Everything you need to know about BBC One’s new drama Time starring Sean Bean and Stephen Graham

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a fly on a cell wall in a British prison? BBC One's new three-part drama Time does exactly that.

Right from episode one it takes us behind bars and explores the often bleak and brutal reality as a group of new inmates are sent to jail to start their sentences.

Among them is first-time prisoner Mark Cobden, played by Game Of Thrones and Sharpe star Sean Bean. Mark’s a former teacher and family man who has been jailed for four years after a tragic accident.

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As he attempts to navigate his dark new reality in a world very unlike the one he’s used to, Mark has to learn quickly about surviving inside and the choices he must make to ensure he stays afloat.

“It tells you the story through Mark’s eyes of what it’s like as a regular guy to be imprisoned and the nightmare that that is,” Sean, 62, explains.

“He goes from being an English teacher and having an uninteresting, normal life where nothing much happens, to suddenly finding himself being taken in a van to a prison and locked up among a really alarming, frightening bunch of people who are all going through their own suffering, mayhem and paranoia.”

It features lots of distressing scenes that don’t shy away from showing the extreme violence that can erupt as tensions run high in the men’s prison.

And Sean promises that the mini-series pulls no punches. He says: “It’s groundbreaking, it’s controversial and rich. You’ve got a real cauldron of emotions and violence, and it’s every man for himself really."

“We went as far as we could and I think that’s very important when you’re telling the story of people who are incarcerated."

“They wanted to go for realism, naturalism and try to dredge as much as we could from the prisoners’ emotions, how they interact.”

However, viewers will also see the other side of the penal system as This Is England and Line Of Duty star Stephen Graham steps into the shoes of prison warden Eric McNally, aka “Boss” – a man who has dedicated his life to his job and protecting the inmates in his care.

“We meet him right at the very beginning and he’s a really happy man, he’s got a nice little home and a loving wife and everything looks rosy,” says Stephen, 47.

But then one of the men discovers that Eric has a weak spot – his son David is serving time in a different prison.

Eric soon finds himself presented with an almost impossible choice – and he is forced to decide just how far he is willing to go to prevent his flesh and blood being in harm’s way.

Stephen adds: "[The show looks at] shame, guilt, honour, loyalty, love and that moral compass within each individual and how far they’d go to repent for their sins."

Time, Sunday, 9pm, BBC One

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