BBC First has confirmed its first local commission, Banished, will finally premiere on the channel from Thursday June 25th at 8.30pm, starting with a double episode on Foxtel and Fetch TV.
The epic seven-part series from award-winning writer/creator Jimmy McGovern has been criticised for ignoring Australia’s indigenous past, however when it aired in the UK earlier this year it became the fifth highest rating drama series to be shown on BBC Two in the last decade, with a series average of 3.2 million viewers.
Loosely inspired by events in the 18th century when Britain established a penal colony on the other side of the world, Banished stars David Wenham (Top of the Lake), Ryan Corr (The Water Diviner), Russell Tovey (Being Human), Myanna Buring (Ripper Street) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour). The ambitious series charts the lives, loves 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.
Although it is set in the stark historical reality of the founding of the penal colony it is not the story of Australia and how it came to be, but a tale of love, faith, justice and morality played out on an epic scale in a confined community where the stakes are literally life and death.
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 thinks the only chance of survival is to rule with an iron fist. 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 (Trainspotting)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.
Tim Christlieb, Acting Director of Television, BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand, said: “We are very excited to be bringing BBC First’s first local commission to Australian audiences. It has been a huge ratings success in the UK and in keeping with the ambition we have for the channel is a genuine blockbuster with a fantastic cast. Set over a couple of weeks in the early days of the British settlement it’s a fast-paced story that will bring home the terrible choices faced by those battling to establish the colony.”