Whilst not as prevalent as the TV detective, the world of prisons and prisoners has now permeated most television genres: sit-com (Porridge), ‘serious’ drama (Buried, Oz), light entertainment drama (Within these Walls, Bad Girls, The Governor, Prisoner), documentary (Strangeways, Lifer: Living with Murder, Jailbirds, Prison Weekly, Feltham Sings) and reality TV (The Experiment, The Real Bad Girls), to name but a few. Even soaps have got in the act and although scenes of incarceration are not featured as regularly as court rooms and police interview suites, characters in all the major British soaps have faced jail terms, most famously Coronation Street’s Deidre Rachid who, in 1998, won the backing of the Prime Minister during the ‘Free the Weatherfield One’ campaign. Whilst these programmes span multiple genres and are very different in style and purpose, their common mission to entertain (i.e. to maximize audience figures) is unquestionable. But to what extent is it the role of programmes such as Porridge and Bad Girls to inform and educate as well? If the backdrop is a prison, does television comedy, drama and light entertainment have a duty to encourage discussion and debate about imprisonment? Is it – as some have claimed (Wilson and O’Sullivan 2004) – the role of the popular media to advance the cause of penal reform? And if media producers do indeed have a mission to reveal the grim realities of life in prison, does it necessarily follow that audiences will be receptive to the message?