He Used To Give Me Roses
I Wish He Could Again
But That Was On The Outside
And Things Were Different Then
So went the end tune of Prisoner Cell Block H. I first stumbled over Prisoner Cell Block H in the mid 1980’s when it was shown late at night on Granada TV. As teenage boy I think the lure of Chrissie Latham’s legs drew me in. Part of the skill in watching Prisoner was actually finding when it was on. Tucked away late at night and often post midnight it would sometimes go missing for weeks as Granada had two weeks coverage of The Lada Classic snooker or some other event. Later memories of Prisoner are when I lived with my nan and I would come home half sozzled from the boozer with some chips for us and she would make the bread and butter and we would both settle down to watch it. I am sure she was much happier with me making her watch this than taking the only TV in the house over early on a Sunday afternoon to watch some Football Italia. The run on Granda ended in the mid 90’s and I actually missed the last episode though did know what happened.
So 27th February 1979 (I was 5) and Prisoner premiered in Australia (Named Prisoner Cell Block H in the UK) it ran for 8 series (I dont do seasons) and there were 692 episodes made. Often remembered for its shaky walls and bad acting it became a cult classic over in the UK in the 1990’s. It has even spawned a modern remake called Wentworth which is now going into its 6th series. Deffo couldn’t watch that with my nan as I wouldn’t know where to look when the racey lesbian scenes came on. Well I tell a lie because I would obviously be looking at the television.
Fast forward to around Christmas 2015 and I discovered that all 692 episodes had been uploaded to Youtube. Queue the opening credits and mugshots of the current inmates and an opening scene of an outdoor location shot of Finders Street Railway station in Melbourne and so the marathon begins. Originally only given 16 episodes Prisoner was soon extended but eventually was give parole in July 1986 with time for the writers to give it the ending it deserved. The prison itself was channel 10 studios in Melbourne and most of the action surrounded “Cell block H”
I thought I had seen quite a lot of Prisoner but I knew I had not seen any of the early episodes and jumped into it during its first vintage era with Bea, Doreen and Lizzie alongside the bad “screw” Vera “Vinegar tits” Bennett so it was nice to see how it all started. As I reached through the episodes it soon became clear that I actually had not seen many of the episodes and the old trick of time when you are a child seeming like ages but in fact only a short time. Episodes ending on cliffhangers. A writer friend of mine said to my missus once if a programme ends and you want to find out what happened straight away then its doing its job and Prisoner certainly had many of these with just banging on my iPad to watch an episode turning into a 3 to 4 episode session. Being an old sentimental fool the era mentioned above took me back to being a child and with the aid of modern technology you come across wonders like below and Prisoner in Concert.
TV gold ??? As you would expect with 692 episodes there were peaks and troughs in the series but I battled though with some great cliffhangers like the tunnel escape, a great period with Jock Stewart and Judy Bryant and some belter characters and obviously some that got right on your tits. So as the bad screw Vinegar Tits left it was time to enter Joan Ferguson AKA The Freak who made Vinegar tits look like a saint.
Prisoners cult status in the 1990’s over here lead to stage shows, books and even the theme tune “On The Inside” by Lynne Hamilton reaching number 3 in the singles charts in 1989 (I remember taping it off the charts) As top dogs of the prison came and went only Mrs Morris (Mrs Jackson) lasted the full 692 and apparently one prison inmate extra as well.
So fast forward to me coming home from Berlin the other week and feeling worse for wear I ended up having a mini Prisoner Marathon over that weekend and eventually getting to Episode 692 just over two years after I had started it.
***** 30 year old Spoiler Alert *****
I knew that the last episode was the final defeat of Joan “The Freak” Ferguson and the death of the terminally ill top dog lured her into a trap and picking up some money from a robbery. So Ferguson was now on solitary confinement and a prisoner was brought in to pass The Freak her food. What I wasn’t expecting was the terminally ill top dog Rita Conners was in fact still alive and they had all be in on it to get The Freak. I was very surprised that after 692 episodes it still had a twist I was not aware of. We never did find out if Rita survived or what happened to The Freak and after 692 episodes the closing theme tune played for a last time.
On The Inside The Sun Still Shines
And The Rain Falls Down
But The Sun And Rain Are Prisoners Too
When Morning Comes Around
So at 45 mins an episode 31140 mins or 519 hours or 21.625 days what was I going to to with the gap in my life. Well its back to the new version of Prisoner called Wentworth and all 5 series of that are on Amazon Prime. When I am on my last legs I will think bloody hell can I have them 21.625 days I watched Prisoner Cell Block H back please lord, god or whoever was my maker (Mum & Dad)
So it was a “ripper” rekindling childhood memories watching Prisoner and “Fair Dinkum” to me for doing all 692 episodes. Judging by the comments on the you tube videos people go back and watch them all again and again but once is enough for any sane man and some might call me insane for watching 1 episode never mind 692. No more spotting people who went on to be in Neighbours or Home and Away no more he used to give me roses. It’s all over “You Beauty”
So for the record
Fave Character : Lizzie Birdsworth
Fave Top Dog : Myra Desmond
Fave Prison Officer : Jim Fletcher
Best Other character : Inspector Grace
Best Storyline : Believe it or not too many to mention !!
Best Scene : Final Episode Rita giving The Freak her food
Fay x x x x x x x x x