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49 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj49 and id is 1 raw text is: 



The Howard journal Vol 49 No 1. February 2010 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2311.2009.00584.x
ISSN 0265-552 7, pp. 1-17




'I'm Making a TV Programme Here!':

         Reality TV's Banged Up and

                 Public Criminology


         DAVID WILSON and NIC GROOMBRIDGE
David  Wilson is Professor of Criminology and Criminal justice, Birmingham
   City University; Nic Groombridge is Senior Lecturer in Media Arts and
             Sociology, St Mary's University College, London


Abstract: This article examines the TV series Banged Up and media reactions to it.
In doing so it seeks to argue that it served a wider public service purpose, or public
criminology, than simply entertainment. A number of other 'experiments' and the
crossover between those and reality TVare also explored. The series was not universally
admired and no attempt is made to hide this. In addition to engaging with theoretical
matters the experience of one of the authors of being part of the programme is set out.


Keywords:  public criminology; reality TV; Banged Up

Perhaps  the most  famous  finding in social psychology, derived from
Zimbardo's  early 1970s  Stanford Prison Experiment,'  is that college
students given sufficient power and a uniform can become tyrants. Less
well-known  might  be  the BBC's  rerun  of the  experiment  in 2002,
broadcast as The Experiment2 which called into question Zimbardo's findings
and  sparked related academic work  (for instance Haslam and  Reicher
(2003) and interviews with the Guardian and the Psychologist).' Banged Up -
a series of four, one-hour episodes shown on Britain's Channel 5 in 2008 -
which  saw a number   of persistent young offenders being temporarily
'imprisoned' in a disused jail in England, and who were then filmed as they
attempted to come  to terms with 'prison life', also laid claims to being an
'experiment'. Thus David  Blunkett, the former Home  Secretary (2001-
2004) who  chaired the prison's 'parole board' on screen, explained to
Decca  Aitkenhead  (the Guardian, 7 July 2008) that Banged Up  was an
'opportunity to conduct an experiment I failed to complete while in office'.
One  aspect of this 'experiment' - to scare offenders away from crime - has
been attempted  in the USA but this was a first for British television. But
how  far can we say that this experiment succeeded, and to what extent did
the practicalities of making the programme shape how it progressed? More
importantly, did the series create a better understanding of the issues that

                                  1
0 2010 The Authors
journal compilation 0 2010 The Howard League and Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ UK

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