First episode date 1 May 2013
Composer(s) Richard Pleasance
Networks Foxtel, SoHo
|Also known as Wentworth Prison (UK & Ireland)|
Created by Lara RadulovichDavid HannamReg Watson
Starring Danielle CormackNicole da SilvaPamela Rabe Kate Atkinson Celia IrelandShareena ClantonKatrina MilosevicRobbie J. MagasivaAaron C. JefferyTammy MacIntoshKate JenkinsonSocratis OttoSigrid ThorntonBernard CurryLeeanna WalsmanKris McQuadeCatherine McClements
Opening theme "You Don't Know Me"(Season 2–present)
Awards Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actress
Cast Danielle Cormack, Nicole da Silva, Pamela Rabe, Kate Atkinson, Celia Ireland
Wentworth is an Australian television drama series. It was first broadcast on SoHo on 1 May 2013. The series serves as a contemporary reimagining of Prisoner, which ran on Network Ten from 1979 to 1986. Lara Radulovich and David Hannam developed Wentworth from Reg Watson's original concept. The series is set in the modern day and begins with Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack)'s early days in prison.
- Wentworth theme song
- Home media
For the first three seasons, Wentworth was filmed on purpose-built sets in the suburbs of Clayton, Victoria. Production moved to Newport, Victoria starting with the fourth season. The show has received a mostly positive reception from critics, and the first episode became the most watched Australian drama series premiere in Foxtel history. The series was picked up by several countries, including New Zealand and the UK, where it has been retitled Wentworth Prison. A fifth season was commissioned on 19 July 2016 to begin 4 April 2017.
Wentworth theme song
Wentworth is set in modern-day Australia and focuses on Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) when she first enters prison after being charged with the attempted murder of her husband. Bea is separated from her daughter and sent to Wentworth on remand, where she lives in "an uncertain limbo" until she is sentenced. Starting at the bottom of Wentworth's hierarchy, Bea is forced to learn how to survive in prison.
In March 2012, it was announced that a contemporary re-imagining of Prisoner had been commissioned by Foxtel. Brian Walsh, the executive director of television at Foxtel, stated that Wentworth would not be a remake of Prisoner, which ran for 692 episodes on Network Ten from 1979 to 1986. He continued: "Wentworth will be a dynamic and very confronting drama series, developed and stylised specifically for subscription television audiences. We have told producers to push all boundaries and honestly depict life on the inside as it is in 2012." Lara Radulovich and David Hannam have developed Wentworth from Reg Watson's original concept. FremantleMedia and director of drama Jo Porter will produce Wentworth. The first episode, and several subsequent episodes, were written by Pete McTighe. Television critic Michael Idato acted as series consultant and Kerry Tucker acted as consultant on authenticity.
Porter commented that the series would explore "the politics of women in a world with few men, and how the experience both challenges and changes them, sometimes for the better." Wentworth is set in the modern-day and centres on Bea Smith's early days in prison. The storylines include a mix of original inmates and staff from Prisoner with characters developed especially for Wentworth. Foxtel told a reporter from The Sydney Morning Herald that the original characters from Prisoner would be a contemporary interpretation in the new series. It was initially reported that none of the original cast from Prisoner would appear in the first season of Wentworth, however Anne Charleston, who had a number of small roles in the original series, made a cameo appearance as Liz Birdsworth's mother-in-law, also Alex Menglet and Gloria Ajenstat who played Ray Proctor and Tammy Fisher in the original series will have guest roles in the new series. Foxtel revealed that the producers were looking at how they might incorporate the Prisoner theme tune, "On The Inside", into the new series.
On 5 June 2013, it was confirmed that Wentworth had been renewed for a second season. A reporter for the Australian Associated Press said production would begin later in the year, and the season would air in 2014. Porter stated: "We have assembled an extraordinary team of writers who can't wait to get started on series two. We have so many more stories to tell." In January 2014, it was announced that a third season of Wentworth had been ordered, before the second had aired. In a similar manner, a 12-episode fourth season was announced before the airing of the third season on 27 February 2015. It began airing from 10 May 2016. Cormack confirmed a fifth season had been commissioned on 19 July. The twelve-part series will air in 2017.
