In a groundbreaking television event, a star-studded lineup including Eastenders actor Sid Owen, comedian and actor Tom Rosenthal, Gogglebox star Marcus Luther, singer HRVY, Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, and former MP Neil Parish will voluntarily subject themselves to life as prisoners for eight days in a decommissioned HMP Shrewsbury. This daring social experiment aims to delve deep into the realities of incarceration and shed light on the UK prison system.
The four-part documentary series, titled “HMP (wt),” will place the six well-known participants alongside a group of reformed ex-criminals who have agreed to re-enter prison for the purpose of the show. The famous inmates will have the unique opportunity to engage with their cellmates, questioning them about their prison experiences and past crimes. Their aim is to understand the impact of the system on these individuals, as well as explore the larger questions surrounding crime, punishment, and rehabilitation.
To ensure an authentic experience, the project is led by a former prison governor with two decades of experience in some of the UK’s most challenging correctional facilities. Supported by former prison officers, the inmates will adhere to the current rules and regulations governing UK prisons.
The ambitious documentary series was commissioned by Channel Head of Documentaries Alisa Pomeroy, in collaboration with Documentaries Senior Commissioning Editor Madonna Benjamin and Commissioning Editor Rita Daniels. Production will be handled by Shine, with executive producers Tim Whitwell and Tom Clarke, alongside series producer Emma Young.
Alisa Pomeroy expressed her enthusiasm for the project, stating, “This is the sort of television that Shine makes so brilliantly for C4, in the vein of precursors The Island and Hunted. Once again, they’ve constructed an immersive documentary precinct where real stories play out. We’ve always wanted to rig a prison with cameras at C4, and this series comes as close as possible, allowing us to explore some of the big questions about the UK prison system and whether it works.”
Tim Whitwell, one of the executive producers, emphasised the groundbreaking nature of the series, saying, “For the first time, we have rigged a prison to find out what really happens in the cells after bang up. This series aims to enthral and entertain, whilst kickstarting a national debate about crime and punishment.”
“HMP (wt)” promises to captivate audiences with its unprecedented exploration of life behind bars. By merging entertainment and social commentary, the series aims to provoke a much-needed national conversation about the UK’s prison system and its effectiveness in rehabilitating offenders.