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Inside Broadmoor.

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About this work


This documentary in two parts is about Broadmoor; the hospital and prison or 'criminal lunatic asylum'. The programme looks at some of the infamous inmates and goes back to the archives of the organisation. Broadmoor only houses the most serious and 'deviant' male criminals, illustrated with sensationalist tabloid newspaper headlines. Professor Tony Maden, Broadmoor Psychiatrist 2001-12 comments on the high level of security around the prison. The prison is where Peter Sutcliffe, the 'Yorkshire Ripper', is held; one of a group of patients with schizophrenia. Although this can be treated with drugs, the prison is designed to be a permanent place of residence to ensure that the drugs are taken. Another group of inmates, those with a severe personality disorder, are held here. Michael Stone is held here indefinitely. This group is extremely dangerous; they are manipulative and exploitative. Sex offenders are chemically castrated as a result of an affair between a nurse and an inmate. Broadmoor was opened 150 years ago as an asylum and Dr Jade Shepherd, social historian, provides some background. In the archive with the Broadmoor archivist, Mark Stevens, patients's records are held - they have been unavailable for data protection reasons until now. By 1800 it was realised that Bedlam, an aslyum for the insane was not suitable for criminals. Professor Edgar Jones, historian of psychiatry talks about the appalling conditions there. Dr Meyer, the first doctor at Broadmoor, first took in women - Martha Bacon convicted of murdering her children was incarcerated there. Many of the original patients were manic or depressed. Unfortunately, many patients were uncontrollable - there were cages for this class of patient. In the prison there was music, arts and sports. Female and male patients were held there and seemed to thrive. Richard Dadd, a painter who had studied at the Royal Acadmey was another famous inmate. He had paranoid delusions whilst on the grand tour of Europe, then killed his father when he returned. He continued to paint whilst in Broadmoor. Christiana Edmunds, a famous inmate, sent poisoned chocolates to her doctor's wife - bizarrely she then distributed poisoned chocolates around Brighton until a 4 year old died. She dodged the death penalty by claiming insanity and is sent to Broadmoor. The archives indicate that she was a difficult patient. Edward Oxford shot a round of blanks at Queen Victoria; he was recommended for release and emigrated to Melbourne, Australia. The Victorians recognised that poverty was one of the roots of madness. William Orange, the prison superintendant during this period, although known for his humanity, could not control every inmate. Claims by David Bullock, author of 'The Man who Would be Jack', are made that one of the inmates, Thomas Cutbush, was in fact the notorious murderer, Jack the Ripper. A police constable, caught a man matching the Ripper's description: Dr Thomas Bond created one of the first psychological profiles; Cutbush seems to have matched this profile. Bond tipped off two Sun newspaper journalists and they tried to visit him unsuccessfully while he was held in Broadmoor (he refused to speak to them). The archives reveal that Cutbush terrorised other patients. From their experience of treating shellshock victims during World War I, doctors used a range of strategies such as hynosis. Stanley Hopward joined Broadmoor after the war and discovered that Broadmoor had not adopted any modern medical methods; he modernised both medicine and nursing. Archive footage of ECT is shown. Ronald True, who battered a prostitute to death, underwent insulin coma therapy which turned out to be risky for many. True seems to have been happy at Broadmoor. Unfortunately, over time security became lax and John Straffen, a child murderer, escaped. He then murdered a child in the brief time he was free. This led to radical regime change; higher walls and an alarm system.


UK : Channel 5, 2013.

Physical description

1 DVD (46 min.) : sound, color, PAL


Broadcast on 30 September, 2013.

Creator/production credits

Produced and directed by Duncan Bulling.

Copyright note

Wildfire TV Ltd/GroupM Entertainment Ltd



  • English

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