Before Strangeways: A look at life before the protests

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Before the Strangeways protests in 1990, documentary filmmaker Rex Bloomstein created the series, Strangeways. 

Broadcast in 1980, Strangeways explored daily life in the Manchester prison before the protests, showing the public what life was like for those imprisoned. 

Rex Bloomstein is a speaker at our upcoming conference, After Strangeways: The Past, Present and Future of Prisons, along with Eric Allison who, after watching the docu-series, wrote in The Guardian

...back in 1980, they allowed cameras into a prison for the first time, into Strangeways. The programme maker, Rex Bloomstein, was given unprecedented time and access to operate a "fly on the wall" method and over time staff forgot the cameras were rolling as they went about their business.

The series won two BAFTAs and Rex was commissioned by BBC2 in 2001 to follow Strangeways up with Strangeways re-visited in 2001. On the significance of the documentary, Rex considers that:

Strangeways 1980 was an unprecedented opportunity to reveal the tensions and squalor of prison life in detail not seen one inmate says, 'this place will go and and when it does man, the roof will go off'. Ten years later it did.

We are delighted to be able to share the opening few minutes of the first episode.