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Strangeways - A review by Andrew Bremner

Strangeways poster

Written by : published Friday 27th May 2011

Watch Strangeways here


I've become more and more aware that my reviews are slightly heavy handed towards the poor television. I love television it has produced some of the most moving, beautiful and well written things ever known. It is however also turning into an anus that spews crap in our general direction at every possible turn.

Wait, don't close the page never to return keep reading and hear me out. For every Doctor Who, Sherlock and Louis Theroux there are thousands of Snog Marry Avoid's and Super Sweet 16's. I do know however that the idea of television is that of choice and personal preference and one man’s disease ridden bubonic plague pustule is another man’s beauty spot. However there are some programmes that are all things to all men. A cancerous wart and a beautiful piece of the human anatomy. I am of course talking about "Strangeways" (ITV4) the documentary set not surprisingly in Her Majesty's high security prison Strangeways. When I was talking about television spewing shite at us it has never been more literal that this programme.


The concept is simple. Big Brother but with actual inmates instead of volunteers and no evictions pretty much sums it up.  There is an inmate called David staging a dirty protest in his cell in order not to be moved without a wheelchair despite the fact he can walk. If you don't know what a dirty protest is I encourage you to Google it. The pictures certainly make for interesting viewing. The guy is from my home town which is slightly heartbreaking because I happen to know that this may not be a dirty protest and he is probably just a scruffy bastard.  The little series is disturbing though because we get to see a side of the story that we never usually see. My entire knowledge of prison previous to this was from “Porridge” which I feel might not give an accurate portrayal of prison life. It did wilfully gloss over being stabbed with a sharpened toothbrush after spurring “Big Tony’s” advances in the shower.


The programme from psychological point of view is very interesting. We get to see into the minds of dangerous criminals through the safety of our televisions. As close as we can be without them ripping out our spines and using them as toothpicks. If I was a reader of a particular British newspaper who for legal reasons I shall call the "Daily Rail" I could be convinced that giving these madmen license to pollute our children’s minds would cause them to go and smear shit all over their bedrooms so they can get a new video game in which they can kill kill kill. I don't have that particular view I am of the school of thought that people need to be educated in all ways of life and even the most evil parts of human history need to be studied so we can learn more about what goes on in the minds of people who shouldn't be trusted with anything sharper than a sponge.


Strangeways is ethically a problem, the human equivalent of training a captive bear to dance but what a dance, shuffling its feet to the sound of capturing the actions and minds of the captive. Plus it could provide a whole new breeding ground for reality TV spawning such feckless attempts as Strangeway’s got Talent and Shiv Marry Avoid.


If you can think of any more prison related television titles send me them over twitter.

About the author Andybrem92


Im a British Stand-up comic, Radio Panellist, Writer and Broadcast Journalism Student.   www.twitter.com/andybrem92

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