Wentworth cast on the inside

By David Knox on October 4, 2012 / Filed Under Pay TV, Top Stories 23

Hold the ironing press….. Danielle Cormack (pictured, left) has landed the ‘top dog’ role of Bea Smith in new Foxtel drama, Wentworth.

The 10-part reimagining of Prisoner, will reboot established characters and introduce new ones in the fictional Wentworth Detention Centre and will shake off the original series’ reputation for wafer-thin sets and occasionally over-the-top performances.

With significant changes from its original premise, it will also ask fans to re-think their memories of iconic characters in order to breathe a contemporary life into the ambitious show.

Some characters have been given new roles, such as Meg Jackson becoming Governor and Erica Davidson now pitched as a lawyer. The role of Doreen Anderson, originally played by Colette Mann, is now an Indigenous character. Officer Jim Fletcher is now Officer Matthew Fletcher.

Key roles are:

Prisoners:
Wentworth’s latest arrival, suburban wife and mum Bea Smith: Danielle Cormack (Underbelly Razor, Rake)
GenY lesbian Franky Doyle: Nicole Da Silva (Rush, East West 101
Liz Birdsworth: Celia Ireland (Laid, All Saints)
Young Aboriginal woman Doreen Anderson: newcomer Shareena Clanton
Newly-created character, crime matriarch Jacs Holt: Kris McQuade (Killing Time, The Circuit)

Correction staff and others:
Governor Meg Jackson: Catherine McClements (Rush, Tangle, Water Rats)
Deputy Vera Bennett: Kate Atkinson (Offspring, Rush)
Officer Matthew “Fletch” Fletcher: Aaron Jeffery (Underbelly Badness, McLeod’s Daughters)
Officer Will Jackson: Robbie Magasiva (Shortland Street)
and progressive and crusading lawyer Erica Davidson:  Leeanna Walsman (Underbelly Badness)

Developed by Lara Radulovich and David Hannam the series is described as “a confronting drama set in the pressure cooker environment of a women’s prison. The inmates and the corrections staff of Wentworth Detention Centre will be forced to forge unlikely friendships and allegiances if they are to survive on the inside.”

The series will be shot on a purpose built prison set in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton and employ in excess of 300 cast and crew. So far none of the original Prisoner cast have been announced in cameo roles, or attached to the project, despite Val Lehman indicating she was keen to return in the role of the Governor.

Foxtel Executive Director of Television Brian Walsh said “Wentworth will be bold Australian storytelling with this remarkable group of actors portraying the rivalries, power struggles and heartbreak of prison life in a drama tailor-made for the subscription television audience.”

FremantleMedia Australia Director of Drama and Executive Producer Jo Porter said “Wentworth is a compelling character drama series about women and I’m absolutely thrilled with the superb cast we have assembled to bring them to life.”

As one of Australian TV’s most iconic soaps, Prisoner has previously been reimagined as a US series and a UK stage musical.

Wentworth will premiere in 2013 only on the SoHo channel. A four month shoot begins in Melbourne next week.

Photo: left to right, Danielle Cormack, Nicole da Silva, Aaron Jeffrey and Kris McQuade.

23 Comments »

  1. Andrew42 October 23, 2012 at 1:15 am -

    I have no idea why they have to re-imagine original characters in new forms. I think the Bea Smith idea could work well to give us an insight into the circumstances behind her past, but I don’t know about having Meg Jackson as the Governor, Erica Davidson as a lawyer, Doreen Anderson as an Aborigine or Jim Fletcher as another younger Fletcher. What is the point? They could have pre-dated all of it, but still set it in modern times. That would’ve worked just as well, plus it would’ve given loyal Prisoner fans a basis on which to develop a love of the new cast. It’ll already be hard enough for them to stand out against the original cast and prove their worth.

  2. idiotbox October 5, 2012 at 10:40 pm -

    In Ten’s heyday they rebooted Neighbours with success after Seven dumped it.
    With Ten’s current performance maybe Foxtel could be on a winner this time…

  3. danoh October 5, 2012 at 3:41 am -

    Looking forward to seeing Robbie Magasiva in this! I wonder if he’ll keep his NZ accent?

  4. stlang October 4, 2012 at 9:32 pm -

    I believe the writers are Pete McTighe (7 episodes) and Jane Allen (3 episodes).

  5. David Knox October 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm -

    “The only success is Free to Air…”

    Umm, no. Success / failure is possible in FTA and Pay TV. TEN turned down a potential reboot. Foxtel didn’t.

