[Episode Discussion] 429 - VANESSA FRAKE - The Woman In Charge Of Britain’s Worst Prison!

Vanessa Frake-Harris worked for 27 years as "Governor" of Wormwood Scrubs - one of Britain's most infamous prisons.

Vanessa shares some of her most harrowing stories about what really happens behind the walls of a high security prison. From spending 2 months with serial killer Rose West, to throwing Libertines frontman Pete Doherty into segregation, the Governor has lived and breathed the depths of prison life.

Vanessa speaks openly about how she believes prisons don't reform offenders as they claim to, how inmates can manipulate officers to smuggle in drugs, and how prisoners are recruited by staff as informants. Plus what happens when someone dies in prison, and how an inmate got their revenge on Vanessa...

Once you've finished listening, go and grab Vanessa's incredible book 'The Governor' on Amazon!

Listen here!

Vanessa’s book


I don't know how they do for views, but these are my favourite Happy Hour Guest Episodes. Real people and real stories. Loved this ep! Jack, I know you've said you love these types of eps too so please do keep them coming!


I’ve only just started listening and annoyingly will have to finish later. I’m going to have to go back and watch (audio pleb here) the video of when she says “child abuse” in answer to the crime question. The misunderstanding of the question was quite spectacular and I can only imagine the boys faces.


Probably the greatest first ‘Get to Know’ question there will ever be


I never knew Tom Jones was such a criminal


Really really enjoyed this episode, one of my favourite guests that has been on this year. Her job is so different to my own and it really does feel like another world to me. I feel like there could be multiple episodes to cover all of Vanessa’s stories, so many years in that line of work must have been tough, so I have a lot of respect for people that stay working for decades in that industry. As she covered briefly it takes a lot of work undoubtedly to get to her role, especially starting as a women in the 80s. Love the life story episodes, and I also love that the interview included a lot about her life, not just questions about specific prisoners from start to finish. 💛


The child abuse bit is up there with the Chocolate Man incident


God that’s one of the weirdest sentences I’ve ever said




I think this is gonna go down as one of my favourite happy hours. Vanessa is truly insightful and obviously proud of the work she has done and rightfully so. Her stories and way of telling them are brilliant and hope we get an episode 2 with her. She is also quite the laugh and got along with the lads brilliantly!


Was unsure during the get to know questions but turned out to be a banger of an episode!


I currently work as a prison officer and it's a bit nuts hearing Jack say that he couldn't deal with that job because I remember shaking out of nerves when I went to meet him after one of the shows I went to 🤣🤣


I mean you lads always look so happy during hospital guards! 🤣


Was meant to go on an escort to the hospital today but thankfully the guy refused. Genuinely hospital escorts and bed watch are really boring. The first hour or so is good because you're off the fast paced nature of the wing but then you realise you're just handcuffed to a prisoner with literally nothing to do but wait 😂


I'm a copper so I know what you mean! Such a nice excuse to kick back and take it a bit more slow then the usual hectic shifts


Stevie definitely has chizz all over him


How the fuck does Jack not know who Rose West is?


I feel like he’s literally made references to them both before as well. As well as him having history with old Ian Huntley (crazy sentence)


He’s definitely mentioned them before.


I think he's just blanked on the names because he's definitely brought her up before


I thought the same. I'm really into true crime but I knew about rose west when I was really young


That almost coincidence with jacks dad was honestly mental


Great ep! Would love a part 2 of more stories. Also just wanna praise the lads for how great they are at interviews especially with the range of serious and comedic guests.


JME said he would stop lying in court


Class episode lads. Some crazy stories and reckon there’s easily a part 2 and 3 if you want. On another note it’s mad how easily you two switch from the more comedy based main shows to some of the more serious guest stuff. Top class as always.


Did anyone else know Douglas Bader from horrible histories and their song 'the few." I just kept on repeating "he came back... just like Robbie." Which removes the seriousness from the conversation


YES ME!! I WAS THINKING OF THAT THE ENTIRE TIME!! ''My name is douglas bader let me tell of my ordeal, lost both legs in an accident, these ones are not real. (🎵theyre not real🎵)"


Yess I read the book as well as a kid before the song came out and I remember being like woah!!!! Also she's slightly misremembering his story, his actual story is so much more extradionady. He lost both his legs in the 1930s, was discharged by the RAF, learned to refly again for an energy company I believe and then fought his way back into being accepted by the RAF.


The Rose West story is one of the best stories in HH history. Bit of a slow start but a great ep in the end. 🙌🏻


Really enjoyed this ep!! Already asking for a part 2 please 😁


One of the top top guest shows ever, for sure!! The bit about Jack’s dad, how mad


The first get to know question is a peak happy hour moment


Don’t worry Jack I also thought she meant gun turrets😂


Only half way through and already this is one of my favourite guest eps. Please can we have more ‘real people’ guests or even a part 2 with Vanessa, she’s sick ✌🏼


How didn't Jack or Stevie know what an 11+ was? I've only just turned 30 and it was a thing when i was in school?




