Wednesday, 8.30pm, SoHo A re-imagining of the old Prisoner series that ran for 692 episodes from 1979 on Ten, Wentworth is both prequel and sequel. While set in the present, with contemporary street drugs, talk of the internet (but no access to it) and computerised prisoner surveillance, the characters are for the most part much younger versions of the ones in the old series. We therefore have a timid, still innocent Vera Bennett played by Kate Atkinson ( SeaChange, Offspring ), surely the actress with the most striking physical resemblance to an original cast member. Played in the first 224 episodes of the old series by Fiona Spence, Vera was always the most heartless ‘‘ screw’’, famously known as ‘‘ vinegar tits’’ by the women because of her unrelenting cruelty and bitterness. This made rare exposure of Vera’s lousy romantic life and the constant jibes from her venomous elderly mother particularly poignant when we saw them. Though it has a wide range of characters, whose personal and prison lives are explored on both sides of the bars, central character Bea Smith, formerly played by Val Lehman, now inhabited by flame-haired Danielle Cormack ( Rake, Underbelly ), is still the focus of the series. In the end, the overlap with Prisoner characters from decades ago is mostly nostalgia for the legions of fans Wentworth will be hoping to bring back to the fold. This was particularly apparent when entirely new character and current top dog Jacs Holt (Chris McQuade) warbled a few bars of the old Prisoner theme ( On the Inside, by Allan Caswell) in her cell in last week’s debut. A great TV moment to be sure, but it does create a point of view problem. Was Jacs a fan of the original series in the early 1980s? Overall, with its cinematic HBO style, rich Australian characters new and old, its graphic violence, great performances and riveting storylines, Wentworth is a triumph whether you know the old series or not. The program has already been sold to British broadcaster Channel 5. Expect more international interest to follow.