Controversial Channel 4 reality series called ‘best TV show’ axed after one season

Controversial Channel 4 reality series called ‘best TV show’ axed after one season

Banged Up won’t be getting a second series (Picture: Colin Hutton / Channel 4)

Channel 4 won’t be bringing back Banged Up: Stars Behind Bars for a second series, despite its popularity.

The programme put celebrities into the now-decommissioned HMP Shrewsbury and gave them an authentic experience of what it’s like to be locked up.

The first episodes showed then-minister for veterans’ affairs Johnny Mercer, EastEnders actor Sid OwenGogglebox star Marcus Luther, former Conservative MP Neil Parish, singer HRVY, journalist Peter Hitchens, and comedian Tom Rosenthal taking on the challenge.

Joining them inside were former prisoners, who were asked to behave in the same way they did before reforming to add to the chaos. 

Their antics earned the first series a Bafta nomination in the reality category, but was beaten by Squid Game: The Challenge at the prestigious ceremony.

Mercer took part in the controversial reality show (Picture: Channel 4 / Banged Up)

Viewers were full of praise for Banged Up, including Rachel Woollett who said it was ‘the best reality TV show you’re not watching,’ and Nick Harvey, who wrote the music for the series, added: ‘It’s totally insane; absolutely compulsive viewing.’

Levison Wood called it a ‘highlight’ of their evening, meanwhile, Nick Walker was perplexed at what he was watching.

‘Can’t believe I’ve just watched Sid Owen try to escape prison and Johnny Mercer MP stare at a man fishing tobacco out of his bumhole,’ he wrote on X.

Producers are said to be surprised by the decision to not return with a follow-up due to the success of its debut.

A source previously claimed to The Sun that they were already considering famous faces to lock up, with Nigel Farage being on their possibility list. They were also looking at creating a version set inside a women’s prison with an all-female line-up of prison staff, prisoners, and celebrities.

‘Producers were shocked by Channel 4’s decision to axe the show,’ an insider told the publication.

‘Pundits raved about the show and it was loved by viewers, so it seems a strange decision to get rid of it. It must purely be for financial reasons.’

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: ‘Banged Up was a unique one-off social experiment that was only commissioned for one series.’

Channel 4 have made a series of axes (Picture: PA)

The broadcaster has a five-year plan to become a digital-first public service streamer by 2030, and have cut a number of their shows.

This includes Danny Dyer’s Scared of the Dark, which saw celebrities live in pitch-black conditions and complete challenges. Greg James’s game show Rise and Fall brought together 16 ordinary people as they competed for the position of power and £100,000 but it won’t be back.

Last month, Channel 4 also closed down the channels, Kerrang!, The Box, Magic, Kiss, and 4Music.

‘To stay competitive and invest in digital priorities, Channel 4 will reduce its operational costs, particularly out of legacy activities. This will simplify its operations to become leaner, nimbler, and more sustainable in the long term,’ they explained.

As part of its plan, Channel 4 will have ‘fewer, stronger new titles that generate more scale and impact’, increase YouTube content, and ‘reduce headcount by 18%’.

The broadcaster has also made bold decisions to cut loose Question of Sport, Steph’s Packed Lunch, and The Big Celebrity Detox. 

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Ofill Allen was one of the former prisoners, who voluntarily put himself back in prison for Banged Up in the hope that it would give others an insight into the criminal justice system, and potentially improve it. He served 17 years in prison for killing an alleged rapist aged 19, before being released in 2020.

Sharing a cell with former Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer was eye-opening, and he then told he’d like to see more politicians locked up.

‘More MPs need to go to prison so they can see the reality,’ he said.

‘They would understand it if they lived it and experienced it for themselves. You’ve got to live it, breathe it, eat it, sleep it, s**t it, to truly know what it feels like.’ contacted Channel 4 for comment

Banged Up: Stars Behind Bars series one is available to watch on Channel 4

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