Two very different sides of Norfolk dominated primetime TV last night

Norfolk dominated primetime TV last night with Normal for Norfolk (left) and Her Majesty's Prison: N

Norfolk dominated primetime TV last night with Normal for Norfolk (left) and Her Majesty's Prison: Norwich (right) - Credit: Archant

If you were flicking through the channels on television last night, you might have noticed that Norfolk was in the spotlight for two hours of primetime viewing, but for two very different reasons.

Rocky Gamble in his cell at HMP Norwich. Photo: ITV

Rocky Gamble in his cell at HMP Norwich. Photo: ITV - Credit: ITV

The first-hour transported three million ITV viewers to Her Majesty's Prison in Norwich for an inside look into the daily life of criminals behind bars.

At present the prison is home to 750 adult inmates and young offenders, more than half of whom are fathers or husbands. The show focused on a few specific prisoners to tug on the heartstrings – Nick Grady, separated from his family for 13 years for conspiracy to sell cocaine, Rocky Gamble, a father-of-two waiting to be sentenced for the sixth time, and 21-year-old Liam Poore who purchased an illegal weapon online.

The gritty documentary reveals that two thirds of inmates at HMP Norwich are thought to have a history of drug use and highlights this persisting problem, showing some prisoners trying to smuggle cannabis or heroin into the prison in various shocking ways, including via their babies' nappies.

https://storify.com/edp24/your-reactions-to-her-majesty-s-prison-norwich

Prisoner officer Darren reveals that because of this, all visitors are heavily searched upon arrival – especially young children. 'It's something we have to do because people do secrete items on children and young babies.'


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Despite the heavy security and seemingly strict approach, many viewers have complained that the inmates at HMP Norwich have it too easy, with one user on Twitter even going as far as to compare the prison to a 'holiday camp'.

A completely different side of Norfolk was seen an hour after this, as just under one million people tuned into the final episode of Normal for Norfolk broadcast on BBC Two at 10pm.

21yr old prisoner Liam Poore hugs his mum during visiting at HMP Norwich. Photo: ITV

21yr old prisoner Liam Poore hugs his mum during visiting at HMP Norwich. Photo: ITV - Credit: ITV

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The four-episode documentary series followed Desmond MacCarthy, the eccentric owner of Wiveton Hall in North Norfolk and his family as they tried to keep their business afloat.

Last night's episode was set in late October and showed all at Wiveton Hall enjoying the start of the shooting season and preparing for the impact of winter on the farm.

Desmond and his larger than life eyebrows provided some much needed comic relief and many viewers are sad to have reached the end of his story, calling out on social media for the BBC to make a second series.

https://storify.com/edp24/viewers-calling-out-for-more-normal-for-norfolk

The two shows depicted very different sides of our county, one dark and desperate, the other free and bright, but what impact will they have on Norfolk?

Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk, thinks that Normal for Norfolk will have a positive impact on tourism.

'Any exposure on national television has to be great for Norfolk tourism. Desmond is a great character and perfectly highlights the warm welcome that anyone visiting Norfolk can expect to receive,' he said.

Normal For Norfolk star Desmond MacCarthy. Photographer: Colin Hutton

Normal For Norfolk star Desmond MacCarthy. Photographer: Colin Hutton - Credit: BBC/Boundless

• What do you think the impact of these shows will be on Norfolk? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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