Bad Girls – The Musical takes as its starting point the original core characters from the first three series of Bad Girls on TV. Set in the fictional HMP Larkhall, it’s the story of new idealistic Wing Governor Helen Stewart and her battles with the entrenched old guard of Officer Jim Fenner and his sidekick Sylvia Hollamby. It also follows the love story that develops between Helen and charismatic inmate Nikki Wade. Other featured characters include Shell Dockley and her runner Denny Blood, old-timer Noreen Biggs, The Two Julies and the ultimate Top Dog, King-of-Gangland’s missus, Yvonne Atkins.
A tragic death on the wing – in which Jim Fenner is implicated – leads to an angry protest from the women and forces Helen and Nikki to their opposite sides of the bars. But when it’s clear that Helen stands to lose her job over Jim Fenner’s misdeeds, the race is on for the women to nail Jim once and for all.
The Full Synopsis
New inmate Rachel Hicks arrives in prison terrified – not helped by the brusque manner of jaded Senior Officer Sylvia “Bodybag” Hollamby. The new Wing Governor Helen Stewart tries to be a more re-assuring presence as she takes Rachel through to G-Wing. We meet the women of Larkhall in I SHOULDN’T BE HERE and Rachel is introduced to life inside. Principal Officer Jim Fenner – who believes he’s been unfairly passed over for the position of Wing Governor – is dismayed to see Helen Stewart making yet another appearance on the wing. He and Sylvia both wish she would stay in her office and stop meddling with the way they like to run things.
Jim is quick to take Rachel under his wing. He’s got her a cell on her own – nice and private. Rachel is upset about having her baby taken away, but Jim reassures her that he could help sort things out for her on the outside. He can see Rachel is special and he’s going to be keeping a very special eye on her…
Shell Dockley and her sidekick Denny Blood are quick to pay a neighbourly visit to Rachel as well. Shell just wants to give Rachel the lowdown on how things work in prison. And if she’s not carrying any drugs, then obviously she’ll be buying, won’t she? Shell’s in charge – and wherever Rachel goes she’ll always be watching over her like a GUARDIAN ANGEL
Rachel rushes to tell Jim about Shell bullying her, but he ticks her off for blabbing about their “special relationship”. Helen observes Jim talking to Rachel and is suspicious. She tells Jim and Sylvia that she wants to put lifer Nikki Wade onto the Enhanced regime as encouragement to win her appeal which has just been granted. Jim and Sylvia think it’s outrageous to be giving any sort of privileges to a known trouble-maker like Wade. Jim even suggests that Helen may be getting a bit too personally involved. Helen puts her foot down. It’s time to stop living in the past and carry out her orders.
Jim looks on the bright side. If Helen insists on sticking her neck out for Nikki Wade then it wont’ take much to really land her in it. If Wade kicks off, which won’t be hard for them to arrange, then Stewart will be in a right mess. They congratulate themselves on their Prison Officer skills in JAILCRAFT, during which we see Jim in the male staff toilets tipping off the Number One Governing Governor about Helen’s lack of judgement and inexperience dealing with the inmates.
Nikki Wade is told to pack up her bags as she is moving cells. Shell Dockley - who’s been set up by Sylvia to overhear this - is outraged. How come Wade’s getting special treatment? As predicted, she can’t resist laying into Nikki and starting a fight and when the officers come running to intervene it’s Nikki who gets the blame. Jim sends her down to the segregation block. Nikki is used to a feeling of injustice. She remembers what brought her to prison in the first place – the night when she stabbed an off-duty police officer who was trying to rape her then girlfriend, and her whole life was changed in ONE MOMENT.
Helen is determined not to be thwarted and goes to speak to Nikki in the seg block. She tells her that she’s over-ruling Fenner and putting her on Enhanced. She wants Nikki to fight for her freedom, not just for herself but for all the other women. Nikki is taken aback by Helen’s determined faith in her, but goes along with it.
Helen has some bad news for the Two Julies – prostitutes who’ve styled themselves alike and taken the same name. There’s a problem with the arrangements Julie S has made for her son David over the school holidays and he’s had to be taken into care. Julie is devasted. Why do they have to punish the kids? It’s not their fault. Julie J is unsurprised - Life is always going wrong for them and nothing ever changes when you’re living a LIFE OF GRIME.
