“Too much soap and not enough opera, but still entertaining.”
The third series hit the ground running, Michelle Dockley taking evil warder Jim Fenner hostage, after stabbing him in the stomach with a broken bottle (to loud cheers here), and Nikki Wade breaking into jail, having gone to see Helen Stewart. However, in the middle, Michelle and Denny headed to Spain, with Fenner’s help. After a really grim episode, in which they took Sylvia Hollanby and her husband hostage (it felt like Last House on the Left 2), the show seemed to lose impetus, and spent the second half spiralling round a series of love triangles: Nikki/Helen/Thomas, Di/Josh/Crystal, Di/Gina/Mark. Chuck in two “surprise pregnancies” and, while soap-opera has always been part of the show, this was overkill.
The loss of Michelle was particularly apparent. An attempt to introduce a new “evil slut” prisoner was a failure; Maxi, leader of the Peckham Boot Gang, simply came across as a pale imitation. However, there was still plenty to enjoy, and the series finished strongly, with the arrival and departure of Victoria O’Kane (a great guest spot for 70’s icon Kate O’Mara), Nikki’s appeal, plus Michelle and Denny’s Butch & Sundance moment in Spain. The end of this series saw a couple of major departures, and the show will have to work hard to fill the gaps in the roster – we look forward to seeing whether the makers are up to the challenge.
Stars: Mandana Jones, Simone Lahbib, Linda Henry, Jack Ellis