  6. Mac October 4, 2012 at 6:36 pm -

    I was a fan of the original and this has got me really excited. Only downside is that I don’t have (and don’t intend to get) Foxtel so hoping for a domestic showing or prompt release to DVD…

  7. Flamin Old Hat October 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm -

    So, it will only be on the “SoHo channel” ay? Still pay-TV only???

    When will they ever learn? The only success is Free to Air and there are now plenty of channels to choose from with Freeview Digital.

  8. stevie g October 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm -

    Kris McQuade is perfect for Prisoner. It’s surprising that she wasn’t in the original. Not sure about her character’s name though. It dosn’t exactly roll of the tongue.

  9. TVTim October 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm -

    Some very narrow and closed minded points below…. Time to open our minds and embrace the exciting concept!! I for one cant wait for it!

  10. idiotbox October 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm -

    I hope they give it the same heart as the original series. The OTT acting and campness of the original was actually the best thing about it. Made it fun to watch. Let’s hope the producers of the new version don’t take themselves too seriously and make it fun to watch.

  11. tvaddict October 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm -

    Awesome! can’t wait for this one, i might have to get Foxtel after all. Good to see Danielle Cormack cast as Bea, she was the only thing that made Underbelly Razor watchable imho.
    I do have my doubts though, as others do, about the ‘reimagining’ of it, but will be interesting to see how it works out. Maybe the reason they chose that path is that a modern women’s prison drama with new characters has already been done very succesfully with UK show ‘Bad Girls’, and no doubt they will be wanting to sell this one to international audiences so a rehash is more appealing.

  12. Ancient October 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm -

    Am I the only one who thinks the lady on the right (Kris McQuade) looks like an older version of Dr Kerryn Phelps???

    Uncanny resemblance!

  13. Andrew October 4, 2012 at 11:22 am -

    Some interesting/promising choices of actors but why bother keeping the character names but making them different roles or completely different personas to the original? What’s the point in that?

  14. stevie g October 4, 2012 at 11:11 am -

    Danielle will make a good Bea. But it does bother me when NZers play Aussie, you can alway detect the accent. Why is Meg a Governor, when it’s supposed to be before the events in the original? Aaron Jeffrey is everywhere at the mo.

    @Davinprogress, I get what you mean about the dated names, but “re-imagings” of comic book heroes do it all the time. There arn’t many young guys called Clark, Bruce or Dick these days.

  15. Dave October 4, 2012 at 10:38 am -

    wont be the same without a smoke hanging out of the top dogs mouth as shes slamming the press down on someones head

  16. ClaireBear October 4, 2012 at 9:36 am -

    I don’t think it will be the same as Prisoner Cell Block H nothing could beat it. They should make a more modern one with modern names and a modern prison and stuff like that

  17. jonasboi October 4, 2012 at 9:02 am -

    It surprises me that they would use the same characters, considering most would be either on the outside or dead… or retired…

    Why not create a new era of the show, I think that would work better.

    If you’re going to use the same characters use the same actors, maybe it could be called

    Prisoner: pensions in the slammer. lol

  18. Jake October 4, 2012 at 8:39 am -

    What about Tammy Mcintosh??? Is she not in the cast?

  19. David Knox October 4, 2012 at 7:59 am -

    No arguments there!

  20. tomothyd October 4, 2012 at 7:07 am -

    I think the award for worst sets in a tv show go to HeadLand, they were terrible and looked like foam and cardboard.

  21. daveinprogress October 4, 2012 at 6:18 am -

    Some great names there. I have always loved Kris McQuade going right back to Certain Women on the ABC in the mid 70′s – that husky voice!!!! Celia Ireland is a wonderful comedic/dramatic thesp and nice to see Leanna Walsman get another good role. I’m still not sure about keeping the original names such as Bea and Vera and Meg that are such dated names. And it makes it tough for the diehard Prisoner fans to avoid the comparisons. I’m yet to properly embrace this buzz word ‘reimagining’. But bring it on!

  22. mr darcy October 4, 2012 at 5:54 am -

    I’m not disputing the talent, nor the production. I’m sure it will be solid drama. I’m less thrilled at the reimagining and it’s plausible many other fans of the show may be too. As it holds such a special place for many people and given it was home to almost all the great female actors of it’s time and a launching pad for others, surely a cameo from some of the alumni would be a decent nod back to the – despite wafer thin sets and OTT acting – one of the best dramas to come out of Grundy’s.

  23. J Bar October 4, 2012 at 5:29 am -

    Why use the same character names but make so many changes to them? Why not just create a new show in the same setting? it could have had some similarities to the old show. That would have been so much better.

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