Where was BBC drama Time filmed? Ghoulish history of location used for prison scenes

Sean Bean and Stephen Graham star in the widely praised drama, that was partly filmed in Shrewsbury Prison, a location with a dark past

Sean Bean and Stephen Graham star in Time
Sean Bean and Stephen Graham star in Time

BBC One's new "difficult to watch" drama, Time, has been praised for its portrayal of prison life.

The gritty drama, co-starring Sean Bean and Stephen Graham, follows Bean's character, a newly imprisoned man who killed someone by dangerous driving, and Graham's portrayal of prison guard Eric McNally who has a weakness that one inmate is exploiting.

While the drama is set in a fictional prison, a real jail was used for the filming.

Time filming locations

Crews used Shrewsbury Prison for the scenes set behind bars.

The jail, also known as The Dana, was decommissioned in 2013 but has since reopened as a tourist attraction, with paranormal investigations, escape room games and tours all offered.

Filming took place in the autumn of 2020, with parts of the prison closed off to the public.

Shrewsbury's former Dana Prison

At a press event, director Lewis Arnold said Shrewsbury Prison “had such a feeling and energy” compared to other potential locations.

“The wings and the cells… The majority of the prison stuff – the key stuff, the landings – were shot in in a disused prison, which ironically, myself and the executive producer shot in five years ago, when it first closed, just before it was meant to be turned into student accommodation that never happened, luckily for us, so we were still able to use it now. But yeah, we looked at so many different prisons as well," he said.

“This… prison just had such a feeling and energy, especially when [our set designer] got in and put a visual stamp on it as well. And it’s been left that way," he said, explaining that the walls were painted grey to make it a more "miserable" setting.

Other scenes were filmed away from Shropshire.

The scenes in Eric's house were shot in Liverpool, while the prison visiting room was an old school gym in the same city.

Shrewsbury Prison

Mail bag sewing in Shrewsbury prison in 1964

The Dana was opened in 1793, but has had a dark history with a multitude of inmates committing suicide whilst serving time there.

It was also well known for the number of executions by hanging that took place, with bodies buried within the grounds in unmarked graves.

When the prison was redeveloped in 1972, the remains of 10 unnamed inmates were exhumed. Nine were cremated and one set was identified and handed over to their relatives.

However, scores of prisoners were hanged at Shrewsbury, for crimes as minor as stealing sheep, and they included at least one woman. In April 1822 five prisoners were hanged for burglary in just one day.

Until 1863 executions were public. The last was 30-year-old Edward Cooper who was hanged for murder in front of a crowd though to be 10-times higher than the previous execution.

Eight prisoners were executed in the 20th century, all for murder.

Albert Pierrepoint was Britain's last, and most-famous hangman

Four were condemned in the 1950s and executed by Albert Pierrepoint, the famous hangman who carried out at least 400 in his 25-year career that ended in 1956.

As a result, some claim the prison is haunted, with TV ghost hunters visiting to find out more.

Like all prisons, it has seen its share of escape attempts, such as in 1961 when two inmates used a rope and home-made hook to get over the wall and were at large for several days before being recaptured in Manchester.

One of the escapees, Walter Groom, returned to the prison in 2017 for a tour at the age of 81.

An unusual escape in reverse in 1966 involved a man from Dawley actually scaling the perimeter wall and breaking into the jail. There has been at least one rooftop protest, and another famous rooftop incident when Santa Claus – actually prankster Poddy Podmore – scaled the walls and threw down gifts to the prisoners in December 1977.

Since it was sold by the Ministry of Justice, the prison has been used for a number of TV dramas such as Coronation Street and the ITV series Prey, as well as paranormal investigation shows Paranormal Lockdown and Most Haunted.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News