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Banged Up: Shock as MP Johnny Mercer smokes tobacco retrieved from the toilet

Channel 4's prison show has some jaw-dropping moments

Johnny Mercer in his prison cell on Banged Up
Johnny Mercer smoked a cigarette in prison show (Channel 4)

What did you miss?

Banged Up’s Johnny Mercer smoked smuggled tobacco after watching in horror as his cellmate used the toilet to retrieve it in jaw-dropping scenes.

The MP joined ex-MP Neil Parish, EastEnders actor Sid Owen, Strictly’s HRVY and more celebs to spend eight days behind bars at decommissioned Shrewsbury in a bid to show the reality of prisons.

Within hours, Mercer finds himself breaking a few rules including smoking a smuggled cigarette and smashing a window to get some air.

What, how and why?

Smoking was banned in UK prisons in 2018. Now it is a valuable contraband costing up to £1,000 per ounce, according to the show.

Mercer and his reformed contract killer cellmate Kevin Lane decide they would like to have a smoke but what comes next left the MP visibly shocked.

At first, the MP recoiled in horror when the former inmate began to use the toilet to get the tobacco for them to be able to have a smoke.

Tom Rosenthal, Sid Owen, Marcus Luther - Banged Up. (Channel 4)
Celebrities signed up to spend time behind bars to show people what prison is really like (Channel 4)

Horrified he puts it bluntly: "Is this coming out of your a**?"

To which his cellmate responded: "She’s out."

Mercer said: "Jesus christ that has come out of your a**."

"That’s s***," Kevin said. "I’ll strip this now like that. That’s where your cigarettes are… When you’re serving 20 years in prison a bit of s**t is not so much to worry about."

Overwhelmed by the smell, Mercer told him: "It f***ing stinks. We’re opening the window mate.”

Kevin responded: “The only thing you’ll be smelling in a moment will be tobacco.”

Johnny Mercer pictured in prison show Banged Up
Mercer took part in the prison show Banged Up (Channel 4)

When the window won't budge, Mercer proceeded to smash the glass so they have some air flowing within the four walls of their cell.

His cellmate said: "You’re an MP and you’re getting me in trouble." He added: "You’re a vandal."

In a moment of reflection, Mercer admitted he didn't need to smash the window or have a smoke.

Speaking about what's gone down, he said: "You begin to learn these tricks to survive. Like smuggling in phones and tobacco. It becomes a university of crime...

"I didn't have to smash the window. I didn't have to smoke. It's what you do to get by. I think that's what prison is. It's getting by."

Amidst the madness, they take a moment to enjoy a smoke.

What else happened on Banged Up?

Sid Owen pictured behind bars on prison show Banged Up
Sid Owen tried to break out of prison (Channel 4)

Emotional Owen made a failed attempt to make a great escape from prison, only getting him a little bit of extra time in the courtyard under the sunshine.

His attempt to break free landed him time in hot water as he was placed in the segregation unit (known as "the seg") where he was isolated from the rest of the prison and its inmates.

Reflecting on the show, he said: "It’s not a nice place. You have no choice. You’re told what to do. Whether you like it or not, you’ve got to do it. Now I know what it’s about, it’s enough to put anyone off for life. It’s very tough to see what my own family have been through, it’s sad."

Sid Owen in prison gear in Banged Up
Owen admitted he found prison life difficult (Channel 4)

In an interview with Yahoo, Owen said he was spurred on by a moment of desperation.

He said: "Every day you just want to leave. Just by looking at it, you know it is not a nice place. Just being there surrounded by hardened criminals."

Speaking about how the experience impacted his emotions, he said: "Being locked in, I broke down quite a few times. Hearing people’s stories, you do emphasise with them a bit because people have no choice where they come from."

He added: “The most challenging thing is just being behind a cell, they close the door and that’s you until the next day. It’s the boredom factor. Taking anyone’s freedom away."

Banged Up is available to watch on Channel Four On Demand.

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