|Worth seeing:||for Tamara Lawrance's warm but firm turn as a baby killer you can empathise with|
|Featuring:||Bella Ramsey, Jodie Whittaker, Tamara Lawrance, Alicia Forde, Brody Griffiths, Conor McCarry, Danielle Henry, Isaac Lancel-Watkinson, Jackie Jones, James Corrigan, Julie Graham, Karen Henthorn, Kayla Meikle, Lisa Millett, Louise Lee, Matilda Firth, Nicholas Nunn, Siobhan Finneran, Sophie Willan|
|Key crew:||Andrea Harkin, Carmel Maloney, Mark Hedges, Helen Black, Jimmy McGovern|
|Channel:||BBC iPlayer, BBC1|
|Broadcast date:||29th October 2023|
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Orla (Jodie Whittaker) is a single mother, struggling to juggle a job with caring for her three children and her alcoholic mother. In a fit of desperation, she fiddles with her electricity meter and gets caught – ending up in jail.
There, she meets small-time drugs offender Kelsey (Bella Ramsey) and Abi (Tamara Lawrance), who’s serving life for the murder of her baby.
Enemies are made and alliances are formed as women try to keep their heads above water behind bars.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Writer Jimmy McGovern has followed up his shocking study of life inside a men’s prison – in season one of Time – with this visit to a women’s facility.
In the case of Jodie Whittaker’s Orla, he shows us how an otherwise good person can do something stupid that gets them on the wrong side of the law, with the knock-on consequences that can have.
Bella Ramsey’s Kelsey brings the issues of gang and drug culture to the fore, while Tamara Lawrance’s Abi demonstrates the futility of life as a lifer.
But somehow, many of the obstacles thrown at these three seem a little forced and unlikely – a high risk prisoner in a relaxed wing, a first-time offender jailed for cheating the electricity meter (it’s acknowledged that this is unusual, but we don’t find out why it was appropriate in her case).
While the first season concentrated on the turmoil of one prisoner and one prison officer, this time the emphasis is on three prisoners, diluting each protagonist’s story, to the extent that the overall narrative is less focused and one of the key characters is almost forgotten by the end of the final episode.
There also seems to be a bit of reductive box-ticking going on here – it’s set in a women’s prison, so obviously, all of the three main story strands relate to motherhood; a single mother losing custody of her children, a woman giving birth behind bars, a woman tormented by her killing of her own baby.
They’re all powerful stories – but not all women – and by extension, not all female prisoners – have their lives dictated by children. There’s more to women that motherhood.
Worse, though, is the fact that while Sean Bean, in Season One, felt like an everyman that anyone could identify with – one stupid mistake puts you behind bars – there’s only really one of these women that you’d want to spend any time with at all. Interestingly, that’s the killer.
Season Two of Time feels a little lazy and convenient, driven by box ticking and narrative short cuts. As such, it doesn’t have as much to say about rehabilitation, recidivism and the justice system more generally as its predecessor. It’s almost as if, on this occasion, Jimmy McGovern might have taken just a little more Time to get it right.