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Series / Bad Girls (1999)
aka: Bad Girls

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Season 2

There are bad girls, and then there are the girls of Larkhall women's prison. This highly acclaimed, original and controversial drama explores the never-ending drama that occurs between the prisoners and the men and women who are paid to lock them up. Never shying from the darker side of prison life, Bad Girls celebrates the warmth, compassion and defiant sense of humour that can sometimes triumph even behind bars...

Bad Girls was a British Prison drama that ran from 1999 to 2006. Set in the fictional prison HMP Larkhall, it focused not only on the lives of the female prisoners, but also on the prison staff. The storyline concentrated on G-Wing, as opposed to the entire prison, but D-Wing has been mentioned on several occasions and a few episodes showed scenes from a men's prison.

The series was critically acclaimed and controversial at times, but ITV axed the series in 2006.

For those who have never heard of the show, it is similar in concept to Oz from the states, with both shows sharing a no-holds-bared approach to homosexuality and violence, although it would be unfair to say that Bad Girls is just a British version as it maintains its own style and originality, but parallels can certainly be drawn.

This game series provides examples of :

  • '80s Hair: Yvonne Atkins and her female mullet.
  • Abusive Parents: The backstory or FreudianExcuse for many of the characters
  • The Alcoholic: Bev and Phil, "The Costa Cons". In order to make their prison sentences easier, they're mostly permanently sloshed on either homemade hooch or smuggled booze.
  • Alpha Bitch: Natalie Buxton, many people have fit this trope until her introduction. Unlike Shell Dockley, she has no backstory, no family that she loves and no true friends. She is basically nothing more than an evil, cold hearted sociopath.
  • Anti-Hero: Shell Dockley, through out the series we discover it is her horrific past that makes her the way she is. She loves her children, her friend Denny and for a time she loved Fenner. She does some pretty nasty things, but it's hard not to love her.
  • Anyone Can Die: Major characters have been known to die, whether by suicide, accident or outright murder. And not just the cons. The guards tend to die just as easily.
  • Asshole Victim: Renee Williams and Jim Fenner
  • Ax-Crazy: Shell Dockley, full stop. Also Mad Tessa and Podger Pam.
    • Natalie Buxton surely also qualifies. She has a tendency to bite if you make her mad. Just ask Pat Kerrigan and Bev Tull.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In the end, it's Julie Johnston who ends up killing Fenner by stabbing him with an ice dagger, though it wasn't for lack of trying by everyone else.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Natalie Buxton. She is introduced as a meek, timid, pleasant woman who is in jail merely for getting behind on payments. It turns out she's a violent, bullying paedophile. Don't let her slim, small frame fool you either. She took down Darlene Cake!
    • Snowball Merriman. Introduced as a friendly, classy, glamorous American woman. Turns out she's a pornstar from Wigan who isn't above a bit of murder and blowing up the prison!
  • British Brevity: Averted. The first series ran for ten episodes and later series' would run for as many as sixteen.
  • Broken Bird: try finding a character who isn't one. Many of the characters come from horrific backgrounds of abuse and violence, and carry a lot of emotional scars as a result.
  • Butch Lesbian: Denny Blood (although she was able to girl herself up in one episode), Al Mackenzie.
  • Character Development: Many characters are developed through the series. In series 1, Shell Dockley is introduced as the archetypal bully, while series 2 follows her deconstruction and insight into her character. Denny Blood was a cruel, bullying thug in series 1, but by the time of her last episode, she was shipped to an open prison for her good behaviour.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A few characters vanished between series, never being mentioned again. The most notable one being Di Barker, a prominent character since series 2, completely disappeared after series 7, the worst part was that series 7 ended on a cliffhanger for her character and we never got to find out her fate.
  • Clint Squint: Yvonne Atkins has one frightening stare.
  • Closet Key: Nikki was apparently one of these for Helen.
  • Crossover: With Footballers Wives.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority:
  • Deadpan Snarker: Plenty.
  • Domestic Abuse: Barry Pearce subjects Di Barker to beatings and verbal abuse when their wedding is cancelled by Shaz. He manages to break her hand in the process. Fortunately, Shaz gives him a taste of his own medicine.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Governing Governor Joy Masters, a former soldier, often punishes prisoners with physical training.
  • Driven to Suicide: Several characters notably Rachel Hicks, Maxi Purvis, Snowball Merriman and Bobby Hollamby
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the hell prison puts her through, Nikki Wade finally wins her appeal and is released. On top of that, she ends up with Helen Stewart.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While Fenner is in no way above rape, murder (though, he does feel guilty over it) or corruption, child molestation is a Berserk Button for him. He even has a Villainous BSoD when his fellow inmates send him pictures of child pornography.
