TV Review: Screw

Such a pleasure to see Nina Sosanya leading a show and the dark humour of Screw suits her well

“You’re a convicted criminal, and i’m a brilliant liar

The campy shadow of Bad Girls lingers long over any prison-based TV show for me so I wasn’t initially sure that I’d give Screw a go. But nearly a year since it aired on Channel 4 and with a week off to fill, I decided to try it out and was pleasantly surprised. Created by Rob Williams, it flirts with both comedy and tragedy, sitting happily somewhere between soap and drama.

The marvellous Nina Sosanya leads the cast as Leigh Henry, prison officer on the all-male C-wing of Long Marsh Prison, so devoted to the job it is almost like she lives there. And as she goes for a promotion, the last thing she needs is a gobby new recruit (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell’s Rose Gill) to train up in her unique approach to the inmates, something not really shared with the rest of her team.

Comedy comes from the interactions of her colleagues – Stephen Wight’s Gary and Laura Checkley’s Jackie both hilariously blunt in their opinions of the regime – and also in a darker vein, in the banterish relationship between inmates and staff, a constant jockeying for influence and power. The reality about how most contraband gets into the prison never far from our minds. 

As a drama, secrets abound for both Leigh and Rose, their uneasy relationship further complicated by revelations that emerge throughout the series. And there’s an insightful look at the challenges of incarceration in the modern age – radicalisation, gender, mental health, all get explored with sensitivity and a light touch to keep the show from largely ever getting too dark. Good fun.

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