to be present at adjudications (or checks up on them very soon after). It is a legal requirement for a prison to have one of these Boards without which the prison cannot operate. These Boards are made up entirely of volunteers and generally when we see news items about reports by prison inspectors they are using the reports prepared by the IMBs. Members of the IMBs constantly monitor that prisoners and staff are treated fairly and in accordance with rules yet they never get any mention - why is this?

why haven't they put it on tv catch up??? a friend of mine is in wormwood. i saw part 1 but missed the second part. why is it only the programs i wana watch that are never on catch up?? where can i watch part 2???

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