Within These Walls (1974)
Drama series Within These Walls offered up quite a rare glimpse at the time into the world of a prison for female inmates. Cinema icon Googie Withers initially played Prison Governor Faye Boswell and dealt with all manner of recalcitrant inmates whose problems ranged from going on a hunger strike to abuses of privilege and even the odd escape attempt.
Faye only stuck around for the first three seasons when the new Governor became Helen Forrester, after a single season and some early filming on season five Katharine Blake who played Helen Forrester fell ill and was replaced at short notice (Forrester had supposedly left to study women’s prisons in Europe) by Susan Marshall (played by Sarah Lawson).
Regulars inside the prison on the staff were Charles Radley the deputy governor, prison doctor Peter Mayes and Chief Officer Mrs Armitage. The show ran for five seasons and was considered pretty realistic in its day but now seems pretty tame when compared to something like Bad Girls but then again the focus of the series is always more on the Governor and her staff than the prisoners themselves although they do generally provide the catalyst for most storylines.
Within These Walls is a great example of strong 1970’s TV drama with plenty of space for storylines to unfold. Quite a few well known actresses appeared as inmates during the shows run including the likes of Elizabeth Adare, Lois Baxter, Angharad Rees, Tessa Wyatt, Cheryl Campbell and Cheryl Hall. David Butler who created the series and wrote many of the episodes also made occasional appearances as Prison Chaplain the Reverend Prentice and Mona Bruce who played Mrs Armitage also co-scripted three episodes of the series with Robert James.
On the ITV Network on Sunday 11 January 1976 @ 6.50pm Googie Withers made a special five minute appeal on behalf of the National Association of the Care and Resettlement of Offenders for funds to help homeless women and their children, to tie in with the series (the producer was Keith Farthing for ATV).
One episode from the series, season two’s Nowhere For The Kids is missing from the archives.
Broadcast 4 January 1974 – 15 April 1978