Film ID:
NEFA 10842



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A Tyne Tees Television programme presented by Philip McDonnell on life inside Durham Prison. There are views of the daily routine of prisoners from 'slopping out', being at work or education to exercise. There are interviews with the prison governor, doctor and chaplain and the film includes voice-overs of prisoners talking about life inside.

Title: Tyne Tees Television Presents

The film begins with a unique view of Durham Cathedral which can only be seen from the exercise yard inside Durham Prison.

Title: The Insiders.

Standing outside the main gates, presenter Philip McDonnell states that Durham Prison has a reputation of being the toughest prison in Britain. This programme will show the 'world of the prisoner' and offer a unique view for the viewers as 'outsiders' to see what life is like inside for those serving time; 'the insiders'.

A new prisoner arrives and is processed by the prision officers. There are views of one of the main cell blocks and inside one of the cells, which can hold up to three prisoners. There are various views of some of the personal items inside the cell. Philip McDonnell says that prisoners come to the north east from Hull in the south to the Scottish Borders in the north.

Interview with the Prison Governor Mr Newton who says that the physical conditions are overcrowded but work is being done to improve this.

The film cuts to show a new prisoner meeting the 'reception board' which decides how each prisoner is to be treated and housed.

The film then shows the daily life for prisoners. A prison officer looks at his watch. It is 7.30am and he and two other officers unlock the cells. Inside one cell three prisoners get dressed and clean their cell, which includes 'slopping out'. Breakfast is served in the cell on metal trays and tea is poured from a large jug into three mugs.

Officers escort prisoners around the prison. There are views of prisoners at work in a wood shop, making rope and rope nets, and in a metalwork shop supervised by officers. A prisoner stencils 'Post Office' onto a sack. A sack is sewn.  In a large warehouse many prisoners sit at sewing machines making shirts.

Prisoners exercise in the yard. Many are carrying small bags containing their clean washing. A pair of tattooed hands roll a cigarette. As the prisoners walk around the yard, some are seen wearing different uniforms identifying them as either custodians or those considered in danger of escaping. In a separate smaller exercise yard those prisoners considered especially dangerous are supervised by a number of guards.

Through a cell door observation window on a locked door, there's a view of the prison hospital ward. Interview with the prison doctor Dr Waddington who says that in general being a doctor in prison is not so different from being any other doctor. However, he believes it would take five years experience for any doctor to be able to work in a prison.

In the prison kitchen, interview with a Prison Officer who is also the head chef. He is sharpening a large carving knife. There are shots of the kitchen and prisoners preparing food. Two prisoners remove loaves of bread from an oven, whilst others chop vegetables. Prisoners line up in the cell block to be fed their evening meal on metal trays.

Prisoners play basketball in a courtyard.

In a classroom prisoners take lessons, whilst in a studio, other prisoners paint. A number of pieces of prisoner art hang from the walls of the prison.

One picture of Durham Cathedral hangs from the wall of the Prison Chaplain's office. Interview with the chaplain about what impression he can make on the individual prisoner. He says that he provides individual contact and is simple and down-to-earth. There are views of a service taking place inside the chapel.

Various shots of prison officers at work around the prison. The Governor is interviewed again and states that prisoners from London don't want to come to Durham, and when they are here they don't mix with local prisoners. He believes the prison is strict but not unnecessarily so.

The films ends with Phil McDonnell leaving the prison.

Title: We gratefully acknowledge the help given to us by the governor and staff at H.M. Prison Durham.

End Credit: Written by Tom Hutchinson

End Credit: Cameraman Eric Coop

End Credit: Sound Recordist Gerry Barnes

End Credit: Directed by Tommy Tomlinson

End Credit: Executive Producer Leslie Barrett

End Credit: Produced by Lisle Willis

End Credit: A Tyne Tees Television Production