TV Week: “Prisoner spin-off up for grabs!” Prisoner 15th November 1986

TV Week
15th November 1986

After eight years, the doors were closed on Wentworth, but a new show is already in pre-production.

A Spin-Off to the popular, long-running series Prisoner is being planned.

Pre-production on the new series, which has the working-title Barnhurst, has already been commenced by the Grundy Organization, the company that produced Prisoner for its multi- award-winning eight-year run on Network 10.

In an exclusive interview with TV WEEK, Reg Watson, senior vice president of drama at Grundys, confirms that work on the new prison drama is underway.

“Definitely. We are preparing a presentation,” he reveals.

That “presentation” — a video outlining the concept, format, characters and theme for the new drama — will be submitted to executives at Network 10, who will have first option to buy the program, before the end of this year.

“The format for the show is being discussed and we’ve had lots of ideas about a new series,” he says.

“We feel it would be a good idea.

And there’s been a lot of mail from Prisoner fans who were unhappy that the show was ending.

“The new show will be a prison drama with a difference.”

If one of the commerical channels commissions the new series, it will go into production in either Sydney or Melbourne early next year.

At this stage, Grundys have still not decided whether the new show will will be a 13 or 26-episode series or an on-going serial.

Despite details surrounding the storylines for the yet-to-be- screened final episode of Prisoner still being kept under tight wraps,

Reg did admit that “Barnhurst” would not follow on from where Prisoner leaves off.

So it would seem unlikely to be set in Wentworth Detention Centre and feature popular characters like The Freak, Mrs Reynolds, Meg Morris and Rita Connors?

“That would depend on the availability of certain actresses and what the network wants,” Reg says.

“But at the moment we see that the new prison drama would be a separate story and it may not be set in a women-only prison.

“There are a lot of women in men’s prisons — and we’ve considered that before,” Reg says, referring to the Grundys series Punishment, which was sold extensively overseas.

Enthused by the prospect of a new prison drama being produced by Grundys, Reg admits he was not devastated when the news that Prisoner was to end production on September 5, was announced earlier this year.

He is exceptionally proud of the quality of the series’ final programs.

“It’s good that a decision was made while the show was still getting fairly good ratings,” he says.

“It’s nice to go out on a high.

“And the quality of those final episodes is of a very high standard — as it was always.”

That much-awaited final episode of Prisoner will go to air on Network 10 in Melbourne on December 11 this year and will screen later in other states.

In the meantime, fans of the Prisoner can look fonyard to another behind-bars saga if the show they’re tagging “Barnhust” gets the go ahead.

Original content copyright TV Week.