Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Sir Trevor: No more prisoner series

Sir Trevor McDonald found filming inside a women's prison very difficult

Veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald has said that he will never do another TV series on prisoners because the experience has been so difficult.

The 74-year-old former newsreader admitted that he found it more difficult to "move on" after meeting prisoners than he did when returning from war zones. Sir Trevor has filmed a new ITV documentary Women Behind Bars following a previous series, Inside Death Row.

He told the Radio Times: "I am never, ever, doing another prison series. Once these go out I shall wash my mind of prisons.

"It's been an extraordinary experience and not always very pleasant. I used to be shot at in Beirut one day and the next week in the pub I'd be talking about the Test match."

But he added: "These I have found much more difficult to mentally escape from. I have spent my life covering wars, and it's easy doing Libya from 20,000 feet. I shall keep reading about drone attacks and missiles launched from ships in the Mediterranean. They are lines on a page. These people talking about their crimes, I never want to hear those again."

Sir Trevor said of meeting murderers and other female inmates in two women's prisons in the US: "I'm a bit of a bleeding-heart liberal and I see few situations like these where I don't feel sorry for people.

"You can never condone what they have done, but it doesn't stop me feeling sorry for them. And it's the fact they are women and, in the most case, mothers.

"Women are the glue that holds families and communities together. You look around and think, 'What has happened to all the families of these people, how will their children grow up?', and you imagine that it doesn't always have a happy ending."

He said that he remained in touch with one of the prisoners he met while making Inside Death Row, a US inmate serving a 170-year sentence for a double murder he committed at 13.

"I do feel sorry for him. I did send him some books, English novels like Dickens. And I know that he was grateful for them. But these contacts are going nowhere and I didn't want to continue," he said. "I saw them (the prisoners) in the daytime and I didn't enjoy it. I don't want to live my life like that. It's a job, it's a television programme, but I found it really difficult to move on."

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