“Compelling” Wentworth off to solid start in UK

Foxtel drama Wentworth has launched to raves in the UK , as the second highest rated title in its time slot.

2013-05-02_0038Foxtel drama Wentworth has launched to raves on Channel 5 in the UK, pulling an audience of 1.8 million viewers.

With a 10.8% share, it performed an impressive 121% above Channel 5’s prime time average and ranked as the second highest rated title in its time slot amongst all viewers, beaten only by BBC News (3.2 million viewers).

Wentworth Prison, as it is known there, managed to beat News on ITV (1.4m), The Last Leg on Channel 4 (0.9m) and The Culture Show on BBC2 (0.5m).

The show was also trending on Twitter in the UK:

  • Woah #Wentworthprison
  • LOVE the new wentworth prison programme!!!!
  • Omg did anyone else watch Wentworth Prison last night?!!! Omg I love it!
  • watching last nights #WentworthPrison omg, this is gonna be a great series
  • If anyone says that frankie is not sexy they need their eyes tested #perfectwoman #WentworthPrison
  • Watched Wentworth Prison last night and now all I’ve got in my head is Clitty licker hahahahahahaha
  • Enjoyed #WentworthPrison so much that I’m watching it again.
  • watching Wentworth prison, frankie is a hot and hard bitch.
  • I now have a thing for Danielle Cormack aka Bea Smith (Wentworth Prison)
  • I haven’t watched a programme as good as Wentworth Prison is such a long time
  • Was totally blown away with #wentworth prison on channel five…just not what I was expecting

Amongst the reviews were:

 It was unremittingly gritty, but also stylishly and grippingly filmed. Bea was so vulnerable that you felt desperately concerned as she pined for her daughter, suffered traumatic flashbacks to her life at home and found herself caught up between two rival gangs. The final showdown between Franky (Nicole da Silva) and Jacs (Kris McQuade), a young tattooed lesbian and a schoolmarmish matron, laced with malice as they fought over who would be top dog, was so compelling – and the cliffhanger so agonising – that it would be a crime to miss the next instalment.

Wentworth Prison in 2013 has upped its budget and upped its production values but it’s kept the original recipe of simmering sexual tension, abusive power tripping and jaw-dropping soundbites (altogether too obscene to publish here for fear you’re reading before the watershed), all served up in hard-as-nails Aussie accents.

Express and Star:
The brutality and the suffering Bea has endured is shown in detail in this scene and it’s where Wentworth Prison is at its darkest and grittiest. As a viewer you hope moments like that are more frequent as opposed to the cringeworthy one liners such as Meg’s ‘we don’t negotiate with prisoners’ and the painful-to-watch ‘Gangs of New York’ styled knife fight in the prison yard at the end of the episode. As a drama Wentworth Prison delivered enough to leave you thirsty for more, but left a bitter taste that Bea’s personal hardship may be let down by the obligation for cliché storylines. If you want to see a female protagonist struggle with the reality of life in jail, then Wentworth Prison is for you. If you want to see the cold hearted brutality of prison politics you could be left disappointed . . . but there is life in this series yet.

Audiences and critics alike have applauded Wentworth describing it as some of the best television to come out of Australia in a very long time. Considering Neighbours and Home and Away are about the only TV shows anyone can name from down under that isn’t saying very much. The main criticism I had though was perhaps they shoehorned too much in to a single episode. After only an hour we’d had graphic sex, domestic violence, drug muling and right at the conclusion of the episode a murder mystery. Are we to believe this is a typical day in Wentworth Prison? How can the next day top it? Or the next day? Sometimes it makes more sense to start off slow but I guess the producers didn’t get the memo.

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