"Bea" Alice Smith
Actress: Val Lehman
Born: February 8 1938
Prisoner Number: 329460
The Bea Smith Story
Bea Smith - a stocky ginger-haired woman of considerable strength, both
physically and emotionally. Bea worked as a hairdresser prior to being
imprisoned in Wentworth, a perfectly ordinary woman in a perfectly
ordinary occupation. But things were going to change drastically in her
life. Her husband Harry was a womaniser and had little regard for the
feelings of the women he romanced. It was unfortunate for him, that he
married a woman who was to develop a distinct lack of respect for human
life herself. Although these events weren't covered in the series, they
were described by Bea herself, and others. Bea found out that her
husband Harry was having an affair - an event which would hurt any
woman. Bea was indeed hurt, but she was able to rise above such things,
so much so that she went beyond the boundaries of normal reactions to
such events. She murdered her husband's mistress out of sheer anger. Bea
realised that she was a tough woman who was capable of unthinkable
violence. Prior to this, she had been more frail and somewhat more
submissive. Evidence of this in the series is apparent when she loses
her memory, more about that later.
When the series began, Bea had already been in prison for ten years for
the murder of her husband's mistress. During her time inside, she
exercised her new-found strength to establish her position as top dog in
the prison hierarchy. Of course, Bea faced competition from other women,
at first from the explosive Franky Doyle, who was never quite strong or
smart enough to take over her position. Bea now had a new hatred towards
her husband Harry, their daughter Debbie had died from a drug overdose
as a direct result of being thrown out of the house by her father. He
moved some other woman in and told Debbie to get out. Debbie got
involved with some drug-pushers and died from an overdose. Bea blamed
her husband for Debbie's death. During her time inside, before her
impending release, Bea plotted with cell-mate Valerie to kill her
husband. This took place before the series began. In the first episode,
a young girl called Lynn Warner arrived, convicted of burying a child
alive. Bea hated her for it and promised her that she would be sorry for
her crime. She trapped Lynn's hands in the steam press and then forced
Lynn to say it was an accident so that Bea would still be released. In
episode 2, Bea was released along with Jeanette Brooks, alias Mum. She
had earned a fair bit of money from working in the laundry and used it
to stay in the posh hotel in which she used to work as a cleaner. She
then got a taxi to all the places she's thought about for ten years and
arranged a meeting with her ex-cell mate, Valerie. Val brought her a gun
which she was to use to kill Harry. She went to her old house and shot
her husband on the doorstep.
During Bea's absence from prison, Franky Doyle took over. But this was
only for a short while until Bea returned. Bea walked in dressed smartly
and showing no signs of regret.
Meg: "Toe the line."
Bea: "Do we have to go through all this rubbish?"
Meg: "It's the law"
Bea: "Look I know the law as well as you do Meg. Yes my name is
Beatrice Alice Smith, yes I killed my husband - he deserved it. Yes I'm
gonna be here for the rest of my life. Now why don't you just check
through this lot, give me a form to sign and throw me into a cell."
Meg: "Have you finished? Good. Now we'll do it our way, you had the
chance to do it your way on the outside and we all now what a mess you
made of that. Please stand on the line."
Vera Bennett knew there would be hostility between Bea and Franky so she
persuaded Erica Davidson to allow Bea to go straight back with the
others instead of going to solitary. There followed a riot during which
Meg's husband was killed and Bea defeated Franky. She was back on top
and in excellent form. When she found out that it was Chrissie Latham
who killed Bill Jackson (Meg's husband), she forced her to own up to the
murder by savagely cutting her head with scissors. Chrissie's clothes
were covered in blood. Bea could be savage and ruthless, but she was
also a caring soul. She cared about the women and that is the main
reason why she stayed top dog for so long. Bea was always hated by Vera
Bennett, and the two of them had many battles, both verbally and
physically. Vera despised the way the women listened to what Bea said
all the time. Bea had developed a hatred of child abusers and drug
users, especially pushers. Sharon Gilmoure, a woman who was convicted of
pushing drugs, was imprisoned in Wentworth. When Sharon told Bea her
crime, Bea attacked her in the dining room but Sharon threw boiling hot
water in her face! From that moment on, Bea hated Sharon more than
The social worker - Paul Reid - started a craft class in the prison and
introduced a drama group run by an ex-criminal called Ken Pearce. Bea
fell in love with Ken during the drama classes. Sharon set out to ruin
Bea's chances. When Ken and Bea hid in the store room together, Sharon
lagged on her to Vera. The drama group was stopped and Ken was banned
from the prison.
