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Strangeways: Britain's Toughest Prison Riot

Documentary about the Strangeways Prison riot in Manchester, April 1990, featuring candid and revealing interviews with the former prison governor, inmates and staff.

Nearly 30 years after the biggest riot in British penal history, this film brings together the ringleaders of the trouble with the prison guards they battled with over three weeks of anarchy that brought Strangeways to its knees.

The events are told through unparalleled access to the people at the heart of the riot, including the governor Brendan O'Friel, who was faced with the task of trying to regain control of his prison.

Former prisoners describe the explosion of violence that erupted on 1 April 1990, when 1,600 angry inmates escaped from their cells and ran amok through the prison. Many were seeking revenge and reform for what they saw as years of suffering under an archaic and sometimes brutal regime in the overcrowded Victorian prison.

In the bloody mayhem that followed, prison officers describe fearing for their lives as they were driven out of the building, leaving prisoners to settle scores and hunt down sex offenders, showing no mercy whilst the prison burned around them.

Candid testimony from ex-inmates, prison officers and the governor himself creates a compelling story of the struggle for power between the authorities and the hardcore prisoners who ultimately took their protest onto the prison roof. The stand-off that followed is documented until the final moments, when the siege was ended in a dramatic takedown in front of rolling news cameras.

1 hour

Last on

Wed 12 Sep 2018 22:00


Role Contributor
Director David Belton
Executive Producer Morgan Matthews
Producer Sally Brindle