Prisoner started in 1979 and lasted 8 years . It was originally only meant to be 16 episodes long and was meant to end with the death of Franky Doyle. Fortunately by public demand it was continued until it was axed in 1986. Throughout the whole series the starting sequence and ending sequence has stayed the same. Every so-often there would be different people faces in the mug shots but basically it stayed the same. The only exception was in the first couple of episodes. The theme tune 'On The Inside' was sung by Lynn Hamilton.
Prisoner is mostly set in Wentworth Detenchion Centre but in some cases it is either outside, or in other prisons in Australia. One of the other main prisons featured in Prisoner is Barnhurst which is not as tightly secured as Wentworth. This is where Vera Bennett got her job as Governor around episode 220, where Bea Smith was sent once in episode 197 and again in episode 400 <never to be seen again>, where Chrissie Laythem, Marie Winter, Margo Gaffney, May Collins, Ettie Parslow, Daphne Graham, Willie Beecham, Julie Eggbert and Nora Flynn all came from. It was burned down in 1985 due to a riot which Bea Smith tried to stop and this ended up in her death. We don't ever hear about it after that so who knows what happened to it.
Another prison mentioned was Blackmoor, it seemed everyone was afraid of being send there because it was a very high security prison. Rita Conners and Reb Kean both served sentences in Blackmoor. After the Great Fire of Wentworth the prisoners where sent to Woodridge where they were all locked in one room with hardly and beds and the sowed mail bags for work.
The series starts with a frantic, drugged, bare footed, Sally Lee running through the dull, depressing corridors of Wentworth Detenchion Centre. Running after her are two female officers, the small blond haired Meg Jackson and the nasty looking one Vera Bennett. Sally is stopped by the rough looking Frankie Doyle who replies 'She bumped into me'. Later on in the first episode Sally Lee hangs her-self in need for drugs she is found by Karen Travers in her cell.
original Cast Were :-
Lynn Warner, Karen Travers, Frankie Doyle, Meg Jackson, Vera Bennett, Lizzie Birdsworth, Bea Smith, Marilyn Mason, Doreen Anderson , Mum Brooks, Erica Davidson , Greg Miller, Eddie Cook.
Mum Brooks , Sally Lee and Frankie Doyle where the first to leave the series. Karen Travers , Greg Miller <Who got married> and Lynn Warner where the next to go. Then Lizzie Birdsworth and Doreen Anderson where released from prison . On the outside Doreen got engaged to Kevin Burns. Doreen's mother then died and left her everything in the will. But it didn't take Doreen long to get back to Wentworth. Then Lizzie tried everything to get back in and she succeeded.
Another three characters where brought into the series, Pat O'Connell, Ros Coulson and Jean Vernan. We also see Monica Fergusion <Angie in Neighbours> and Noelene Burke. Then Jim Flecther is brought onto the staff soon followed by Paul Reid and Jock Stewart . Chrissie Laythem is then brought back when Erica Davidson is on leave and Jim Fletcher is in charge, this causes alot of disturbance between the staff and the prisoners. Jim Fletcher's wife and children are killed by a bomb meant for Jim and planted by Jeff Butler.
In early 1980 Judy Bryant and Sharron Gilmore arrive, they are lovers and Judy gets put in prison so that she can be with Sharron and save her from Chrissie. Sharron is killed by Jock Stewart, by throwing her down a flight of stairs and breaking her neck, and then Jock is killed by falling down a flight of stairs whilst running after Judy, in which he had sex with just before. Doreen is raped by Vince Talbot, the manager of the factory in which they go on work release to. She also has sex with him again so that he will tell her how much the lowest bid is for the job in which she is trying to get Kevin, her husband. She becomes pregnant looses her baby and her husband leaves her then she is nearly killed in the tunnel escape all in the space of about 30 episodes. Around this time we see Kay White until she is killed by Lynda but Lizzie takes the blame, then we see a new social worker after Paul Reid flees to be with his son. She is called Agnes (the same actor that played Ettie Parslow). An inspector from the department, Mr. Gilespie arrives and stays for about 10 episodes, he causes a lot of trouble and even Vera Bennett doesn't like them. He has the prison officers on etra shifts, shooting practice, he totally strictens up the prison and the staff or the prisoners don't like it.
