Wentworth's wayward women

Forty years ago, on 27 February 1979, one of Australia’s most addictive soap operas debuted on Network Ten.

It finally came to an end after nearly eight years and 692 episodes, on 11 December 1986.

That was when millions tuned in to see if Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson would finally get her comeuppance. Ferguson was the corrupt officer who unofficially ruled Wentworth Detention Centre with an iron fist (or should we say, leather glove?) on the show produced by the Grundy Organisation.

Prisoner also had great success in many territories, particularly the UK (where it was known as Prisoner Cell Block H and even inspired a musical stage show). It generated a short-lived spin-off set in a male prison (Punishment, featuring a young Mel Gibson), a US remake (Dangerous Women) and an award-winning re-imagining (Wentworth).