Back on the wing there’s a new arrival - Yvonne Atkins - and Shell’s Top Dog position is under threat. Denny tries her usual routine of fronting up to the 'new girl', but is quickly cut down to size. Yvonne – because of her gangland husband’s scary reputation – has managed to avoid the indignities of a proper search. After intimidating Sylvia, she reveals a coat lining stuffed with booze and fags and everyone’s invited to have a drink and a good time. She spots little Rachel looking lost on her own, and tells her that everyone is invited to join the party, which is strictly ‘A’ LIST.
After the party, everyone’s a bit giddy – even Nikki Wade. When Helen comes to see how she’s settling into her new enhanced cell, Nikki risks flirting with her and telling her how gorgeous she is. Helen is flustered and quickly leaves. When Justin asks her to go for a drink, she’s grateful of the diversion. Jim and Sylvia look on with amusement, confident that she won’t be lasting much longer in the job.
Sylvia leaves Jim to hand over to the night shift and Jim starts his nightly prowl of the landings, helping himself to what he thinks of as the perks of the job, when you have THE KEY. He lets himself into Shell’s cell. Meanwhile Helen and Justin are relaxing off duty, Helen confident that with Nikki Wade going for her appeal Fenner will finally be shown who’s boss. After his usual quickie with Shell, Jim pays a visit to Rachel. She’s scared but grateful to see him. He re-assures her that she’ll be safe now he’s here. But Rachel didn’t realise that this was how she was going to have to say “thank you, Sir”. Jim forces his way into her cell.
The next morning at unlock there is no sign of Rachel. She appears to have barricaded herself into her cell. When there’s no answer, Jim and Justin have to break down the door. They discover that Rachel has hanged herself. Everyone is shocked. Jim manages to ensure that he alone goes into the cell to cut the body down and check for a suicide note. There is growing anger amongst the other women, especially when they hear the callous way in which Syliva refers to the incident on her walkie-talkie. They erupt into protest in THAT’S THE WAY IT IS. Helen arrives on the wing and tries to take control of the situation by appealing to speak to Nikki on behalf of the women. But the request backfires, with Helen and Nikki forced to their opposite sides of the bars. Tempers are rising and Jim Fenner deliberately stokes the situation. By the time the Governing Governor arrives on the scene, the situation tips into an all-out riot.
The women have been on lock down for several days following the riot. Alone in her cell Crystal Gordan listens to the women’s shouts of protest and voices their grief the way she knows best, in a gospel song – FREEDOM ROAD
In the Pos' office Sylvia is anxiously waiting to hear the latest news from Jim. Justin’s appalled by both of them and still standing up for Helen Stewart. Jim enters - smug and self satisfied. The Number One has as good as told him that the Wing Governor job’s his – just as soon as Stewart can be sent packing. He imagines how life is going to be once he’s in charge and THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT again, with his chorus line of fantasy glamour prison officers celebrating the new regime.
Back to reality and the Number One informs Helen Stewart that after a suicide and a riot her only option is to resign. But Helen is determined not to go quietly. She’s going to take her case to tribunal and do anything she can to stop Fenner getting her job.
The women are finally let out for meal time on the wing. Accusations are flying but Jim silences them all. From now on it’s back to basics. The Julies make a stand and announce they are going on strike until Jim Fenner is sacked. Unperturbed, Jim gives their servery jobs to Shell and Denny and cancels the Julies’ visiting rights. Shell and Denny are delighted with their new power. The women wait to take their lead from Yvonne, who announces she’d rather be dead than fed by Dockley. No, they’re all going on strike – hunger strike! Justin is dismayed and asks Nikki to try and stop this, but she’s not interested in playing Head Prefect.
Helen has arranged for Julie S to have the number of the foster home where her son is staying so that she can call him. She doesn’t know what to say – he thinks his mum is a top international travel agent! Julie J insists that lying’s best – just tell him she’s abroad. But when Julie S speaks to her son David, she finds that he already knows the truth. She tries to explain things to him - SORRY.
Jim meets up with the Number One in the male staff toilets. There’s bad news - Helen Stewart is refusing to fall on her sword. The Number One is clear that a head needs to roll and whatever happens it’s not going to be his. So if Jim wants to save his neck, other influences will have to be brought to bear. Jim’s cursing his luck as Sylvia bursts in, eager for good news. But it’s going to take one more cock-up to clinch Helen’s downfall – such as a load of Class A drugs turning up on the wing…?
