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Chalkboard TV to produce Inside Prison: Britain Behind Bars

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Chalkboard TV to produce Inside Prison: Britain Behind Bars

Life in Britain’s jails will be revealed on ITV in a new landmark documentary series as HM Prison Service opens up its cell doors with unique and unprecedented access for cameras across numerous prisons up and down the UK.

Inside Prison: Britain Behind Bars will be produced by Chalkboard TV which has secured an unparalleled range of access, filming in seven prisons spanning the men’s and women’s estates. The series will offer a 360 degree, unflinching look at life behind bars - seen through the eyes of the men and women on the frontline of Britain’s jails, the prison officers, and the prisoners they deal with on a day to day basis. The series is commissioned for ITV by Satmohan Panesar, Factual Entertainment Commissioning Editor, and Jo Clinton-Davis, Controller of Factual. Inside Prison: Britain Behind Bars is series produced by Fiona Inskip and series directed by Jamie Batten.

The series goes into prisons including women’s prisons HMP Send and HMP Downview, category B prisons HMP Bullingdon and HMP Isle of Wight, Youth Offenders in HMP Deerbolt and HMP Portland and category C prison HMP Erlestoke. 

Through the experiences of both trainee and veteran prison officers and the prisoners themselves, the series will offer a raw insight on what life on the inside is like for everyone in jail on both sides of the cell doors. It will examine the challenges presented to staff by escalating levels of violence across UK jails, and explore how officers, drawn from a broad range of backgrounds, ages and experiences, build and maintain relationships with prisoners from young offenders to vulnerable women. 

Alongside the often surprising and sometimes shocking aspects of life behind bars, the series will reveal how new recruits are now joining the HM Prison Service to spearhead its efforts to foster a rehabilitative culture to help turn prisoners’ lives around and combat Britain’s £15bn reoffending problem.

Panesar said:

“With the unrivalled scale of the access, we meet people on both sides of the bars with unbelievable stories that will simultaneously fascinate and frustrate. The extremes of life on the inside, from unexpected acts of compassion to seemingly mundane scenarios that can spark suddenly into violence, will be laid bare through the eyes of those working for the prison service and those detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.”

Chalkboard managing director and executive producer, Mike Benson, said:

“The modern role of Prison Officer is a fascinating combination of security officer, confidante and mentor. With the remarkable range access of access we've been given we have a brilliant opportunity to explore this evolving role and take a comprehensive snapshot of the prison service.”

About Chalkboard TV (

Chalkboard TV was founded in 2013 and is headed by Mike Benson. In four years, the company has established a reputation for producing daring, thought-provoking content for both the UK and international market. Recent UK commissions include BBC historical-crime returning series Murder, Mystery and My Family, winner of the Best Daytime Show Broadcast Award; BAFTA-nominated Channel 4 rig-camera show Life Behind Bars: Visiting Hour; kids series Logan High, now in its second series for CBBC; ITV comedy game show Don’t Ask Me Ask Britain; and Sky’s pioneering factual entertainment show My Wonderful Life. Cold Call is Chalkboard’s first drama commission, due to TX on Channel 5 in 2019. Chalkboard is part of IZEN, the international production group that also includes Elephant from France, Zebra from Spain and iMagic from the Middle East.