  • Evil Gloating: Fenner loves to do this.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Shell vs Fenner and Shell vs Snowball
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: Bodybag
  • Girls Behind Bars: Played with, deconstructed and reconstructed seventeen ways to Sunday.
  • Great Escape: Nikki Wade just might be the only prisoner in history who has to be broken back into prison after breaking herself out. Lucky everyone was so distracted by Shell stabbing Fenner that was going on at the time...
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Two prominent pairs: The Julies, a pair of Hookers With Hearts Of Gold who were arrested together and finish each other's sentences. One of them even cuts her hair in support when the other gets breast cancer. And then we have Bev and Phil, aka "The Costa Cons", who are the prison's resident moonshiners/booze smugglers.
  • High Turnover Rate: The G-Wing Governor's job, probably one of the most lethal desk jobs in the history of TV. Helen Stewart resigns over her relationship with Nikki Wade. Karen Betts is forced to resign twice (The second time, Fenner was gunning for the job). Jim Fenner resigns once and is killed the second time he holds the job. Sylvia Hollamby holds the job for about a day and loses it due to a disastrous riot. Di Barker is removed by Grayling and replaced by a former undercover cop. Grayling is demoted to the position and dies over it. It's a wonder anybody wants the job at all.
  • Happily Failed Suicide: Monica Lindsay
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The Two Julies
  • Improbable Self-Maintenance: The inmates are usually immaculately groomed and glamorous, and most of them with very feminine hairstyles, and often wearing lots of jewelery. Most real-life documentaries about a women's prison would show a different picture: far more prisoners with shaven heads, faces riddled with the effects of drug use, and wearing jewelery sparingly, in case it is stolen.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Nikki Wade, Helen Stuart, Cassie Tyler, Roisin Connor and Selena Geeson.
  • Manslaughter Provocation: What Nikki, Kris and Pat Kerrigan are all in prison for...
  • Meaningful Name: A vicious prison bully called Denny Blood. Though this became somewhat void as she softened throughout the series
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Many of the main characters in the series are victims to this. Though, even the ones who aren't will tell you otherwise...
  • Morality Pet: Monica Lindsey's mentally handicapped son, Spencer.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Di Barker is desperate for children; It's the main reason she becomes The Beard to Grayling and she tries to get kids out of Fenner, which leads to him getting a vasectomy.
  • Nice Guy: Dominic Mac Allister and Josh Mitchell
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Simon Stubblefield, the Governing Governor, is this in spades.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted by the Julies. Played for laughs in that they are also Heterosexual Life-Partners who finish each other's sentences.
  • Parental Favoritism: Tina and Maxi's father
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Fenner (again) and Bodybag
  • Prison Rape: Not rape but the decrutching Zandra is subjected to is clearly sexual assault
  • Put on a Bus: Nikki literally gets put on a prison bus in the Series 1 finale, as Helen is made to think she's been behind some rather nasty goings-on in G-Wing. Everything gets sorted out once the real schemer is found, but Nikki is understandably quite hurt by the experience.
  • Rape as Backstory: A Freudian Excuse for several female villains though this is Truth in Television as a lot of women in prison have been sexually abused. At least one major character is in jail for killing their attacker.
  • Rape as Drama: When Fenner rapes Karen
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Or at least Child Sexual Abuse is a special kind of evil. Characters such as Natalie Buxton and Caroline Lewis are depicted as 100% evil and are never shown any sympathy compared to murderous characters like Shell Dockley and Maxi Purvis who are generally shown as evil but occasionally given Pet the Dog and Freudian Excuse moments
  • Really Gets Around: Fenner with the prisoners although he does this by either taking advantage of the vulnerable or swapping sexual favors.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Rachel Hicks is possibly the only character in all eight series to have not one ounce of happiness during her time at Larkhall, even Zandra Plackett and Snowball Merriman had moments of happiness at times. Rachel is bullied by Shell and Denny, manipulated by Fenner and to top it all off her mother gives away her child, the only thing that was keeping poor Rachel sane, her final appearance in episode 4 was a tearjerker.
  • Straight Gay: Neil Grayling. He even marries Di Barker to try and keep his sexual orientation a secret.
    • Seems to be a recurring theme for the G-Wing Governors...
  • Stalker with a Crush: Di Barker
  • The Vamp: Snowball Merriman, Natalie Buxton and Shell Dockley. Maxi Purvis also had elements of this
  • Took a Level in Badass: Shaz, after she learns martial arts.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • Maxi Purvis does this with Yvonne
    • Darlene does this with Natalie in the Series 6 finale.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Al Mackenzie, a Butch Lesbian thug with a Hair-Trigger Temper.

Alternative Title(s): Bad Girls