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Prisoner: Cell Block H – Live In Concert

A serious drama show does a song and dance routine in spectacular train-wreck TV.

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A serious drama show does a song and dance routine in spectacular train-wreck TV.

In 1979, a soap opera based on a fictitious life in a women’s prison was launched on Channel 10, called Prisoner. Australia and the world would follow the imprisoned lives of Franky Doyle, Lizzie Birdsworth, Vera “Vinegar Tits” Bennett, “Queen” Bea Smith, Jeanette “Mum” Brooks, Doreen Anderson, Marilyn Mason, Margo Gaffney, Officer Joan “The Freak” Ferguson and many more.

The hour long soap broke new grounds with controversial story lines, such as feminism, homosexuality, violence and social reform. It made some of its stars household names, like Collette Mann, Jane Clifton, Paula Duncan, Maggie Kirkpatrick, as well as parodies from sketch shows and a ratings success in the overseas market, like the U.S. and the U.K. The show wrapped up in 1986 with 692 episodes were produced over 8 seasons, and has one of the biggest DVD box sets ever released.

But you won’t see this in the box set.

In 1981, a televised event was screened on Channel 10. To cash in on the popularity of Prisoner, some of the cast members from the show got together and performed a variety half hour at Pentridge Prison with song and dance routines. All in front of actual prisoners.

Watch as songs like Jailhouse Rock being performed – inside a prison, Y.M.C.A. opening with costumes galore, Sheila Florence (who plays Lizzie) sing the tune Steam Heat… I’m not going to say any more without spoiling. Just grab a coffee and enjoy this rare Australian magic.

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