Netflix is going behind bars. The streamer has ordered a new series of “Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons,” the factual series that looks inside notorious jails.
The SVOD service acquired the earlier version of the show, which was commissioned for Viacom’s Channel 5 in the U.K. It then started talking to the producers of the series, London-based Emporium Productions, about how to work up new episodes as a global original for the Netflix audience.
A new presenter, Raphael Rowe, has been added. A journalist, he served 12 years in a high-security prison in the U.K. for a murder he did not commit. In the four-parter, he embeds himself with prisoners in each jail for a week, sharing a cell with real inmates and taking part in their daily lives while incarcerated. He also joins the guards to discover the tactics they adopt to keep the peace in these volatile environments.
Rowe ventures into prisons in Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Ukraine and Belize in the new series, encountering extreme punishments, squalor and gang warfare.
“Going back inside to film this series was one of the most challenging decisions I’ve made,” Rowe said. “Taking on the persona of a prisoner in order to immerse myself in the daily life and routine of convicted criminals and the conditions they are held in around the world was dangerous. The conditions in these prisons are so tough for very different reasons, and the prisoners we spoke to offer an insight that is both captivating and chilling.”
Emporium was set up in 2015 by producer Emma Read and independent television production group Hat Trick. “The series reveals the unique attitudes to prisoners in different countries and cultures and the varied ways we balance human rights and public security,” Read said.
She executive produces alongside Gabe Solomon for Emporium. Olivia LaRoche commissioned the show for Netflix and also exec produces.