“A TV experiment that for once truly earns the overworked telly-exec cliché of ‘bold television’”

Banged Up

Banged Up, Channel 4

“I didn’t have high hopes for this series – prison reform is a very serious topic that deserves careful consideration and nuanced debate: something for which reality television is not exactly renowned. But Banged Up was both entertaining and instructive, revealing the day-to-day struggles of life in an overcrowded, understaffed prison from the people who have experienced it first-hand.”
Emily Baker, The i

“Despite its identikit reality show ingredients – ritual humiliation of celebs, voyeurism, contrived scenario – Banged Up is compellingly watchable and even socially useful television. Short of installing CCTV in actual cells and filming real episodes of abuse, violence and mental health crisis in working prisons, it is about the nearest most of us will get to witnessing the life of a convict.”
Sean O’Grady, The Independent

“A TV experiment that for once truly earns the overworked telly-exec cliché of ‘bold television’. So far this immersive experience feels alarmingly authentic, the real-life former inmates having been brought back and re-enacting their banged-up personas with glee — an animalistic kind of glee, with lots of bellowed jokes about arseholes.”
James Jackson, The Times

“Banged Up’s greatest strength is the lie it gives to other prison-set documentaries. What passes for even the grittiest, most honest depiction of prison life stands revealed as a mere shadow of a thing. The threat of violence in Shrewsbury is everywhere and palpable.”
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian

“The involvement of the celebrities, somewhere between reporters and guinea pigs, is what got this commissioned. But the stars – although that’s probably not the word – are the former prisoners. Several were highly articulate and insightful about the way prison dehumanises.”
Jasper Rees, The Telegraph

“There’s nothing to be learned from watching three men who are vaguely familiar, but not famous, spending a week in a former prison with a bunch of ex-cons pretending to be inmates, watched over by a handful of retired screws. The whole thing was a shabby excuse for displays of violence, intimidation, machismo and toilet humour.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail