BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand has announced its next local commission, a new drama by UK writer Jimmy McGovern (The Street, Cracker, Accused, Redfern Now) to be co-produced with BBC Two in the UK.
Banished is described as an epic seven part series loosely inspired by events in the 18th century when Britain established a penal colony on the other side of the world. It charts the lives, loves, relationships and battle for survival of a group of convicts, the marines that guard them and men who govern them in the early days of this settlement.
The cast features David Wenham (Top Of The Lake), Russell Tovey (Being Human), Myanna Buring (Ripper Street), Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour) and Ryan Corr (Love Child, Packed to the Rafters).
It will be produced by RSJ Films (Accused, The Street) and See-Saw Films (Top Of The Lake, The King’s Speech, Shame). Dan Percival will direc tepisodes 1 -3 and Jeffrey Walker directs episodes 4 – 7. Shaun Duggan (Accused) has written episode five.
Natalie Edgar, Director of Television BBC Worldwide ANZ, said: “This is a very exciting first commission for BBC First. It exemplifies all the things that BBC drama stands for with outstanding talent on both sides of the camera. Jimmy McGovern has been responsible for some of the most ground-breaking drama series created over the years and after the huge success of Top of the Lake I’m delighted to be working with See-Saw Films again as well as the talented team at RSJ.”
Jimmy McGovern added, “How the first convicts survived is the best story I’ve come across in over thirty years as a dramatist. When you’ve got something like that, you don’t worry about the narrative; you just concentrate on the characters. That is what we did. Consequently I don’t think I’ve ever written anything so character-driven.”
Jimmy McGovern’s fast-paced fictional seven-part series opens at dawn in New South Wales, Australia, 1788. Tents are pitched and there is a scattering of timber buildings on a strip of land between the impenetrable bush and the mighty Pacific Ocean.
It is here that the convicts transported on the First Fleet and their masters are waking up to another sweltering hot day in a place where anything can happen and death stalks everyone. With supplies running out and ill-equipped for life on this inhospitable shoreline, who will survive the next ten days?
David Wenham plays Governor Arthur Phillip a pragmatic idealist who hopes to turn this ramshackle settlement from penal colony to land of opportunity for all, while his nemesis Major Ross played by Joseph Millson (Holby City) thinks the only chance of survival is to rule with an iron fist.
Yet all that seems unshakeable are the passionate bonds of love and friendship forged between convicts: Elizabeth Quinn (Myanna Buring), Tommy Barrett (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and James Freeman (Russell Tovey). But before long this shared devotion is destined to challenge the very doctrines on which the fledging colony has been founded.
Also featuring in this epic series about human courage and endeavour, love, loss and impossible choices are: Ryan Corr as love-lorn Private MacDonald; Adam Nagaitis (The Inbetweeners 2) as the loathed Private Buckley; Ewen Bremner (Accused) as the pious Reverend Johnson, with Genevieve O’Reilly (The Honourable Woman) as his selfless wife; Brooke Harman (Dance Academy) as Deborah, Governor Phillip’s housekeeper; Orla Brady (Doctor Who Christmas Special 2013) plays intuitive convict Anne Meredith and Joanna Vanderham (The Paradise) is the dangerously beautiful convict Katherine McVitie.
Banished will be the first locally produced show to screen on new premium drama and comedy channel BBC First, which will launch in August.
Filming begins in Sydney next month before moving to Manchester in the UK.
It will screen in 2015.