BBC Worldwide commissions first series for new channel with ‘epic and ambitious’ series Banished

BBC Worldwide logoBBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand has commissioned a seven part television drama series about British convicts sent to Australia in the 18th century following its success with the critically acclaimed Top of the Lake.

The series called Banished is the first commission for the new BBC First channel, which the broadcaster is launching on Foxtel later this year after canning its 50-year deal with the ABC last April, in 2015.

Created by acclaimed screen-writer and creator of the ABC series Redfern Now, Jimmy McGovern, Banished, is co-produced by See-Saw films, producers of Top of the Lake and The King’s Speech, and RSJ Films, joining forces for the first time.

The series described as fast-paced, “epic and ambitious” by the BBC will open in 1788 New South Wales and focus on the lives, loves and relationships of the exiled convicts and the marines who guarded them in the early days of settlement.

BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand and BBC Two have co-commissioned the series to screen on BBC First next year. Filming will start in Sydney in April and then move to Manchester in the UK.

David Wenham, of Top of the Lake, will star in the series, alongside Russell Tovey, of Being Human, Myanna Buring, of Ripper Street, Julian Rhind-Tutt, of The Hour and Ryan Corr, of Wolf Creek 2.

Wenham will play Governor Arthur Phillip and in the series plays a pragmatic idealist who hopes to turn a ramshackle settlement from a penal colony to a land of opportunity.

McGovern said: “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.”

Natalie Edgar, director of television for BBC Worldwide ANZ, said in a statement: “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.”


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