Prisoner cast reunite on the inside

By David Knox on March 3, 2011 / Filed Under Pay TV 35

Some of Australian television’s all-time favourite ladies gathered at the Old Melbourne Gaol last night to launch the series rerun on Pay TV’s 111HITS.

Val Lehman (Bea Smith), Collette Mann (Doreen Anderson), Elspeth Ballantyne (Meg Morris), Patsy King (Erica Davidson), Carol Burns (Franky Doyle), Jane Clifton (Margot Gaffney), Judith McGrath (Colleen Powell) and Margaret Laurence (Marilyn Mason) were all in attendance along with media. Newspapers and A Current Affair were also gathering stories on the rare occasion.

Amanda Muggleton (Chrissie Latham) also sent an hilarious video message from Sydney, while Ella Hooper sang a rendition of the iconic theme song, “On The Inside.”

Soap guru Andrew Mercado hosted a Q&A with several cast members, in front of the gallows where Ned Kelly was hanged.

Top Dog Val Lehman told a story about the O-TEN Network being too nervous to run the show but producer Ian Bradley insisted they test it with market research.

“It was the first show that they ever did that to and the public said, ‘Yes we love it.’ And it saved us,” she said.

The cast also acknowledged the late Sheila Florence (Lizzie Birdsworth), plus Ian Bradley and creator Reg Watson.

“Oh yes, alright, but not Reg Grundy,” said Collette Mann.

Her sentiments echoed the fact that for years the cast weren’t getting residuals.

Mann, who for year had resisted reunions, said she is still recognised by fans.

“I love it when they come up to me and say, ‘Where’s your teddy bear, Doreen?’” she said.

“And I say, ‘Guess what, you’re not the first person to ever have said that’ and they’re so disappointed.”

Fiona Spence, who played Vera Bennett admitted she didn’t mind her ‘Vinegar Tits’ nickname.

“I read the script and I knew it was going to happen, so it never worried me. Back then all the young ones were a little bit coy about saying it. They used to laugh and giggle and were really quite shy. It didn’t bother me. I thought it was a good nickname,” she said.

Judith McGrath conceded that she got a shock when she learned of Colleen Powell’s ‘Po-Face’ nickname.

“Especially when I was looking at a script going, ‘What the shit is this?’”

Prisoner‘s run from 1979 to 1986 is still one of the country’s most beloved soaps, inspiring several international spin-offs and serving as a springboard for a string of Australian actresses.

111HITS will replay all 692 episodes beginning with Episode #1 from 6:30pm Monday.

35 Comments »

  1. Beth Glading November 24, 2011 at 11:43 am -

    Could someone tell me who played the TV reporter in Prisoner in the episode played on the 23/11/11? Meg is held hostage with 2 older ladies in this episode & the reporter is filming outside the shop. He looks very much like a TV presenter that was on Channel 7 not so long ago & I can’t remember his name. Thank you.

  2. Craig September 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm -

    Love it watch it every night on fox 111. If not home tape it.

  3. kim hodges August 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm -

    i just wont to know if they are releaseing the full complete series of prisoner i watched the shows back in the 70s and 80s and i am watching it on pay tv now but i would like to own the complete box set thank you mrs kim hodges

  4. rhonda llewellyn June 28, 2011 at 10:36 am -

    The years may have passed but the story lines are so brilliant im enjoying them today. Thanks Foxtel for sceening such a fabulous series.

  5. Keith Ball June 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm -

    I remember watching this show at the age of 10, back in 1979 with my grandparents; they have both passed away now. I watched the entire series, even the last episode. I got to meet Maggie Kirkpatrick at a Sleaze Ball party VIP room back in 1994. She is a lovely woman, nothing like her Prisoner character.

    I still watch the re runs on Foxtel, never miss an episode. Love ths show soooo much. Great show, great storylines and even greater actors. Very Australian and very well written. You can see why England attempted producing a similar show. Thanks ladies for such a fabulous show, it brings back good memories of my childhood. XX

  6. nicholasg March 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm -

    lol at Jude McGrath. She’s a scream!

  7. Dean Lotherington March 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm -

    Amazing!

  8. Beth March 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm -

    Loved the ACA interview and some great clips. Maybe Channel Nine can bring it back to one of their channels.

  9. Bec March 4, 2011 at 12:43 pm -

    Judith McGrath, LOL!
    Adore this show! But in Jude’s words: what the sh*t is 111Hits? Can we please have on FTA/digitals???

  10. Meg March 4, 2011 at 1:05 am -

    @koverstreet aka 9rules I agree with you on all those and also add Cop Shop to the mix. But still Prisoner was and always will be the best.

  11. koverstreet March 3, 2011 at 11:57 pm -

    @ oi oi oi – I’d love to see stuff like Glenview High get a run too ,at the moment I have to make do with 10min clips from youtube. Also Class of 74,Matlock Police,Division 4,The Young Doctors and my favourite The Restless Years. With a couple of exceptions (Sons & Daughters and a few years ago A Country Practice – to their credit Seven are great when it comes to showing classic oz tv shows) this country ignores it’s tv history. How about ditching all this home shopping garbage and play a bunch of 70′s & 80′s classics.

