Prison TX: 19 Jul 2018, Week 29


Filmed over seven months inside HMP Durham, 'Prison' offers unprecedented access to life behind bars. With a rare opportunity to film inside an English prison, the three-part series produced and directed by Paddy Wivell tells the human story on both sides of the door: staff and prisoners, and the real issues facing them.

Durham is a remand centre for the North East of England serving the local courts and prisons. With a vast weekly traffic of prisoners from driving offences to murderers to drug addicts, the prison is faced with ever changing demands, a pressure on bed space and complex prisoner needs. These challenging conditions at Durham offer a good reflection of the national issues currently facing the prison service.

Stepping away from the ‘over the officers’ shoulder’ view of prisoners, the series shows an intimate, human face of prison life. To achieve this Paddy and his team spent a month winning the confidence of staff and prisoners before shooting began.

In a bold move Governor Tim Allen gave the crew the run of the prison so that they could see first-hand the challenges that the prison staff were up against on a day to day basis. These challenges became the themes for the three films in the series: drugs, mental health and violence. Once trained in security and personal safety, the crew were given total freedom of the prison, including their own carefully guarded set of prison keys.

The series captures first-hand the escalating drug problem, the scale of violence that frontline staff and prisoners endure daily and the multiple challenges of dealing with those suffering from mental health issues. By gaining the trust and confidence of prisoners and staff, the crew gained a level of access and emotional honesty never seen before in an English prison documentary – offering a unique insight into why drugs are important to prisoners, how and why violence quickly escalates and why so many prisoners suffer from debilitating mental health problems.

Episode 1 TX: Thursday 19 July at 9pm on Channel 4

Commissioning Editor: Nick Mirsky
Production Company: Spring Films
Series Producer and Director: Paddy Wivell
Assistant Producer: Josh Allott
Shooting Producer: Jack Wood
Executive Producers: Kathy Myers and Richard Melman

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