So a few of them decide to escape, they find an old book in the library and find out that there are tunnels under the prison. So the find one of the tunnels and decide to hold a pantomime for the children from the orphanage out in the garden. Judy, Mouse Trap, Irene and Doreen all decide they want to escape so they head down the tunnel and then Lizzie goes after Doreen just in time to see the tunnel collapse and Irene to be killed. Bea then comes down looking for Lizzie and while the are down the mental psycho Anne Griffin covers up the entrance out and they are stuck. Judy and Mouse get out but Mouse only lasts a few days before she is recaptured. After a while Mouse tells them that they are stuck in the tunnel and then Gilespie and Fletcher go looking for them, they find Lizzie, unconscious Doreen, dead Irene and the nearly mental insane Bea Smith.
Shortly after this there is a feud between Bea and Judy over
Georgie Baxter there are a couple of riots and Bea get struck on the head and
sent to hospital it all dies down after this.
Next to arrive is the male officer, Terry Harrison who falls in
love with Vera and they soon have plans to marry. But this is all stopped with
the arrival of Terry's ex-wife, Kathy Hall. Kathy is tried to be killed by Dina
Hunter under the actions of Jack Fitzwater. Kathy is eventually killed by a set
up for Terry. After this Terry is shot dead outside the prison. In episode
224 Vera Bennett leaves the series and is replaced by Colleen Powell, who had
been in the series on earlier. Next is Alison Page who has a lot of troubles
with the women and at home but she has a happy ending even after she try's to
kill her self. Then the attendance centre project is started in which Doreen
escapes and it is then scrapped. Andrea Hennesy is brought into Wentworth
and she has Erica a kidnapped due to this one of her friends are killed and the
other brought to Wenworth who later hangs her-self. Andrea gets released.
Colleen is now made a senior officer and is trying to fill the shoes of Vera.
Bea soon falls ill with Kidney failure. Sandy Edwards and Kate Peterson arrive
and Sandy takes over as a very good Top dog, Bea even thinks so. Marie Winter
was next to arrive taking over Bea Smiths position of Top Dog while she was
getting kidney treatment. At this time there are two new officers Janet Conway
and Steve Fawkner and Jim Fletcher has an affair with Janet Conway. Marie starts
drugs rackets within the prison and Sandy and Bea team up to-gether to stop her.
Sandy kills Jack Fitzwater and then Kate kills Sandy, eventually Kate is carted
off to the mental hospital. Janet and Jim soon leave the series.
Judy then gets out of Wentworth and opens a half-way house for
ex-crims (Driscoll House). Shortly after that Doreen Burns leaves the series.
Next to arrive is Joan Fergusion. in episode 287. After Joan Ferguson joins she
quickly makes an enemy in Bea Smith. Joan also finds herself sexually attracted
to new prisoner Hannah Simpson, though Hannah is disgusted by Joan. Chrissie
Laythem returns and plans an escape with new cellmate Hannah. The escape does
not go as planned and only Chrissie escapes though she is soon recaptured.
Chrissie is in for more trouble when she is targeted by a mystery serial killer
who had killed a prostitute shortly after her release from Wentworth and who had
also gone after Helen Smart.
The killer is initially thought to be Joan Ferguson, who hates
Chrissie with a passion and had previously given her a severe beating. Joan
isn't the killer but her colleagues still attempt to frame her up and get her
sacked. Joan weasels her way out of this one and Steve Fawkner becomes the
scapegoat and is forced to resign instead. Later Bea attempts to get Joan once
and for all. This leads to the great Wentworth fire and deaths of Mouse Trapp,
and Barbara Fields who had been blackmailing Joan. Paddy Lawson comes across
badly injured Bea and the trapped Joan in the burning prison and agrees only to
assist Joan in getting out if she carries Bea. All three finally make it out.
