TV Preview: Wentworth Prison, Five, 10pm

Wentworth. Picture: Comp
Wentworth. Picture: Comp
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Remember Prisoner: Cell Block H, the cult Australian drama that used to be on late night ITV and apparently starred every Antipodean actress over the age of 30?

Well, it’s back, and grittier than ever - this time, the sets don’t even wobble. In the new ‘reimagining’ of Wentworth Prison there’s sex, violence, strip searches, drug trafficking and murder - and that’s all in the first episode.

But the drama hasn’t entirely forgotten its roots. It focuses on the character of Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack, pictured), whose name will be familiar to veteran Prisoner fans.

However, when we first meet her, she’s not the well-established ‘Queen Bea’ some viewers may remember. Instead, she’s a frightened newcomer on remand for the attempted murder of her abusive husband, and Cormack says we shouldn’t make too many assumptions about where the character will go.

But we should expect to see her undergo some serious changes during the course of the season.

Cormack, who proved her bad girls credentials in the acclaimed Underbelly: Razor, says: “She meets women who have possibly been in worse situations than she has, and she forges relationships with all these women - she’s got no choice really.

“She’s also in a situation where she’s being controlled, and people are trying to assert their power over her, so even though she’s safe from the outside world and what’s going on with her husband, she’s catapulted into this environment of women who see her as a threat, possibly because she maintains her autonomy from any of the games that are going on within that prison environment.

“How could you not change in a situation like that? I don’t think anyone could have that experience without it having an impact on them.”

In this opening episode, the new inmate finds herself vulnerable to the manipulations of beautiful, charismatic inmate Franky (Nicole Da Silva), who recruits the newcomer as a drugs mule.

When Bea is caught carrying crystal meth, she refuses to drop Franky in it, earning herself a spell in solitary confinement and the grudging respect of her fellow inmates.

However, governor Meg Jackson (Catherine McClements) is determined not to let Franky take over Wentworth, even if it means sparking a turf war by letting rival top dog Jacs Holt (Kris McQuade) back into the compound...