On 4 October 2012, a reporter for The West Australian revealed that Celia Ireland and Kate Atkinson had joined the cast of Wentworth, while Shareena Clanton would make her acting debut as Doreen Anderson. Danielle Cormack was cast in the role of Beatrice "Queen Bea" Smith and she stated "I am absolutely rapt to be part of the reboot of such an iconic drama. Prisoner left an indelible mark on fans and I really hope that the re-imagining of this series will be just as popular with viewers now as it was back then." Actors Robbie Magasiva and Aaron Jeffery play corrections officers in the detention centre. David Knox from TV Tonight revealed that Nicole da Silva, Kris McQuade, Catherine McClements and Leeanna Walsman had also joined the cast.
Following the end of the first season, it was revealed that iconic Prisoner character Joan "The Freak" Ferguson, a sadistic, lesbian prison officer, would be introduced in the second season. Porter commented "Prisoner offered up a very rich well of amazing characters to draw upon and the Wentworth writers are very excited about revisiting the character of prison officer Joan 'The Freak' Ferguson in our second season." Erin McWhirter from TV Week reported that former All Saints actress Tammy MacIntosh was one actress rumoured to have been offered the role. On 21 September 2013, it was confirmed that Pamela Rabe had been cast as "The Freak". McQuade, McClements and Walsman did not reprise their respective roles of Jacs Holt, Meg Jackson and Erica Davidson for the second season. Katrina Milosevic, who portrays Boomer Jenkins, was upgraded to the main cast.
Actresses Pia Miranda, Libby Tanner and Tammy MacIntosh joined the cast from the third season as inmate Jodie Spiteri, psychologist Bridget Westfall and vigilante Karen Proctor respectively. Sigrid Thornton, who played Ros Coulson on Prisoner, will be joining the cast for season four. She will not be reprising her former role, but will play another Prisoner based character Sonia Stevens. In November 2015, Kate Jenkinson and Bernard Curry were announced to be appearing in the show as Allie Novak, an inmate, and Jake Stewart, a correctional officer, respectively.
Foxtel confirmed that Wentworth would not be shot at the studios in Nunawading, Victoria where Prisoner was filmed. Wentworth was instead filmed on a purpose built set in the suburb of Clayton. The shoot employed 300 cast and crew. The ten-part season began filming for four months from 10 October 2012. Wentworth began airing on Foxtel's SoHo channel from 1 May 2013. Filming for the second season began on 23 September 2013 and wrapped on 13 February 2014. The second season began airing on 20 May 2014. Production for the third season resumed in March and filming was completed in late July. In the same month, it was announced that the property in which Wentworth was filmed had been sold, and the set would be knocked down. A new alternative was being sought and a TV Week reporter commented that it was unclear if the loss of the set would be written into future storylines. The third season began airing on 7 April 2015. Production on the fourth season began in the second half of 2015. The fifth season was filmed in Melbourne from August 2016, and will air from 4 April 2017.
Wentworth has been sold to more than 90 countries. On 2 April 2013, it was confirmed that TVNZ had signed a deal to broadcast Wentworth in New Zealand. Later that month, it was announced that Wentworth would be broadcast on Channel 5 in the UK. The head of acquisitions for the channel, Kate Keenan, commented "Wentworth will be a great addition to Channel 5's drama output this autumn. This compelling cast of female characters packs an emotional punch and will appeal to the Channel 5 viewers who love our range of crime output from dramas to factual series."
A trailer for the series began airing on the channel and its website in August 2013 and premiered on Channel 5 on 28 August. Channel 5 also re-titled the show, Wentworth Prison. The second season began on Channel 5 on 3 September 2014 and season Three, which commenced broadcast on 22 July 2015, concluded with a two-hour season finale which consisted of episodes 11 and 12 of the season on 30 September 2015. Season four of Wentworth premiered on Channel 5 on 27 June 2016. In July, following declining ratings, the series was moved from its Monday night timeslot on Channel 5 to Tuesday's on sister channel 5Star.
