LA Productions’ new drama Clink takes viewers into the tough environment of a women’s prison, tackling contemporary issues such as female genital mutilation.
Clink begins its run on Channel 5’s young adult channel, 5 Star, in April.
At a screening of the first two episodes, hosted by RTS North West at the Lowry Theatre, Salford in early April, executive producer and LA founder Colin McKeown spoke of the “importance of research and authenticity”.
Head of development Justine Potter described how, aided by charities, the Liverpool-based indie was able to speak to “former prisoners, ex-prison officers and governors, even managers of mother-and-baby units”. The writing and production were therefore “informed by, and faithful to, those inmates, procedures and stories”.
LA head of production and the producer of Clink, Donna Molloy, said she is proud that the show “shines a light” on women in prison, adding that “the system doesn’t work [for female offenders]”.
Potter echoed this view: “When men go to prison, women look after the children. But when women go to prison, whole families are decimated.”
The project was initiated in response to a request from Channel 5 commissioning executive Sebastian Cardwell for a “women’s prison drama”. The production process was facilitated, McKeown said, by Cardwell’s “demanding but trusting” attitude.
“The journey from conception to delivery [took] a mere 10 months,” continued McKeown – and just 10 weeks to shoot the 10-part series. Katherine Rose Morley, who plays newbie, Chloe, said that the rapid shooting schedule meant the actors had “to let that day go and get on with the next one”.
McKeown thought this “tight, yet effective, turnaround [was] one of the fastest on record”, and for this Molloy praised the “quality of the talent” behind the camera, as well as the “amazing cast”.
Unusually in television, most of “this incredibly supportive team” on both sides of the camera, Molloy said, were women. McKeown added that LA Productions has set out “to create more opportunities for women in the industry [and] Clink was the perfect vehicle”.
Developing talent is also part of the indie’s ethos. Gillian Kearney, who starred in LA’s BBC One daytime drama, Moving On, in 2013 makes her directorial debut on Clink. She is also set to to direct an episode of the next series of Moving On.
Clink was shot almost exclusively in Huyton, Liverpool using a Territorial Army barracks and nearby medical centre. McKeown was proud that “every aspect of the show was produced in-house and screams the North West, specifically Liverpool”.