With just a few episodes left to shoot on the final season of Wentworth Prison, the cast and crew of the smash hit Australian drama are still in production at the show’s Melbourne studios despite the city being in lockdown again following a spike in coronavirus cases.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, actor Bernard Curry, who plays dodgy officer Jake Stewart, revealed the programme is almost at the finish line as the eighth season begins airing on UK screens on 5STAR from Wednesday 5th August.
“It’s been tough,” he admits. “We weathered the storm of the first wave then it started creeping up again when we relaxed restrictions. Now we are at level four which is really prohibitive. We hope this goes some way to mitigating this new wave and we can get it back down to manageable levels.
“But we are still able to continue working. We finished shooting season eight and have gone straight on to season nine, which airs next year. There are really good protocols in place to allow us to carry on filming, it’s really a testament to the producers and crew, everyone involved is taking it seriously. Fingers crossed we can continue this good run and get it all wrapped up.”
The gritty reimagining of cult favourite Prisoner: Cell Block H was given a reprieve after fan power convinced Foxtel network to reverse their decision to axe the show after 2019’s seventh season, ordering 20 final episodes showing as two seasons of 10.
“We were gifted a new lease of life,” smiles Curry. “These last few seasons are a blessing, and we are all grateful and happy for that.”
Curry’s conniving character has turned over a new leaf now he’s a father to ex-girlfriend Vera Bennett’s baby girl Grace, born while the governor was held hostage in a dramatic siege. Does this mean the extortion, blackmail and murder he was so fond of is all in the past?
“The theme this year is redemption, and Jake’s driving force is to redeem himself in Vera’s eyes to prove he is capable of being a good father. In the past he’s been prepared to cross a line to serve his own interests, but the transition for him now is doing that to protect Grace or Vera. Using his evil powers for good!”
There’s also the small matter of sadistic officer Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson returning from the dead. She’s secretly plotting revenge on Jake and his co-conspirators, Vera and fellow screw Will Jackson, who thought they’d buried her alive in season five. “How Ferguson is reintroduced is not what you’re expecting,” teases Curry. “It’s a slow burn and a beautiful twist, but under the surface something is simmering that will be a big payoff…”
Curry has worked consistently in Australian TV for decades, including memorable stints in hit exports Neighbours (as Luke Handley in the 1990s) and Home and Away (as Hugo Austin from 2009-2010), but cites the soon-to-end globally popular incarceration drama as a career highlight.
“Wentworth Prison has probably been the greatest professional experience of my life, I love this family environment we have created and feel my skills as an actor have grown.
“We are about to receive the last two scripts and I don’t know what happens to Jake in the end. It might be he has the ultimate redemptive arc with a final heroic act, dying as he tries to save Grace or Vera. But if he survives I’d definitely be up for a spin-off!”