Hold the ironing press….. Danielle Cormack (pictured, left) has landed the ‘top dog’ role of Bea Smith in new Foxtel drama, Wentworth.
The 10-part reimagining of Prisoner, will reboot established characters and introduce new ones in the fictional Wentworth Detention Centre and will shake off the original series’ reputation for wafer-thin sets and occasionally over-the-top performances.
With significant changes from its original premise, it will also ask fans to re-think their memories of iconic characters in order to breathe a contemporary life into the ambitious show.
Some characters have been given new roles, such as Meg Jackson becoming Governor and Erica Davidson now pitched as a lawyer. The role of Doreen Anderson, originally played by Colette Mann, is now an Indigenous character. Officer Jim Fletcher is now Officer Matthew Fletcher.
Key roles are:
Wentworth’s latest arrival, suburban wife and mum Bea Smith: Danielle Cormack (Underbelly Razor, Rake)
GenY lesbian Franky Doyle: Nicole Da Silva (Rush, East West 101)
Liz Birdsworth: Celia Ireland (Laid, All Saints)
Young Aboriginal woman Doreen Anderson: newcomer Shareena Clanton
Newly-created character, crime matriarch Jacs Holt: Kris McQuade (Killing Time, The Circuit)
Correction staff and others:
Governor Meg Jackson: Catherine McClements (Rush, Tangle, Water Rats)
Deputy Vera Bennett: Kate Atkinson (Offspring, Rush)
Officer Matthew “Fletch” Fletcher: Aaron Jeffery (Underbelly Badness, McLeod’s Daughters)
Officer Will Jackson: Robbie Magasiva (Shortland Street)
and progressive and crusading lawyer Erica Davidson: Leeanna Walsman (Underbelly Badness)
Developed by Lara Radulovich and David Hannam the series is described as “a confronting drama set in the pressure cooker environment of a women’s prison. The inmates and the corrections staff of Wentworth Detention Centre will be forced to forge unlikely friendships and allegiances if they are to survive on the inside.”
The series will be shot on a purpose built prison set in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton and employ in excess of 300 cast and crew. So far none of the original Prisoner cast have been announced in cameo roles, or attached to the project, despite Val Lehman indicating she was keen to return in the role of the Governor.
Foxtel Executive Director of Television Brian Walsh said “Wentworth will be bold Australian storytelling with this remarkable group of actors portraying the rivalries, power struggles and heartbreak of prison life in a drama tailor-made for the subscription television audience.”
FremantleMedia Australia Director of Drama and Executive Producer Jo Porter said “Wentworth is a compelling character drama series about women and I’m absolutely thrilled with the superb cast we have assembled to bring them to life.”
As one of Australian TV’s most iconic soaps, Prisoner has previously been reimagined as a US series and a UK stage musical.
Wentworth will premiere in 2013 only on the SoHo channel. A four month shoot begins in Melbourne next week.
Photo: left to right, Danielle Cormack, Nicole da Silva, Aaron Jeffrey and Kris McQuade.