  12. Wayne March 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm -

    Every time a show or sporting event is announced for Foxtel, the comments start coming in about how it should be on FTA so good to see it’s no different with Prisoner. If 10 really wanted to, they could have been showing this for years (barring any rights issues) but they havent so of course Foxtel are going to step in. Get Foxtel or stop the complaing.

  13. Aaron March 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm -

    It would have been great if 111 Hits had recorded a Prisoner reunion special at last nights get together.

    Also, for those people who keep saying that Channel 10 should repeat the series – the problem is that they no longer own the rights to the series.

  14. Mike.S March 3, 2011 at 6:11 pm -

    I still love the show so much and enjoy watching the dvds,Prisoner in my view was the best australia drama,and being repeated again 32 years after first airing proves the public still love the show.Looking foward to watching ACA tonight to see the ladies,dont normally watch ACA but for a change the show actually has a story that appeals too me.And thanks David for posting this story and supporting all Australian drama from today and the past… good work as always David. Cheers.

  15. Mac March 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm -

    @Garry : Brilliant!

    I also loved this show so much when I was growing up in the UK, the first time I went to the US for four months, I got my sister to tape as many episodes as possible. I came back to an insane ammount of Prisoner to catch up on.

    Incidentally, in the UK, it is known as Prisoner:Cell Block H so as not to be confused with the Patrick McGoohan show.

  16. Ben March 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm -

    Maybe Ten should think about bringing it back to boost ratings.

  17. Slimer March 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm -

    @ snapper jack – Bea Smith is dead, she died in a riot at Barnhurst, so Bea in a retirement home cannot be done at all….

  18. Billy March 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm -

    But I have noticed that 111 hits decided not to do a Prisoner marathon with 5 eps at once like they do with lots of their shows but its not critical. as long as its on and there’s series link and subscibers are getting what they want to see.
    Only thing is the friends who do not have cable and will all of a sudden start visiting 5 times a week…..

  19. Dodge March 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm -

    Garry, that’s hilariously cute!

  20. franz chong March 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm -

    Re running our old shows would be nice for those of us who were not even born yet or were only babies or very young when they first came out.

    Nine could do worse than ditch 2.5 men for the Sullivans while they figure out what to do for a 7pm show and surely the acting on the latter is much better than Charlie Sheen.

  21. Rowan March 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm -

    I agree, Channel Ten should be quick smart and put this on Eleven. If repeats of Heartbeat can get such high ratings on 7TWO then this would be ratings gold.

  22. Mason Hell-Cat March 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm -

    @snapper jack – Maybe Ted Bullpitt could be one of the other residents?

  23. oi oi oi March 3, 2011 at 11:36 am -

    I’m still waiting on “Glenview High” to get a re-run somewhere

  24. garry March 3, 2011 at 11:35 am -

    I loved this show so much that before we had our first VCR, if I wasn’t going to be home, I would get my mum to record the audio by putting a cassette recorder up against the tv speaker.

  25. Billy March 3, 2011 at 10:47 am -

    she bumped inta me !!

  26. Dodge March 3, 2011 at 10:28 am -

    This is great, but man, how many reunions are there going to be

  27. Andrew March 3, 2011 at 10:23 am -

    First YTT, now Prisoner… is ACA morphing into some sort of “Where Are They Now” clone?

  28. Ash Padalecki March 3, 2011 at 10:12 am -

    Imagine the ratings Channel 10 would of got if they got the rights and replayed this?!! I think it would rate quite highly, especially if they played it 8.30 on a Monday or Thursday night?!! Retro is in!!!

  29. Geoff Field March 3, 2011 at 9:47 am -

    Can’t wait for ACA tonight !

  30. koverstreet March 3, 2011 at 9:42 am -

    I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Prisoner like I am of other oz soaps but I did enjoy it. For me the early episodes with Franky Doyle were the best ones.

  31. Juan Gonzalez March 3, 2011 at 9:27 am -

    What a great show.

  32. snapper jack March 3, 2011 at 9:07 am -

    I’m tellin ya I get the best idea to revive the prisoner cast. Fast track forward to the older birds like Bea in a retirement home for old farts just released from prison. amanda muggleton and jane clifton are doing community work as aged care staff. The Freak and Vinegar Tits are trapped in there with them and try to reclaim their former dominance as the keeper of the keys by draining the ex prisoners batteries to their mobility scooters and crippling their zimmer frames

    tellin ya it’ll make a fortune. you heard it here folks

  33. Jake March 3, 2011 at 8:40 am -

    I think that Prisoner should also be replayed on ELEVEN twice a week in place of all that junk which is currently being aired….

  34. john March 3, 2011 at 8:04 am -

    Love em…love em….love em xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  35. steven guy March 3, 2011 at 7:59 am -

    I wish 10 would rerun this on 11.

    Maybe all our networks should rerun our favourite old shows on their digi’s rather serving up repeats of every thing that was just on the other night.

    Country Practice on 7two. The Sullivans, Homicide etc on GO and not forgetting No 96 on 11.

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