Prisoner reunites for 30th Anniversary

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The Channel TEN soap ran from 1979 to 1986. With its female ensemble of character actresses (many of whom performed without make-up), it was unlike anything that had been seen on Australian television. It even achieved popularity in the US, and remains a cult favourite in the UK.

Now many of the cast are gathering for a sold-out reunion in the grounds of the Nunawading studio that doubled as the Wentworth Detention Centre.

Val Lehman ("Bea Smith") has organised the event which will see Colette Mann, Sigrid Thornton, Jane Clifton, Amanda Muggleton, Carol Burns and more meeting fans from all over the world.

Fiona Spence, who played Vera "Vinegar Tits" Bennett, is thrilled the show is still fondly remembered.

"It's really nice that Val has organised this 30th Anniversary because it just brings back such nice memories of the cast and the fun that we had," she said.

"Australians took it to their hearts because they'd never seen anything like it. I guess there was a little touch of voyeurism as well, because there before the grace of god goes the lot of us.

"But we had interesting characters and great story lines. I think actually it was quite compelling. But we are talking about 1979!" she laughs.

Spence's character was the original villain in Prisoner, a stern warden played several years before Maggie Kirkpatrick entered as Joan "The Freak" Ferguson and wreaked havoc amongst the inmates.

"Vera was a disciplinarian and she was by the book. There was no way that she was corrupt. Whereas I think Maggie's character was bent. I spent a lot of time saying 'this is a prison, not a holiday camp!' and 'what's going on here, clean up that mess!'"

As to why the show has resonated for so long with fans, Spence simply says, "The people who love it, just love it. I can't say why."

Stars of Prisoner will also appear on 9am with David & Kim on Friday February 20th.

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