BBC drama Time filmed on site at Shrewsbury Prison
Time – at Shrewsbury Prison
You may have seen the new BBC One three-part drama series, airing on Sunday evenings at 9pm, called Time?
It was rather good don’t you think? What you may not know is that most of the filming took place right here, at Shrewsbury Prison!
One cloudy day in November 2020, the BBC took over the prison for a total of two months, bringing with them some of the Nation’s best loved actors, to create a gritty and realistic look into an otherwise unseen World…life behind prison walls.
Jimmy McGovern’s writing is dark and sombre, with some reviewers claiming that Time is ‘difficult to watch’ but for the right reasons. What McGovern has done is to create a piece of drama that is purposefully difficult, it must be, to show the realities of prison without sugar coating or ‘diluting’ the life that so many prisoners face once inside.
Filming took place over November and December 2020, with very strict COVID restrictions in place, which meant no one other than BBC authorised personnel/actors/staff could enter the prison. The BBC even lost Sean Bean for a few days after a COVID contact scare. There were testing points and hand sanitising stations all over the site and everyone adhered to the strict regulations closely.
The excitement in prison was palpable, sharing the same space as Sean Bean and Stephen Graham is not something that happens every day. Obviously, it was a bittersweet scenario as none of us could experience the filming because of the strict COVID regulations, however, we did manage to capture an image of Stephen from out of an office window!
Our ex-prison officer Graham had the immense honour of helping coach Stephen Graham as he prepared for his role as a prison officer. Officer G was on hand to offer advice and guidance about the realities of the job…he was even credited by Stephen in an interview for The Independent newspaper (he is now to be found carrying a copy of that interview on him, ready if questioned).
The comings and goings on site were always exciting, large trailers, catering trucks, lighting equipment, cameras, extras, all coming and going throughout the day made for an electric atmosphere…. any Land Rover with blacked out windows entering or leaving the site made a promise of carrying someone famous!
I think we can all agree that the result is spectacular, a true masterpiece of British writing and acting combined. Many ex-prison officers, and ex-prisoners have stated that Time is as close to the real prison experience as they have seen on television. And we believe this was McGovern’s plan, to give a truly realistic portrayal of doing ‘Time’, a wake-up call perhaps for the necessity of prison reform, from a system that seems broken, lost and in need of attention.
We now have the privilege of being the real-life set for what is sure to be one of the most highly rated pieces of television drama in Years. We have already welcomed visitors looking to stand in Sean Bean’s cell or visit Stephen Graham’s office and walk in the footsteps of Hollywood stars! And we hope that visitors will learn a lot on their journey with us, about how prison has changed over the past 200 Years, but that change is still ongoing, still adapting and learning.