LOCKED UP

Crime Scene joins the cast and crew in the show’s women’s prison near Madrid to dis­cuss the jail break and the in­mates’ sur­vival meth­ods for Series 2 of the hit Span­ish drama...

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS - By JAMES MOT­TRAM

A first look at Sea­son 2 of the Span­ish prison drama fol­low­ing last year’s jail break.

CRE­ATED BY: ALEX PINA, IVAN ES­CO­BAR, ES­THER MARTINEZ LOBATO, DANIEL ECIJA STAR­RING: MAG­GIE CI­VAN­TOS, NA­JWA NIMRI, BERTA VA ZQUEZ, DANIEL OR­TIZ (WALTER PRESENTS) 2016

Thirty min­utes north of Madrid, in the small town of Col­me­nar Viejo, stands a large non­de­script build­ing. A for­mer fac­tory, it’s now home to Cruz del Sur, the fic­tional women’s prison at the heart of Locked Up, ti­tled Vis A Vis (slang for “con­ju­gal vis­its”) in Spain, where it’s been a run­away hit. British view­ers are now about to get the chance to watch the 12-episode sec­ond sea­son via Walter Presents, Chan­nel 4’s for­eign-lan­guage stream­ing ser­vice.

It’s early April 2016 and the pro­duc­tion has reached the penul­ti­mate day of the Series 2 shoot, which be­gan six months ear­lier. Ex­tras are min­gling out­side, smok­ing cig­a­rettes and bask­ing in the sun­shine be­tween takes. They’re all dressed in ba­nana-yel­low jump­suits, white tee-shirts and train­ers, a huge con­trast to the dull gun-metal colour­ing of the walls, cor­ri­dors and gantries in­side. Never mind Orange Is The New Black. This is more like Yel­low Is The New Grey.

Nat­u­ral light floods into the sound­proof build­ing, in which tele­scopic sights were once man­u­fac­tured. “There were aban­doned pris­ons [ we looked at],” ex­plains the show’s co-creator and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Alex Pina. “They’ve been used for films. But we couldn’t use them. It was com­pli­cated to work with the pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions that look af­ter the pris­ons in Spain.” Sea­son 2 has seen some ad­di­tions too: gym, kitchen and Ir­ish pub sets all built in the space.

On set to­day is Mag­gie Ci­van­tos, who plays Macarena, the once-timid ac­coun­tant who was sen­tenced to seven years in jail for tax fraud. Below her blonde locks, she has a stitched scar on her fore­head, a tes­ta­ment to Pina’s claims that “there is more vi­o­lence” com­ing in Sea­son 2. In the mess hall, the raven-haired Na­jwa Nimri – who plays the prison hard-case Zulema, sworn en­emy to Macarena – is hav­ing blood ap­plied to her face by a make-up artist.

The fi­nale of Sea­son 1 saw Zulema and her cronies dra­mat­i­cally break from prison (through a hole hid­den in the laun­dry room), drag­ging Macarena along with them. “The start­ing point of the sec­ond sea­son is the end of the first sea­son,” ex­plains Pina. “Zulema es­capes, so that’s the be­gin­ning. Of course, they are go­ing back to the prison be­cause this is a prison series.” No spoil­ers here: the trailer for Sea­son 2 says as much, with Zulema mut­ter­ing “home sweet home” as she re­turns to Cruz del Sur.

Nimri claims she built her char­ac­ter in “a comic book or fairy tale way” – and there is some­thing of the wicked witch about her. But for all its height­ened re­al­ity, Locked Up is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion. “We did a lot of in­ter­views with [ real] in­mates and what we found out is that ev­ery­thing in real life is worse than what the series por­trays,” says Pina. “For ex­am­ple, the sex­ual re­la­tions be­tween the guards and the in­mates or the drugs is­sues in the pris­ons.”

Pina prom­ises there will be “an­other thriller plot re­lat­ing to new char­ac­ters” part-way through Series 2. But re­ally, it’s the cen­tral re­la­tion­ship be­tween Macarena and Zulema that in­trigues. “In the sec­ond sea­son, it’s very in­ter­est­ing. We have to co­op­er­ate to­gether,” re­veals Ci­van­tos. “It’s good be­cause it’s two dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters, an­tag­o­nists, who have to co­op­er­ate. It’s love and hate.”

Cer­tainly, this will be mu­sic to fans’ ears. When the show first de­buted in Spain in March 2015, it was at­tract­ing four mil­lion

“OF COURSE, THEY ARE GO­ING BACK TO THE PRISON ”

view­ers an episode, with crit­ics com­par­ing it to The Wire. Span­ish-lan­guage drama rarely makes the tran­si­tion to the international stage, but this was dif­fer­ent. Nimri felt it as soon as she was ap­proached to play Zulema. “It was se­ri­ous, it was big, it’s am­bi­tious – and they had money,” she says.

While the cre­ators took in­spi­ra­tion from Aus­tralian peren­nial Pris­oner: Cell Block H, the show has al­ready proved it­self far re­moved from Net­flix’s women-in-prison show Orange Is The New Black. “That is a black com­edy,” says Ci­van­tos, “and this is a thriller.” That be­comes ap­par­ent in the af­ter­noon, when a scene is be­ing shot in the court­yard. A he­li­copter is land­ing in the dis­tance, the ro­tor roar­ing, as Macarena is marched across the tar­mac in the bak­ing heat by two po­lice­men.

Re­put­edly, our anti-heroine holds a vi­tal clue to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion – a fur­ther hint that her power on the in­side is grow­ing. “I’ve en­joyed it more than the first sea­son,” ad­mits Ci­van­tos. “My char­ac­ter is chang­ing ev­ery episode. In the first sea­son, she is more in­no­cent. All the char­ac­ters beat me and in­sult me. I was play­ing scared. This is now more com­plex. My char­ac­ter is good but she has started to do bad things to sur­vive.”

Macarena Fer­reiro (Mag­gie Ci­van­tos) must learn how to sur­vive in prison.

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