Oxford Tour...

Exterior con'd, pg 7

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[058]: We turn around now with our backs to the Reception building to face the corner of G-wing. You can just make out the tall arched window at the end of the wing. We usually only get to see this far along the wing in 'scene-setting' shots such as the one in S3 Ep12 [19:37] and the aerial shot taken from behind the 'Pam exam' building in S3 Ep16 [28:14]. In the aerial shot the 'Pam exam' building is in the left foreground, the Reception building is the rooftop in the right foreground, and you can just see the entrance arch at angle to it. In this photograph the 'Pam exam' building is just out of shot to the left.

[059]: Standing at the corner of the G-wing building, in the place we were just looking at in the previous photo [058], this is the view looking back into the entrance courtyard. The Reception building doorway is slightly out of shot to the right of the main entrance gate; the tower Helen climbed out from behind is on the left (with the satellite dishes). That section of building between the painted wall to the left of the entrance and the 'hospital wing' link building, directly below the tower, is different from Bad Girls' time, when it was open and had that other gate to the right of the white archway which featured in [32] above. We get a view of part of the courtyard from this angle in S2 Ep9 [12:21].

[060]: Moving around the end of the building to the the long arched window at the gable-end of G-Wing—looking up at the window. This is of course at the opposite end of the wing from the corresponding window adjacent to the Debtors' Tower in [15] and [18]. This end of the wing now houses the Malmaison restaurant in what would have been the semi-basement below G1. Fortunately they no longer serve prison food! The image of these tripartite windows towers over many of the scenes in Bad Girls, and has become almost iconic through the brilliant opening sequence when the first chords of the familiar music is accompanied by a stylised shot zooming out from the window that almost looks more church-like than prison-like... until we see the landings with their suicide netting and metal stairways. The show is full of camera opportunities like those in S1 Ep7 [43:22] and S3 Ep10 [27:26].

[061]: We looked up, and now we're looking down to the section of the gable-end window that is partially below ground level (this is now the window at the end of the hotel restaurant). This semi-basement area of the wing used to be the reception area. So it is possible that this is where new prisoners would have stayed prior to them being placed in the relevant wing. Not exactly the best introduction to prison then!

[062]: The full length view of the gable-end window—a photo that would not be possible of the corresponding window at the other end of the wing because of its proximity to the Debtors' Tower. The grille at the base of the window is the 'bars' that we've just looked through in the previous photo in order to see the part of the window that is below ground level. It is early evening and the light coming from it is from the hotel restaurant. To the right of the photo is the corner of the 'Pam exam' building. The plaque on the wall to the left of the window commemorates the official opening of the restored Oxford Castle and Prison by HM the Queen on 5 May 2006. Unlike the gable-end window at the other end of the wing, we do occasionally get to see an exterior view of this particular window, in rather rare 'scene-setting' shots like those in S2 Ep7 [28:08] and S3 Ep6 [23:20].

[063]: Moving around to the other corner of G-wing and looking back across the gable-end towards the entrance courtyard. This is a view that we never see on Bad Girls: the opposite corner of this end of the wing from the one in photo [058] above. These cells would have been on the opposite side of the landing from Nikki's Helen-arrival-watching G3 cell.

[064]: Looking down the side of G-wing from the corner, towards the new glass bridge-link between G-wing and the C-wing building, (seen here on the left of this photo), rather a different look from the old structure joining the two which we see in S2 Ep5 [25:44].

[065]: Looking through the glass bridge-link, you can see the exercise yard end of G-wing extending on the other side.

[066]: Now this is something that you never get to see in Bad Girls—the rear view of C-wing—or in this instance, the rear view of the extensively modified C-wing! This is the other side of the building from the exercise yard side, which we saw in photos [010] and [011] above. G-wing and the entrance courtyard where we've just come from, are to the right of this photo.

[067]: We have now walked down past the rear side of C-Wing, and are once again where we started the tour at the base of the Round Tower, looking back to where we've come from up the right-hand side of it behind the C-wing building and back up towards the main entrance courtyard side of G-wing, which you can see directly to the right of the Round Tower.

[068]: If this was a real tour, you would be feeling rather breathless right now, as you would just have walked all the way back across the G-Wing exercise yard, around the base of the Debtors' Tower, through the area where Nikki's garden used to be, into the D-Wing museum building and up the 101 narrow stone steps to the viewing platform at the top of the 24m high (80ft) eleventh-century St George's Tower. And after all that effort, all you would see is the very top of the G-wing gable and roof.

Fortunately, old castles are equipped with arrow slits (more formally called arrow loops), so that archers could shoot arrows at their enemies down below. Having done so, they would need to step aside pretty quickly to safety into the embrasure surrounding it, as longbows were very accurate in the hands of skilled archers, and it has been demonstrated that an archer standing 25m (83ft) below an arrow loop, would be able to shoot one arrow in three through an arrow loop of just 5cm (2in) wide. Arrow loops can also be used to shoot photographs of old prison wings.

...me too. bet you wish I'd done clever things with ALTIf you have a look at the accompanying thumbnail, the arrow loop in question which affords a view over G-wing is out of sight, inside the embrasure arch to the left of the little doorway (designed for short eleventh century persons) to the 101 steps. But you can see what it looks like if you look at the one on the right-hand side of the second thumbnail—which Health & Safety have no doubt seen fit to insist has a pair of bars installed, lest some rather narrow soul should attempt to contort themselves through the loop!

In the main photo then is the view of G-wing from the arrow loop in St George's Tower—you can see a bit of the stonework of the tower on the right edge of the main photo. (If you look this thumbnail, it is the arrow loop immediately to the right of the stair turret in the centre of the photograph—or, to put it another way, to the left of the arrow loop below the flag.)

The roof structure directly below is the roof of the D-wing museum which ends in The Debtors' Tower adjacent to the G-wing gable-end window. Nikki's garden would therefore have been just out of shot to the left, alongside this D-wing building. In S2 Ep1 Helen would have come out from behind the second square tower from the left on the G-Wing building, where the air-conditioning unit is, to talk to Zandra. Those annoying green gazebos are at the bottom of the photo, and you can see the glass bridge-link between G-Wing and C-wing that we've just looked at from the other side in photos [064] & [065], near the top right of the shot. Near the top left of the photo above the apex of the Debtors' Tower is the County Court building, and you can just make out the little white door between it and the first of the square towers, which was the Officers' Mess in Bad Girls.

So if you're feeling just a little bit exhausted after this part of the tour, you have every right to be because we've covered a fair bit of ground. You have also climbed to the top of St George's Tower to get this view—the Bad Girls cameraman only went as far as the top floor of D-Wing to get the one in this screenshot, S3 Ep13 [38.01]. Of course, he was carrying a slightly larger camera—and it probably wouldn't have fit through the arrow loop!




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