The Wives are back

Prisoners' Wives.
Prisoners' Wives.
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Thi FOR many of us life behind bars would be our worst nightmare.

It certainly isn’t designed to be as jolly a jape as that depicted in classic comedy Porridge, where the ‘lags’ spend most of their time getting one over on the hapless wardens.

Less amusing looks at life in prison tend to focus on how terrible and brutal it can be. But Prisoners’ Wives is a little bit different.

As the title suggests, it examines what it’s like to be separated from a loved one while they’re banged up. Those featured are, in a sense, being punished too - after all, they’re having to deal with everything life has to throw at them without the support of their nearest and dearest, not to mention cope with the stigma attached to their situation.

The first series, which aired early last year, was a hit, averaging just over five million viewers per episode, so it comes as no surprise to see it back for a new run. Once again it was shot and is set in Sheffield,

Polly Walker returns as gangster’s wife Francesca, whose ties with the criminal underworld are about to catch up with her.

“It was easy to return to the role of Francesca,” says the actress. “There is still such a great story to tell and I hope viewers will enjoy the journey, with all its twists and turns, that she and her family take this time.”

Pippa Hayward couldn’t wait to get back on set either as Harriet, whose son Gavin is behind bars: “She’s a character of such range and depth it is an absolute pleasure to step back into her shoes again. She returns with great gusto and continues to grow through her prison connections.

“There are fantastic new characters and storylines that will keep the audience on the edge of their seats once again. We have had such an amazing response from the public - I’m sure they will enjoy this series as much as the first. I think they’re in for a treat.

“We have some rather beautiful scenes this time. Instead of all the very urban interior prison environments with my new romantic connection I get to go and walk Basil up on the Peak District and so I went up there. We were all really looking forward to these scenes getting out into the beautiful countryside which I always love going

out into when I’m here filming anyway, I go for myself, and I spoke to the director the day before and I said, “You know it is October, are we gonna be all right on the weather front?” And he said, “Don’t worry Pippa, the only thing that’s ever stopped me filming before is fog, so what’s the likelihood of that?”

“Next day I get up, open the curtains, solid fog. Solid, solid fog. Couldn’t see to the end of your nose. So we had one other scene which comes after the walk in a pub so we went into the pub and filmed that scene, and hoping that the fog was going to have lifted by the time we came out but no it was still impossible and, and this character’s supposed to walk out into the

beautiful Peaks and say, “Ah it’s so lovely to share all this with you.”

We filmed it - “Share, share, share what? You know it could be anything at all behind this blank wall of fog.”

David Bradley and Iain Glen also return to the cast, but there are some new faces too, including Karla Crome as Aisling, the teenage daughter of a repeat offender who, in the opening episode, is desperate for her dad to mend his ways, and Sally Carman as mother-of-three Kim, the wife of a man wrongly accused of a terrible crime.

She’s convinced the accusations are being made for malicious reasons, but nobody seems interested in anything she has to say.

She has three sons, two of them played by local boys Callum and Joshua Lambert (see page 2).

Writer Julie Gearey says of the new series: “It’s been very exciting to return to the world of Prisoners’ Wives and have the opportunity to create fresh stories for Francesca and Harriet and introduce our brand new characters, Kim and Aisling.

“The second season will continue the mix of compelling character-driven stories with some dark twists and more than a little romance.”

Prisoners’ Wives 2, BBC One, Thursday, March 14, 9pm.