Jodie Whittaker has said that it was “important” to show menstrual blood in an episode of upcoming prison drama Time, where she plays inmate Orla who does not have access to period products.
The Doctor Who star, 41, said this was her “favourite scene” that she has ever filmed and that it tells audiences what comes “for free in prison” and what is a “commodity”.
Speaking to Radio Times about the second series of Jimmy McGovern’s Bafta-winning BBC series, now set inside a women’s prison, Whittaker said: “There’s a scene where Orla starts her period but she doesn’t have any sanitary towels.
“It’s very hard-hitting. That’s my favourite scene I’ve ever shot.
“I said ‘Is this going to be suggested, or is it going to be shot exactly how it’s written?’
“And it was shot exactly how I felt it should be – unapologetically.
“Showing the blood was so important. It’s brilliant because it tells you what comes for free in prison, what doesn’t, and what’s a commodity.
“Dehumanisation is absolutely in the fabric of the system.”
The series begins with three inmates arriving at Carlingford Prison on the same day – working-class mother-of-two Orla, drug addict Kelsey played by The Last Of Us star Bella Ramsey and Abi portrayed by The Silent Twins’ Tamara Lawrance.
Whittaker’s character is in prison for fiddling her electricity meter and the actress explained that she did so to provide for her children.
Whittaker said: “I’m not saying she didn’t break the law, but the domino effect of the decision to send her to prison and the lives ruined because of that are explored brilliantly.
“She’s a lioness. This isn’t a mother who has put her children at risk. She has kept her children out of risk by providing a safe and healthy environment.
“Who benefits from sending Orla to jail? Not one person.
“You as a member of the community are not protected because Orla’s off the streets, she’s not that kind of criminal. The prisons are full and three children are without their mother.”
The first series of Time, set in a men’s prison and starring Sean Bean, aired in 2021 and was a hit for the BBC, winning the mini-series award last year at the Bafta TV Awards.
Actor Stephen Graham, who played Eric McNally in series one, accepted the award with others who had worked on the show.
Whittaker, who played the 13th Doctor in long-running BBC series Doctor Who, has starred in other TV series including Broadchurch and The Assets.
Series two of Time airs on BBC One on Sunday October 29.