Oh that's fair enough, I just found it odd they'd both never heard of it but if you haven't either I guess it wasn't a thing there


Loved this episode. It amazed me how much her role as a prison officer is almost identical to my role as a mental health nurse, was like listening to someone describe work 😂


I thought this episode was fantastic! Vanessa was a really great guest, and her stories were all riveting. I'm just sad I've already listened to it and can't listen again and have it be fresh ha.


Great guest ep. Pt2 definitely needed! More from the world of policing/crime please! 👮


Great EP, glad decided Jaack didn’t do little his playing dumb act for this!


Gonna get her book, she’s incredible, such a good story teller and you guys asked all the questions I was wondering. Fascinating. Thanks guys!! 💛


JME's awnser to the crime you had to commit once was lying under oath not fraud or extortion 🤣


Louis Mountbatten was mentioned this episode! Please can somebody ask me how they figured out what shampoo he used?! Great ep 😃


Took a while to get going this one I think ( bar the sex offender part) could of skipped some of it to do with the MBE imo but once it got into the actual prison stories part I enjoyed it


Yeah she didn’t come off as a huge royalist or anything to me at least she seems like a very good person but that was slightly jarring


Woulnd't even say jarring..just not for me.


Fair enough lad anyone taking positives from the british empire will always get a wee bit under my skin tho lol


i can tell by your name my man hahahah..I do agree though


Hahahaha nice one I actually wish I could change it lmao it’s a bit inappropriate for a user name but I guess at least its true


about 15 minutes in and she must have mentioned her love for the queen about 10 times


She’s talking about getting an MBE what do you expect haha


Being proud to be a ‘member of the british empire’ is quite a big red flag but apart from that she seems very sound tbf definitely didn’t ruin the episode or that


Nothing wrong with being honoured for your craft


Good thing I didn’t say that then. You can be honoured in ways that don’t involve the most brutal empire in history headed by parasites. People who do good work obviously deserve rewards.


I think not being proud of your country is a bigger red flag. Have some respect.


Respect for who? Should I respect a country purely because I live in it or should I wait until it does something worth being proud of? There’s a pretty genuine chance that nothing in history has caused more suffering than the British Empire. Beaming with pride


Leave the country then… why should she not be proud about receiving an award just because you find the name controversial. Average far lefty.


I enjoyed this part because Vanessa got to talk about something about herself she is proud of. She was nominated for amazing work for the country, not the Queen personally. If you've listened to other interviews with Vanessa, she doesn't get to talk about herself much, its just 'whos the biggest criminal you've met' ect ect. I like that the boys allowed her to talk about her actual self. If this makes any sense. And im not personally a royal family fan.


She has plenty to be proud of. Being a member of the british empire is nothing to be proud of


That's personal opinion though isnt it.


What’s there to be proud of then exactly? I’m getting lots of downvotes so surely one person here can tell me what’s so good about an empire


I’m not patriotic in the slightest, but surely it’s not difficult to understand why a career of hard work and dedication being recognised in such a major way is something she’s proud of? She’s proud of the award, not claiming we should recolonise Pakistan.


Never said she shouldnt be proud that’s she’s been awarded. The recognition wouldn’t change whether she accepted it or not. My issue here is clearly with MBEs not the Governor put people are acting like I’m having a dig at her


I don’t think your problem is with her, and as somebody with a lot of Irish heritage I understand your dislike of the Royal Family and the British Empire. None of that changes the fact that an MBE/OBE/Knighthoods are probably the highest and most recognisable award a ‘normal’ member of the public can be bestowed with. My point is you’re saying that there’s nothing to be proud about when it comes to being a member of the British Empire, which is a point I don’t disagree with, but that’s not why she’s proud of the award. She’s proud of what it represents. People don’t want to win The Emirates FA Cup because they bloody love the airline, in the same way people don’t want accept an MBE because they think the empire was great.


I think we’re pretty much in agreement too mate apart from the last bit, my point is you shouldn’t be proud of what an MBE, etc represents (regardless of how it’s viewed socially, because you’re absolutely right that some people see it as extremely prestigious) you should be proud of the good work that you’ve done. At the end of the day I think it just comes down to whether you take an offer of validation from an evil empire as a spit in the face or as a reward. Essay over lol thanks for being nice


You're clearly looking for a reaction, who wouldn't be proud to be recognised at the absolute highest level and receiving the award from a reigning monarch regardless of views on monarchy? In her view she was just doing her job but someone actually acknowledged an everyday person and she was publicly awarded for her services. She can be very proud of the medal and title she received. I'm sure you'll be happy when you get your next star on your name badge at maccys.


Job shaming are we? What would be wrong with a job at McDonald’s? Loads of people have had the sense to reject that poxy award. Surely she’s received many awards for her good work whats wrong with mentioning those ones ?


And before everyone downvotes you, and jumps on your back. Jack has expressed his disdain for the royal family multiple times.


exactly he just changes his views depending on who he’s talking to


What’s wrong with that?


Had to turn it off after 20 mins she is so annoying