Initially Bea and Chrissie are blamed for starting the fire. It is later learned
that Margo actually started it and that Colleen had also stored a large stock of
mineral turpentine in the storeroom which had helped the fire spread. Chrissie
and Bea are cleared and the fire officially attributed to Mouse and Barbara (the
two who died). Shortly after the fire Governor Erica Davidson abruptly "resigns"
and leaves the prison, and then Margo and Chrissie are also transferred out. New
Governor Ann Reynolds arrives though Colleen, Meg and Joan had all applied for
the job. Joan seems to be taking over Wentworth and many of the prisoners are
not following Bea's rule. Bea therefore decides to escape by slipping into
Joan's spare uniform and casually following a group of trainee Officers out of
the prison after their tour of Wentworth. After travelling to Sydney and meeting
up with Doreen, and also finding work as servant to a wealthy society woman she
is recaptured and returned to Wentworth. Joan teams with new nasty Nola McKenzie
and Zara Moonbeam to drive Bea mad (by making her believe her daughter Debbie's
ghost is communicating with her).
A new prisoner Maxine Daniels arrives who knows Joan from a previous prison in Queensland. Maxine becomes good friends with Bea and Lizzie and is shown in and out of Wentworth, sometimes staying at the halfway house while outside and attempting to seduce halfway house helper Tony Berman. Finally Maxine escapes and teams with Tinkerbell (actress Lesley Baker who played Monica Ferguson earlier) and they attempt a burglary from a factory. Later, Wentworth is again quarantined due to a jungle fever which claims the lives of several bit players and extras and forces Bea to assist her arch enemy Joan Ferguson who falls ill. Bea and Joan both survive. Bea is again in trouble when locked in solitary and an evil intruder plants a bomb outside her cell. The bomb eventually goes off. Bea does survive but is soon after transferred to Barnhurst after a fight with Joan Ferguson. Joan teams up with evil new prisoner Sonia Stevens.
After Bea's departure Judy returns to Wentworth (convicted of murder after the mercy killing of Hazel Kent). Pixie Mason is a new prisoner, in for bigamy. She is joined by Cass Parker (who had killed a Barnhurst officer in a fit or anger) and Minnie Donovan (who had long managed a large group of young pickpockets and thieves). Minnie and Cass briefly team up as top dog. There is another serial killer in Wentworth. He kills Randy Goodlove (who had been Marty Jackson's fiancé, much to Meg's displeasure) and goes after Lizzie and Cass. Lizzie is paroled and the serial killer stopped. One of Minnie's former charges, rebellious Reb Kean turns up in Wentworth and proves herself a sly and evil adversary for both Minnie and for Joan.
Reb's friends outside kidnap Joan's father to force Joan to help Reb escape. Myra Desmond joins and takes over as top dog. Myra must contend with her former husband's tarty girlfriend Gloria Payne; and Sonia with a vindictive blind murderess out for revenge. Erica Davidson returns as head of the Department. Doreen also returns to Wentworth. She has herself put inside so she can avoid marrying - as she has changed her mind. She befriends new Officer Rick Manning, who Cass had previously fallen for. Doreen is released and Sonia and Bobbie kidnapped by Sonia's business associates. They are taken to Sydney where Sonia lives the high life and persuades her associates to allow Bobbie to work as a prostitute for them rather than kill her. Bobbie is later captured by chance by a holidaying Joan Ferguson while Sonia fakes her won suicide/death and disappears with a great deal of money. Margo Gaffney returns and makes an enemy of Myra through her drug dealing. Margo is soon transferred to Blackmoor,never to return, after an attack on Myra. Myra learns her daughter has become a heroin addict. With the assistance of old friend Wally Wallace she escapes during the fair day and goes to help daughter Kay off drugs. Pixie is released and Reb Kean bashes Phyllis Hunt, causing severe brain damage. During Myra's absence Marie Winter returns and teams with "newcomers" Alice and Lou for a big riot during which Reb is severely bashed by Marie.
