Synopsis by Brian J. Dillard
Before the phenomenal success of Footballers' Wives, British television studio Shed Productions unleashed Bad Girls, a one-hour drama about the inner workings of HMP Larkhall, a women's prison. Populated by hookers, junkies, murderers, and gangsters' wives, Larkhall's G-Wing provides a focus for the action in much the same way that Emerald City did on HBO's Oz, to which Bad Girls is often compared. Like many British soaps, Bad Girls features a revolving cast of characters. But at the outset, storylines focused on Shell Dockley (Debra Stephenson), a blond femme fatale whose sexual tastes run to female prisoners and male guards; Jim Fenner (Jack Ellis), a crooked "screw" whose manipulations and sexual gamesmanship threaten the lives of more than one prisoner; new wing governor Helen Stewart (Simone Lahbib), a staunchly feminist corrections officer whose desire to make a difference puts her at odds with her underlings; and Nikki Wade (Mandana Jones), a lesbian murder convict whose unbidden romantic feelings for Helen shake up both women's lives. Other characters include Zandra Plackett (Lara Cazalet), a pregnant junkie looking to go clean; Lorna Rose (Luisa Bradshaw-White), a guard who gets caught up in Zandra's difficulties; and the two Julies (Kika Mirylees and Victoria Alcock), twin hookers with hearts of gold. Since its 1999 premiere on ITV1, Bad Girls has remained a ratings draw and won numerous U.K. television awards. As of 2006, seven seasons had aired and an eighth was in production. Zoe Lucker reprised her signature Footballers' Wives role as Tanya Turner during a three-episode crossover in Bad Girls' sixth season.