"You're history, you bitch!",
a chant which Bea often made to prisoners who crossed her.
Sharon was later killed by Jock Stewart because she tried to blackmail
him. Bea would have probably killed her anyway. Judy Bryant, Sharon's
lover, blamed Bea for Sharon's death until Doreen revealed the truth.
Bea and Judy worked together to start a riot over the murder of an
inmate by an officer. The riot lasted about two episodes and resulted in
nothing but extra charges on Bea and the others. Ken came to visit Bea a
couple of times and even persuaded her to rehabilitate his daughter by
placing her in prison for 24 hours. Ken eventually went back to his
ex-wife, leaving Bea broken-hearted.
A Departmental investigator called Stuart Gillespie came to the prison
to tighten up security. He did his job so well that Bea allowed some of
the prisoners to escape. The plan was to put on a pantomime - Cinderella
- and to make a set of civvy clothes with which to escape. They were to
escape down a tunnel that they had found in the prison grounds. The
tunnel collapsed killing Irene Bagel and injuring Doreen. Bea, Lizzie
and Doreen were trapped. A prisoner called Ann Griffin, who was
psychologically unstable, covered the entrance with earth so Bea could
not get out. Bea was eventually rescued by Jim Fletcher and Stuart
Gillespie. She vowed to kill Ann, but Ann was transferred to a mental
institution. Bea was later transferred to Barnhurst where she had a
conflict with top dog Marie Winter and her lackey Janey Chapman. They
put magic mushrooms in Bea's soup. Bea was eventually transferred back
to Wentworth but the prison wagon crashed causing her to lose her
memory. She wandered off to see Mum (Jeanette Brooks) because she was
one of the only people she could remember. The authorities thought Bea
had escaped, so they imprisoned her, and Mum for harboring a fugitive.
Margo Gaffney had taken over as top dog and had Bea beaten up regularly.
Bea thought she was the woman she used to be - less tough, frail and
soft. Margo's thugs threw Bea into a store room - it reminded her of
being in the tunnel - her memory came back! She pretended she hadn't
regained her memory and waited for Margo to come and taunt her. Margo
did, of course and for a while Bea played along. But Bea grabbed Margo
through the bars of her cell, Margo looked ready to collapse with fear!
When Bea and Mum went to court, Bea lied by saying she had not lost her
memory and forced Mum to go along with her. Mum got off scot-free, Bea
got extra charges. That was what Bea was like, she cared about her
mates. She confided in Erica Davidson about what really happened, Erica
said she was proud of what Bea did.
Bea soon became seriously ill, she thought at first she had a brain tumor
but it turned out that she had a serious kidney disorder. Kate
Peterson - being a doctor - diagnosed this. Bea was taken to hospital
for an emergency operation, Sandy Edwards had taken over as top dog and
Marie Winter had just arrived from Barnhurst. Marie took over during a
riot that was initially led by Sandy. When Bea returned from hospital
she was too weak to take over from Marie at first but later did when
they found out that Kate Peterson had been lagging and was possibly
responsible for Sandy Edwards' murder.
Bea's association with Joan Ferguson is famous in the PCBH series. To
say they hated each other would be a gross understatement. Ferguson set
out to topple Bea from the word go, she did everything she could to hurt
her. Bea was due for parole, but it was refused - Ferguson wasted no
time in rubbing it in! Bea decided to get The Freak off her back once
and for all. She "persuaded" a prisoner called Barbara Fields
to lure her to isolation so she could bash her. Chrissie Latham started
a fire as a diversion but Margo intervened and threw a lighted bottle of
meths into a storeroom full of turpentine, it resulted in the great
Wentworth fire during which Mouse and Barbara Fields were killed. Bea
and Ferguson fought in isolation, Bea knocked Ferguson out but left her
on the ground without finishing her off. Ferguson later regained consciousness
and attacked Bea, knocking her out. Bea was lucky to come
out of the fire alive and it was thanks to Paddy Lawson that she did.
