Like its mother Prisoner, Bad Girls combines all of the essential ingredients for brilliant prison television -“ grit, prison, lesbianism and bad acting. Like Prisoner, Bad Girls is always on at a past-bedtime timeslot, only to be happened upon by keen lesbians and random late-night channel surfers.

How lesbian is Bad Girls? It’s possibly more lesbian than The L Word. When Bad Girls first screened on Australian television, dykes were quick to pick it up. At Bad Girls parties, women dressed as characters from the show, most commonly hot lesbian Nikki Wade (Mandana Jones) -“ inside for knifing a bent policeman who was trying to rape her girlfriend, the co-owner of a popular London lesbian bar. Partners of said would-be killers often dressed as poor prison governor Helen Stewart (Simone Lahbib), who spent Series One flirting with Nikki, eventually falling in love with her. She ditched her wet metrosexual fianc?n the process.

Real-life Bad Girls would most likely turn up as Shell Dockley (Debra Stephenson), the psychopath ex-prostitute with a history of very violent crime. Or as Shell’s inside girlfriend Denny Blood (Alicya Eyo), a victim of a lifetime of abuse and proud owner of an appropriately bad neck tattoo. Baby dykes are most likely to identify with Shaz Wylie (cute northerner Lindsey Fawcett), the teenager in prison for murdering people in a prank gone wrong.

In the current series showing on Channel Seven, Shell and Denny have escaped, thanks to a brilliant plan involving -“ of course -“ a key made from a bar of soap. They did this with the aid of bent screw Jim Fenner (Jack Ellis), who Shell once tried to kill while they were having sex in a cell. In the past couple of weeks they’ve turned up at Sylvia Bodybag Hollamby’s house, to terrorise everyone’s least-favourite prison guard and her funeral director husband. Helen Fraser, the actor responsible for Bodybag, is a famous bit actor in British television. I recently discovered her playing the part of a woman mistaken for a man in the very first episode of Man About The House, from 1973.

Unlike SBS’s Oz, there’s little sex in Bad Girls, and the violence is usually hinted at rather than full-frontal.
Which is all the more reason why Bad Girls should be shown at a more accessible time.

Bad Girls screens at about 1am on Friday nights on Channel Seven.

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