In 2021, BBC One brought viewers the prison drama Time, starring Sean Bean as a new inmate and Stephen Graham as a prison officer torn between his principles and his family.
With that cast – and the fact that it came from Jimmy McGovern, the writer whose hugely impressive CV includes Cracker, The Street and Accused – expectations were high, but Time more than managed to live up to them. The series attracted a hugely impressive average of 11.6 million viewers across its three-part run, won the 2022 BAFTA Television award for best mini-series and was roundly acclaimed by viewers and critics alike.
So, it was almost inevitable that there would be a second series, but the new run doesn’t just pick up where the original show left off. This time McGovern and co-writer Helen Black, whose credits include the BAFTA-nominated Life and Death in the Warehouse, are taking viewers into a women’s prison and introducing us to a new set of inmates.
While the characters may be new, they are played by some very familiar faces. Former Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker is coming back down to Earth by taking a starring role.
She’s joined by Bella Ramsey, who has been having quite a year. The actor, who identifies as nonbinary, first caught many viewers’ attention in Game of Thrones and went on to win acclaim in the 2022 film Catherine, Called Birdy.
Then earlier this year, they starred alongside Pedro Pascal in The Last of Us, which confirmed their status as a rising star.
There’s also a key role for Tamara Lawrance, who has previously appeared in No Offence and The Long Song, and is certainly thrilled to be playing a prisoner in Time.
She says: “Being a part of women-centred stories and productions is very important to me, as well as projects that challenge a prejudice. Time series two humanises a sector of society that is too often and easily vilified by elucidating the layered reasons why people end up in the criminal (in)justice system.
“I’m excited for us to platform the complexity of these characters and their experiences.”
The first episode introduces us to their characters, who are drawn into each other’s orbit when they arrive at Carlingford prison on the same day.
Single mother Orla (Whittaker) is trying to keep her children out of care and is desperate to get her life back on track, while young heroin addict Kelsey (Ramsey) faces a difficult decision.
Meanwhile, life Abi (Lawrance) may seem tough, but she has a sinister secret that threatens to put her safety at risk.
And anyone who is still wondering how the new run of Time will live up to the first may be glad to know there is one returning character – prison chaplain Marie-Louise, played by Happy Valley’s Siobhan Finneran.
She says: “I am delighted to be returning for Time two. It was a privilege to be involved in the first series and to be asked back is an honour, the scripts are again heartbreakingly brilliant.”