Screw series 1 recap: What happened in the Channel 4 prison drama?

The arrival of a second series has fans needing a reminder of what happened in Screw series one

Nina Sosanya and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell in Screw series 1
(Image credit: Channel 4)

As the next batch of episodes arrive on Channel 4, viewers are in need of a Screw series one recap. 

Screw follows the lives of prison officers working in the fictional Long Marsh Prison, as they try to maintain order among the inmates. The first series was a hit when it aired in January 2022, and series two is proving to be just as popular after it was released on 30 August. As well as wanting to know where Screw is filmed, viewers are keen to revisit the dramatic events of series one before binging the new episodes. 

After a prison officer was murdered, there's a lot to unpack as the ensuing investigation threatens to reveal several of the prison officers' secrets that they've managed to keep under wraps for the whole series. It's not the only police drama that has prompted questions in recent weeks, with others wanting to know where Annika was filmed and curious about the cast of prison-based reality series Banged Up. but for fans of Screw, here's what happened in series one...

Screw series 1 recap

Series one of Screw saw Officer Rose Gill join Long Marsh prison as a cocky and freshly-trained prison guard, and the show followed her as she adjusted to working in a rowdy men's prison. 

Under the guidance of senior officer Leigh Henry, she must help keep the inmates in line - but it soon becomes clear that the officers as well as the inmates are keeping secrets. While Leigh is looking to forge her birth certificate in order to get a promotion, it turns out Rose is smuggling contraband into prison while Jackie and Gary are having an affair.

While it's not clear at first why Leigh wants to hide her real documents, it's later revealed that she wants to keep the fact that she was born in prison a secret, because the crime her mother committed means she wouldn't be allowed to work there.

She finally receives her promotion in episode four, as violence and drug smuggling increase in the prison. Toby is suspicious that Leigh is the culprit, but it turns out to be Rose, who is being blackmailed by her gang contact, Louis Costa. However, Rose begins to have a crisis of conscience as she settles in with her fellow guards and forms a friendship with Toby.

In episode five, a three-day lockdown in C-wing begins to impact the mental health of the prisoners, and the guards begin to feel the strain of dealing with the prisoners' issues as well as being short-staffed.

Meanwhile, Toby discovers that Leigh had been secretly living in the prison and finds her real birth certificate, as things begin to close in on her. 

Elsewhere, Rose is being blackmailed to smuggle more goods in for Costa, and resolves to get herself sacked so she no longer has to deal with it.

At the end of the series, Toby was shot by an inmate who hates 'screws' - the slang term given to correctional officers. This forced C-wing into lockdown while the police investigated, with Leigh treated as a suspect after she was the only officer unaccounted for at the time of his death.

Meanwhile, Leigh and Rose end the series having formed a bond, after Leigh opens up to Rose and reveals the secret that she was born in a prison.

Nina Sosanya in Screw series 1

(Image credit: Channel 4)

Who killed Toby in Screw?

One of the inmates, Stephen Childs, confesses to Leigh that he shot Toby, after he saw him threaten Leigh. Though he was about to be released, he said he did it because he hates 'screws'.

What is Screw series 2 about?

Nina Sosanya (Last Tango in Halofax, Good Omens) leads the cast as senior prison officer Leigh Henry, who is in charge of C Wing at Long Marsh Prison. Along with fellow prison officer Rose (played by Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), she and the rest of the team try to make a difference to the complicated lives in their care.

However, rumours of an undercover policeman on the wing threaten order at Long Marsh, and the pressure is on Leigh to identify him before his fellow inmates do - because as the new Governor reminds her, another death on C Wing would mean the end of C wing - and Leigh’s team.

Meanwhile, Rose is being held responsible by a group of criminals for the botched gun smuggling operation, and she must lean on her old gang contact, Louis Costa, for protection.

Elsewhere, relations between Jackie and Gary are tense now that their affair is over and Gary is taking it out on the prisoners.

And when Leigh discovers the identity of the undercover police officer and his mission is revealed, she and Rose are drawn into a criminal plot which could end both their careers, and perhaps even their lives.

Channel 4 says of the new series: "The hit prison drama returns. After the tragic events of series one, the prison officers are set on a fresh start. But with a new governor and some dangerous rumours, it's not that simple..."

Screw series 2 cast

  • Nina Sosanya as Leigh Henry
  • Jamie-Lee O'Donnell as Rose Gill
  • Laura Checkley as Jackie Stokes 
  • Faraz Ayub as Ali Shah
  • Stephen Wight as Gary Campbell
  • Ron Donachie as Don Carpenter
  • Lee Ingleby as Patrick Morgan
  • Leo Gregory as Reeks

For more handy summaries, the Firefly Lane season 2 part 1 recap is useful, along with the Ted Lasso season 2 recap if you've yet to watch season 3. The Abbott Elementary season 1 recap is great for anyone about to embark on season 2.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.