Bea decided that she was losing the respect of the women so she decided
to escape. She disguised herself as an officer and walked out the front
gate! There were a load of trainee officers in that day. She got a job
as a servant to some posh lady called Sonia Hanlon. But Sonia found out
and tried to flee but Bea tied her up and went on her way. She later
sought Doreen's help and Doreen helped her for a while. She was
eventually recaptured and beaten up by Nola McKenzie and her thugs for
stealing Nola's money to escape.
Some time later, Nola McKenzie and Ferguson plotted to kill Bea. They
recruited a charlatan medium called Zara Moonbeam and forced her to see
that she was receiving messages from beyond the grave, from Bea's
daughter Debbie. Bea slowly went mad, eventually believing that her
daughter was trying to contact her. Nola and Ferguson placed a zip gun
in Bea's dressing gown with a note from Debbie but Lizzie found it
before Bea did. Bea was in the infirmary, mentally decaying. Lizzie sneaked
in and informed the great former top dog that The Freak and Nola
were plotting to drive her mad. Within seconds Bea's expression of pain
and insanity turned to one of anger, and revenge. She asked Mrs. Morris
to bring Nola to her, Lizzie had smuggled the gun into her. Nola
arrived. Bea's expression returned to one of despair and desperation.
Nola: "Well, what is it Smith. I'm busy!"
Bea: "Nola. Paddy and Debbie, they're both crying, frightened
because they're so alone".
Nola: "Oh, what is this?"
Bea: "Nola, come here."
Nola stoops down, smiling smugly.
Bea: "Paddy and Debbie, they're both waiting -"
Bea's expression changed again to one of extreme anger!
Bea: "For you!!!!!"
As she said these words, she shot Nola with the gun that Nola and
Ferguson had intended for her to use on herself - right in the middle of
Bea and Lizzie got extra charges for Nola's murder. Having failed with
Nola, the Freak recruited policeman's wife Sonia Stevens to be the next
to topple Bea. Sonia started organizing games for the women to get them
on side. Ferguson and Sonia set Bea up to thump Phyllis Hunt so that
Ferguson could sent her to solitary and make out that Bea was dangerous
and should be transferred. In solitary, Joan taunted Bea about Sonia
taking over and the conversation went something like this:
Bea: "You really think you've got it made don't you?!"
Joan: "I know it Smith, I'm so close to having you where I want you
I can smell it"
Bea: "Well you know what will happen to Stevens if she tries to
take over as top dog"
Joan: "Oh she's already taken over Smith, didn't anybody bother to
Bea: "Because she made one bucket of cheap booze? I wouldn't bet on
Joan: "Ah but she didn't make it, your drunken old mate did. Oh she
wasn't too eager at first but it's amazing what a bit of persuasion in
the middle of the night can do"
Bea: "You sadistic bitch!"
Joan: "I've got quite a production line going, Birdsworth on the
booze, Hunt on the gambling - oh you were set up by the way Smith but I
suppose you've already realised that. Now where was I? Oh yes, Stevens
will be looking after the drugs. I might even set up a fund if we make
too much money, I could name it after your daughter - The Debbie Smith
fund for hopeless-"
Bea attacks Joan Ferguson in her last dramatic performance. She thumps
her, slaps her, throws her against the wall - the lot! Unfortunately,
she couldn't have given Joan more help. Bea is transferred to Barnhurst
and leaves the series. A sad departure, as such a magnificent character
could never be replaced.
Some time later (a couple of years?), it is reported that Bea died in a
fire during a riot at Barnhurst, because she tried to stop it and save
the other inmates.
Val Lehman was the third longest-serving actress from the opening cast,
leaving in episode 400.
can't remember where I found some or all this info, as it was along time
ago. But thanks very much to which ever site It was, It was very useful.