During the riot Ann Reynolds risks death to rescue several trapped prisoners, including glamorous model Leigh Templar, a remand prisoner. Marie later escapes by hanging from the landing gear of a passing helicopter being flown by an accomplice...Lizzie's replacement was Dot Farrow, but she only survived for a few months. With Cass Parker in the Mental hospital, Minnie Donovan transferred to another block and Phyllis hunt brain dead after Reb Kean attacked her in the shower block. We then see Colleen Powell's children and husband blown up by a car-bomb meant for Rick Manning, she later leaves the series to go on a cruise. Next we see new faces like Lexie Patterson, Marlene Warren, Matt Delaney, Frank Burke, Geoff McRae. The three men have been transferred from Woodridge for their own safety. There is various attempts to kill them but they never work.
Myra Desmond has a brief affair with Geoff McRae. Frank Burke rapes Pixie Maison and they plot with the freak to set up Len Murphy for the rape. Frank also returns later in the series and shoots Dennis Cruickshank in the knees, Dennis will never walk again and leaves his job and his Fiancé, Meg Morris. Pixie then goes to the Mental Hospital. Joan Fergusion is now having Blackouts and at one time she actually forgets to lock the cells. This seems the perfect chance to get rid of her, so Myra Desmond and Lou Kelly try to set her up and it works. She resigns and then has brain surgery. An inmate Anita Selby who is a nun she tells Ann Reynolds the truth and Joan is then reinstated and makes life hell for Myra.
Around this time we see Janice Grant the solicitor/alcoholic. She helps Ettie Parslow get out of prison after finding out that she was innocent and had served 20 years for nothing. They then sue the department <just like Lizzie Birdsworth>. Ettie then goes and lives with Meg Morris. Then Meg moves and Ettie goes to live in a retirement home. Dennis Cruickshank is now back and having an affair with Meg Morris. There is a new officer on the staff list, she is Terri Malone <same actor who played Sharron Gilmore>. She, Joan and Ruth Ballingar are out to get Myra. Terri and Joan actually have a lesbian-love affair. Ruth Ballinger is the next to arrive, she is the wife of Arnie Ballinger. She has the department around her little finger. She has her own private telephone line, a colour TV, a new bed and lot's of new furniture. She starts to give out presents to the women including DRUGS and she slips acid into Myra Desmond's tea.
In the prison now are 5 nagging women from Barnhurst, Nora Flynn,
May Collins, Willie Beecham, Daphne Graham and Julie Eggbert. Myra Desmond is
eventually killed when Arnie Ballingar takes Nora Flynn hostage in an attempt to
get his wife out of prison. Because Nora is pregnant Myra takes her place and
gets killed. Nora then becomes Top Dog and she looses her baby after Lou Kelly
kicks her in the stomach. Joyce Barry leaves her husband and marries the prison
cook 'Merv Pringle'.
Ettie Parslow now gets back into prison after alot of trying, she
ends up robbing a bank<Lizzie Again>. Then Ann Reynolds daughter Pippa appears.
After a few months all the Nagging Barnhurst crew left the series except for
Julie Eggbert <Susan Kennedy in Neighbours>. In November 1985 we see 4 new
characters, Rita Conners , Barbie Cox, Nancy McCormack and Eve Wilder, and an
old favorite from Blackmoor, Reb Kean. From now on the storylines just get
better. It is just like the good-old-days. Just like Bea, Rita hates Joan
Fergusion. We also see another new prisoner Janet Williams and a new temp Bob
Moran while Ann Reynolds is on leave. She back again
Ettie Parslow and Julie and Lexie leave the series. In 1986 we see 6 new prisoners, Kathy Maxwell, Merle Jones, Lisa Mullins, Lorelei Wilkinson, Vicki McPherson and Rose Simpson, we also see 3 new prisoner officers, Marty Jackson <Meg's son>, Rodney Adams and Delia Stout. Prisoner ended in 1986 and it's last two episodes where brilliant.