BBC New Hit Drama “Time”


The BBC has a hit with it’s recent three-part drama series written by “Cracker” writer Jimmy McGovern, starring Sean Bean and Stephen Graham (the first two episodes were aired weekly on BBC One from Sunday 6 June at 9pm, with the full series available now as a boxset on BBC iPlayer)

McGovern is famous for his hard-hitting and gritty crime drama’s wanted to portray as realistically as possible life in a UK prison. The recently closed prison HMP Shrewsbury was the location of the fictional HMP Craigmore in the series.

In writing the drama McGovern said “Time is not a documentary  by any stretch of the imagination, it is still true to life… People really get to see what prison’s like and will hopefully come away questioning how possible any form of rehabilitation is in an environment like that.”

Time looks not only at the very dangerous environment in prisons today, but it also clearly explores issues such as mental health in prisons; including addiction (both in the alcoholism of it’s main character Mark Cobden a teacher who has killed a man through drink driving also gambling addiction of another character Paul, played by Kevin Harvey, is in prison for a robbing a betting shop), the effects of prison on family and loved ones and also most importantly a requirement for rehabilitation.

The drama also Siobhan Finneran, Sue Johnston, Hannah Walters (who play’s Stephen Graham’s partner and is in fact his real-life wife) , David Calder, Nadine Marshall, Michael Socha, Aneurin Barnard, Kadif Kirwan, Bobby Schofield, Jack McMullen, James Nelson-Joyce and a fine performance from Brian McCardie (as the prisons top-dog convict Jackson Jones).

Though the series sees seasoned  actors like Sean Bean and Stephen Graham in the main title roles the series I believe is enhanced greatly by the young actors like Jack McMullen and James Nelson-Joyce whose portrayal of young prison offenders, one whose offence was murdering a man and the other a prison repeated  recidivist acting as a prison bully.

One aspect of the drama that powerfully comes across is that there is no hard set rules on behaviour on ‘getting-on or getting-by’ in prison as the reality is that prison authority almost requires a symbiotic relationship between those prisoners higher up the pecking chain. We all know prison life almost has a differing opportunistic set of rules far higher than mainstream society where blackmail and quid-pro-quo applies. This drama highlights the prevalence of those in prison who seek out the weak and vulnerable to bully including prison officers.

Time is not a documentary..it is still true to life. People really get to see what Prisons Like”

Jimmy McGovern, writer of new BBC Drama ‘Time’

Plot Summary :

Mark Cobden (Sean Bean) is newly imprisoned, consumed by guilt for his crime, and way out of his depth in the volatile world of prison life. He meets Eric McNally (Stephen Graham), an excellent prison officer doing his best to protect those in his charge. However, when one of the most dangerous inmates identifies his weakness, Eric faces an impossible choice; between his principles and his family.

Sean Bean and Stephen Graham star as two men on the edge in this emotional and thrilling portrayal of life in a British prison. What does it take to survive?

Time is made by BBC Studios Production for the BBC. It was commissioned by Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer.

The Series is available on BBC iPlayer or in the BBC Drama – Time (Folder)

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