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August 09 Edition Cover

Prisoner fans relive the glory days

27 Feb 2019

Prisoner fans relive the glory days Image

By David Schout

An international fan group of ‘80s TV show “Prisoner” have converged on Docklands to celebrate the show’s 40th anniversary.

On February 23, fans both local and abroad (including the UK and US) hopped aboard Docklands’ Steam Tug Wattle – a 1930s era tugboat used as a set in a number of the show’s episodes.

The fan group, known as Partners in Crime, visited other Melbourne locations used during the show’s run (1979-1986) on the day. But organiser Barry Parker said securing brunch aboard the Wattle was their “big coup”.

The steam-powered tugboat was used as a set in episodes 641-643 (of 692) of Prisoner, an Australian soap set in the fictional women’s prison Wentworth Detention Centre.

In the specific episodes, four inmates were given work release on the Wattle to learn ship-maintenance skills and “get some fresh air”.

One of the inmates planned to use her temporary freedom to kill a prison rival, and eventually sabotaged the vessel’s inlet valve.

Partners in Crime was formed in 1998 in the UK city of Derby.

The fan club produced a series of newsletters and fanzines called The H Block Herald, a nod to Cell Block H – the show’s name in the UK.

In it, they detailed their attempts to find out information about the show and track down cast members, a distinct challenge in the pre-internet days.

Original founder Roz Vescsey also successfully lobbied for the show’s re-run on UK television, and eventually moved to Australia in 2001 where she kept the group going.

These days, the group organise annual fan and cast get-togethers in Melbourne through its Facebook page.

The group was particularly keen for their celebration of the show’s 40th anniversary to include an event aboard the Wattle, a ship in the final stages of a 10-year restoration.

Jeff Malley from the Bay Steamers Maritime Museum, the volunteer organisation restoring the Wattle, said it wouldn’t be long til we see her return.

“The Wattle will be steaming on Docklands very soon,” he said.

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