Nikki Wade is called to see Helen Stewart in her office. Both women are in confrontational mood. Nikki assumes that Helen is settling for a cushy desk job elsewhere and Helen is still angry at Nikki for kicking off a riot. But when Helen breaks down, Nikki reminds her that they’re on the same side against Fenner and moves to comfort her. Justin bursts in and there’s an awkward stand off between the three of them. When he reveals that he’s popping round to Helen’s flat later on to help work on her tribunal case, Nikki sarcastically suggests that she’ll come too. When Helen is at home and Nikki back in her cell they both struggle with their feelings for each other - EVERY NIGHT.
Justin arrives at Helen’s flat to find her in despondent mood. He tries to rally her by telling her how much he looks up to her. When he boldy moves in for a kiss, Helen’s aghast. He realises that he’s overstepped the mark but she reassures him that the problem lies with her, not with him. When he pushes for an explanation she confesses that it’s Nikki Wade who’s got under her skin.
Next morning the hunger strike is taking its toll. Yvonne decides to work on the weakest link and try to win Denny over to their side. She reaches out as a mother to a daughter – and though Denny resists, it’s clear there’s a chink in her armour beginning to show. But hunger isn’t the only deprivation they’re suffering. As Yvonne watches the handsome young hunk Justin, she confesses to the Julies that it’s all she can’t think of most nights. Here they are in prison ALL BANGED UP without the bang!
Justin takes Nikki to one side. Though it’s galling to say so, he hints at Helen’s feelings for her and says that if she wants to find out for sure then they have to try and save her job. Jim and Sylvia will be trying every trick in the book to get rid of Helen now. Sure enough Sylvia enters and announces there’s been a tip-off that a large stash of drugs is hidden on the wing. She heads straight for the servery where Shell and Denny are working and pulls out the sugar jar. Low and behold it’s stuffed full of cocaine. Shell is the obvious culprit and Sylvia tells Justin to send her down the block while Sylvia reports to Mr Fenner. Shell protests that she’s been set up. Got it in one, agrees Nikki, but it’s Fenner who’s done the dirty on her. Justin declares that he’s not taking his orders from Bodybag and all the women are amazed. It’s obvious to everyone else that Fenner is behind this and it’s time for Shell to wise up. If Fenner’s out to get her, then she needs to get him first. Shell is persuaded to join their plan to bring him down and be their secret weapon – THE BADDEST AND THE BEST.Yvonne calls Charlie and requests a state of the art wireless minicam – he immediately obliges and sends one over the wall.
Shell waits for Jim down the block, with the hidden camera trained on the bed and linked through to the main security system. Justin tells her that he’ll be flicking the switch to over-ride in time to catch Jim in flagrante as the Number One looks on. Shell’s stoked up and ready for action. But when Jim appears indifferent to her she realises that she’s got to work fast to seduce him into her honey trap, and there’s nothing like a bit of country and western FIRST LADY to do the trick. Finally, with Jim down to his underpants, handcuffed to the bed and with Shell astride him, the camera reveals all to the Number One. Alarms are sounded, police are called and suddenly the electrics go on the blink. Shell can’t resist taking the plan one step further than was intended, and sets fire to the cell, leaving Jim begging for mercy. Once again, she asserts that if you’re going to be bad, you might as well be THE BADDEST AND THE BEST (REPRISE).
Next day the Number One announces that Jim Fenner will be brought to justice, once he’s out of hospital. He hands over to the good governance of Ms Stewart and the women are delighted. But they’ve got another reason to celebrate today as well. It’s Denny’s 21st birthday and Yvonne has arranged for a firework display. The women are given permission to go outside and watch for few minutes. Helen calls Nikki back. She’s sure that Nikki’s appeal will be plain-sailing now Fenner’s not around to sabotage things. At last Helen is able to show her true feelings for Nikki and they share a kiss. But Helen holds back – she’ll wait for Nikki when she’s free, which won't be long now. Finally Nikki can see a future and affirms that THIS IS MY LIFE. Out in the prison yard all the women are sharing the joy of the fireworks and daring to be hopeful about their own lives as well. They’re not giving up on their hopes and dreams. Suddenly they are overwhelmed by the sound of a helicopter above them. It seems that Yvonne’s fireworks were more than just a birthday gift. A ladder descends as Yvonne announces that her cab’s arrived. She climbs on and offers a ride to Denny. She’s off to do her time in Spain and taking Denny with her. Denny is finally going “home’.