Initial apprehension about a borstal being set up in a north Northumberland community for a primetime TV show turned to acceptance when the lads actually arrived.
Bring Back Borstal, whose fourth and final episode screens tonight at 9pm on ITV, saw Ford Castle turned into a borstal with filming taking place there and in the surrounding area for four weeks last year.
In last Thursday’s episode, the lads went out into the community both to work, including with Matthew Rawlings at the The Great Northumberland Bread Company, and to help out at Etal Flower Show.
Richard Baker, from the show committee, told the Gazette that the boys helped set up for around six hours on Saturday, before attending the show on Sunday.
“They were good lads actually and they worked for us,” he said. “Within reason, they were well-behaved.
“On the day, they came to do their coconut shy, which was a great success and sold out within an hour, and took part in various things like the dog agility where they borrowed a dog.
“As you saw on the show, one of the lads baked scones and was very disappointed he didn’t win, but he did get highly commended.
“Someone asked the judge if it was just for television, but she said they were actually very good scones.”
Richard, who runs Etal Village Shop and Lavender Tearooms, said there was some initial apprehension about ‘naughty boys’ coming into the area.
“However, when they came into the community, they went into the church and the congregation loved them,” he added. “They were good workers and good lads and when they came onto the estate, they changed people’s minds really.”
Tonight sees the broadcast of the fourth and final episode in the series. It’s the final week of the experiment and the Governor tries to convince one of the lads who left in week one to return.
Meanwhile, with reoffending rates closely linked to employment, the Governor wants to give the lads the opportunity to get a job and stay out of trouble when they leave. Each of the boys is offered a job interview and for some, it’s the first time.
Richard added: “All the locals are coming in and talking about the show. They are saying it’s good to see the local area (on TV), but it’s actually quite an interesting story too.”