A contemporary “re-imagining” of iconic Australian series Prisoner has been commissioned by Foxtel.
Production company FremantleMedia, under the helm of director of drama Jo Porter, will produce Wentworth – a series set in the present, beginning with central character Bea Smith’s early days in prison. The storylines will include some of the original inmates and staff of the Wentworth Detention Centre (the fictional women's prison in Prisoner) and characters especially developed for the new series.
A spokeswoman said Lara Radulovich and David Hannam developed Wentworth from Reg Watson’s concept and characters.
Foxtel’s executive director of television, Brian Walsh, said it was not a remake of Prisoner – which aired in 14 countries and premiered on Ten in 1979 for an impressive 692 episodes. Foxtel will be hoping for a similar reaction.
“Wentworth will be a dynamic and very confronting drama series, developed and stylised specifically for subscription television audiences,” Walsh said in a statement. “We have told producers to push all boundaries and honestly depict life on the inside as it is in 2012.”
Walsh said it was a contemporary drama which brought new life to some of the great female characters many viewers came to love and loved to hate.
“There will be surprises, twists and turns all along the way. This is a major drama initiative for Foxtel which will engage existing Prisoner fans and entice entirely new audiences with its bold storytelling.
“We are especially delighted to work with FremantleMedia and their revitalised drama division under Jo Porter. I know that, after many successful years at Seven, Jo will bring a particular energy to this important drama project for Foxtel.”
Porter, the original producer of Seven hit Packed To The Rafters, said it was a compelling drama series about women, which would "take audiences inside a unique environment governed by its own rules".
“The series explores the politics of women in a world with few men, and how the experience both challenges and changes them, sometimes for the better,” she said.
“It’s a drama series built on the great Australian tradition of overcoming the odds to find mateship and belonging in the most unlikely circumstances. We’re very excited to be casting for so many strong female characters.”
FremantleMedia Asia Pacific chief executive Ian Hogg is confident of the series which he describes as “bold, relevant and adventurous”.
Wentworth – currently in Pre-Production – will be shot in Melbourne in the coming months.