Foxtel commissions reboot of Prisoner Cell Block H as Wentworth

prisonerFoxtel has made its first drama commission of 2012 – a “reimagining” of Prisoner Cell Block H more than 25 years after the last episode of the cult Australian drama aired.

Titled Wentworth, after the prison in the original series, the drama will be produced by FremantleMedia Australia. It will be the first major production to be led by FremantleMedia director of drama Jo Porter who joined the company in the new role in January. Previuously Porter worked at Seven, where she launched series including All Saints and Packed To The Rafters.

Featuring an ensemble cast, Wentworth will be a modern day version of the story of lead character Bea, played by Val Lehman in the original Prisoner.

“I think it’s time to take a look at Prisoner and do a 2012 reimagining of the show,” Brian Walsh, Foxtel’s director of television told Encore magazine.

The orignal show, produced for Network Ten by the Reg Grundy Organisation, ran for nearly 700 episodes from 1979 to 1986. As well as Australia it picked up a large following across most of the English speaking world.

Walsh said: “It’s going to be provocative in a way that it could never be on Channel Ten but certainly can on subscription television.”

The series will be shot in Melbourne later this year.

The commissioning of FremantleMedia marks a return home for Prisoner. FremantleMedia Australia was formed six years ago by the merger of Grundy and Crackerjack.

  • Read more about Foxtel in the Encore profile of Brian Walsh, Foxtel’s director of television in the March issue of Encore. To suscribe visit Magshop.


  1. Alison_F
    5 Mar 12
    10:45 am

  2. Well that is good news!!! I look forward to it!

  3. Cynic
    5 Mar 12
    12:38 pm

  4. Surely this is the TV equivilent of bringing back stone washed flares?

  5. Matthew Gain
    5 Mar 12
    12:53 pm

  6. It’s just Prisoner guys. The Cell Block H bit was for the UK audience only.

    Was a massive fan as a kid. :-)

  7. LeaCom
    5 Mar 12
    1:48 pm

  8. Brilliant! Can’t wait to see the old characters again. I wonder if they will cast well-knowns or fresh blood.

  9. Carol-Anne Croker
    5 Mar 12
    2:12 pm

  10. I looked great in stonewashed flares and if they use experienced people as script consultants (people who really know the inside… and I happen to know at least three women available in this capacity) the storylines will hold strongly and not resort to pure soap but can be TV drama of the quality that Pay TV leads with in Australian content… sorry cynic… this perhaps just needs re-branding and moving away from the old ‘image’ of shaky scenery and some over-acting 😉

  11. Shanghai
    5 Mar 12
    8:34 pm

  12. “I think it’s time to take a look at Prisoner and do a 2012 reimagining of the show”

    I think it’s time they had a new idea …

  13. Carl
    6 Mar 12
    2:38 pm

  14. No wonder I can’t get any interest in my original drama series idea when producers would rather dig up hoary old chestnuts like this.

    I hope at least they reimagine it as something good this time.

  15. WWIP
    6 Mar 12
    2:40 pm

  16. Wonder if this will qualify under local production guidelines?

  17. Offal Spokesperson
    6 Mar 12
    3:11 pm

  18. Phew…… Young Talent Time – It’s a Knockout and now Prisoner. Who wouldve thought that wearing the stonewash Jeans, Hypercolour Tshirts and having big hair would ever make you the ideal person to develop “New” TV.

    If Simon Townsend’s Wonder World isnt back by June ill be mighty pissed!!!

  19. James
    6 Mar 12
    7:56 pm

  20. I hate reboots. It would be better to do a continuation of the original series. Val Lehman was Bea Smith, no one else.

  21. Val
    31 Mar 12
    10:28 am

  22. So awesome that Lehman will be back in this new series!! I can see her this time around as….wait for it…..THE GOVERNOR. Vinegar tits comes back as a lesbian prisoner and the original governor is her inmate lover . Frankie has a re-birth as a ghost that haunts the cells and (sooky) Lyn is no-where to be found. Can’t wait!!