The series premiered in the Republic of Ireland broadcasting as Wentworth on TV3 from June 2014. Season 2 premiered on TV3 on 15 January 2015. In Canada the first two seasons broadcast on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in late 2015. In December 2014, Netflix in the United States added seasons one and two to its streaming service. In April 2016 the third series was released to US audiences via the platform. Season 4 was released on Netflix in July 2016. The show features on the “50 Best TV Shows on Netflix” list according to Netflix Life.
Although the series has a strong fan base in many countries, Angela Perez of Australia Network News said Foxtel was considering cancelling the show due to audiences viewing new episodes via pirate websites following the Australian premiere. Foxtel stated that the piracy is "a serious problem in terms of recouping money to help pay for future seasons".
The show has received critical acclaim throughout its run. Following a screening of the pilot episode for the media in February 2013, Ben Pobjie from The Age called Wentworth "a triumph". He praised the writing and the cast, saying "So rarely in Australian TV do we see well-written characters collide with dead-on casting and tense, atmospheric direction as they have here." He added that Wentworth is "a powerful, almost cinematic drama" with its own identity, that incorporates "echoes" of the original Prisoner series. Holly Byrnes, writing for the Herald Sun, quipped "this brilliant retelling picks up where the pioneering series left off and then takes the kind of shocking plot detours contemporary TV viewers would expect from award-winning US dramas like Breaking Bad or Sons of Anarchy." Byrnes also praised the cast's performances, particularly Cormack.
Following its North American debut the critics drew comparisons with US prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black, though Liz Raftery of TV Guide said she believed the show was more gritty and did not "sugarcoat" prison life. They branded it "edge-of-your-seat television" and singled out Sue 'Boomer' Jenkins as one of the show's standout characters and reasons to watch. Margaret Lyons from New York magazine called it a "ruthlessly dark drama" similar to Breaking Bad, a comparison which TV Guide's critics also made. Lyons added that Wentworth's careful plotting of storylines gave meaningful payoffs and triumphed into making it a "smart and competent" series.
Gerard O'Donovan from The Daily Telegraph opined that the show has a cast of "fabulously strong, variably humane female characters." They believed it did not try to appeal to "mainstream tastes", adding "the series sticks more closely to its violent, soapy, sexploitation Prisoner: Cell Block H roots than is strictly necessary in 2016." O'Donovan branded it a rare example of fictional work portraying lesbianism as "not only normal, but the norm." He concluded the show depicts a world in which "women hold virtually all the power, albeit to no obviously edifying ends." Matt Baylis from the Daily Express criticised the show for not being original and having a "mandatory number of unnecessary scenes". They preferred the original series Prisoner and accused Wentworth of being everything the original was not.
The first episode of Wentworth attracted 244,000 viewers, making it the most watched Australian drama series premiere in Foxtel history. The UK premiere of the show attracted 1.67 million viewers, a 10.3% share of the audience for the 10pm time slot.
In Australia, Wentworth is available on both DVD and Blu-ray formats, where in 2013 the first season was released via Shock Records. The series was however acquired by Roadshow Entertainment in 2014 for distribution of subsequent seasons, and a re-release of the first season in 2016. Fremantle Home Entertainment initially held the rights for distribution in the United Kingdom, where the series is only available on DVD under the "Wentworth Prison" title. The first season was made available in a standard set and a Deluxe Edition, for which it included special features; both the second and third seasons received Deluxe Edition releases. After which, Network distribution acquired ownership of all home media rights for all previous seasons, and were the first company to release the fourth season in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the series commenced releasing on DVD in which the first two seasons are currently available from Acorn Media, and the third season available for preorder. Furthermore, multiple season sets are available on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia and on DVD in the United Kingdom.