Originally named Prisoner for its home audience and re-titled Prisoner Cell Block H for overseas viewing, the series became one of the most watched Australian soaps of all time.
Made by Grundy Television, Prisoner Cell Block H was the first of its kind, tackling issues such as rape, homosexuality, murder and violence. Prisoner, in effect, broke all of the rules set out by previous Aussie made soaps such as The Young Doctors, The Sullivans and The Restless Years – no pretty young faces, no nice homes and no romance.
This seemed to surprise everyone who tuned in during the first airing; perhaps nobody quite knew what to expect about a drama series set inside a prison for women. They were immediately gripped!
Fun facts about Prisoner Cell Block H:
Production began on Prisoner on August 4th 1978.
Reg Watson was the man responsible for creating Prisoner.
According to reports, the cast smoked over 1,000,000 cigarettes during filming. That’s a lot of nicotine!
Prisoner boasted one of the largest combined cast and crew during the 7 yrs of which the series was made, with over 2000 people involved.
On Canadian television Prisoner was known as Caged Women.
Prisoner was filmed in the same studios where Neighbours is made. Iconic Prisoner actors went on to even greater fame in Neighbours – Janet Andrewartha (Reb Kean/Lyn Scully) and Jackie Woodburne (Julie Egbert/Susan Kennedy).
In total, 96 different writers wrote episodes of the series. Some of these writers also appeared as characters, such as Ian Smith (Ted Douglas), Anne Lucas (Faye Quin), George Mallaby (Paul Reid), Liddy Holloway (Sister Kelly) and Bryon Williams (Dr Weissman).
Christmas was celebrated just once inside the walls of Wentworth.
The first set of Prisoner DVDs released in Australia sold to Gold status.