Ryan Corr stars as Corporal Matthew Macdonald in the TV series Banished.
Ryan Corr stars as Corporal Matthew Macdonald in the TV series Banished. Mark Rogers

The life and death drama of Banished

AUSTRALIA is now the "lucky country" but it's doubtful the early convict settlers felt lucky to be sent here.

The challenges they and their overseers faced provide plenty of drama in the BBC's new mini-series.

Banished is the BBC's first Australian co-production and follows the struggles of the convict men and women and those who governed them in the first two weeks following the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove.

"It throws up these ideas of what it would have been like to be in that time," actor Ryan Corr tells APN.

"When there's a social ladder and hierarchy, rank, particularly for my character, can dictate what you feel personally."

Corr plays Corporal Matthew Macdonald, who must enforce Governor Arthur Phillip's rules even if he doesn't agree with them.

"Your job and who you were within that society, this new system, was probably more important to my character than his love and what he wanted," he says.

Ryan Corr and Joanna Vanderham in a scene from Banished.
Ryan Corr and Joanna Vanderham in a scene from Banished. Mark Rogers

"A lot of the convict women during that time were essentially owned by the soldiers. Convict men and women didn't have a right to each other unless they were married."

The seven-part drama was the highest rating show of its timeslot when it aired in the UK earlier this year.

"A lot of that has to do with (writer/creator) Jimmy McGovern," Corr says.

"He writes these characters who are so fully-fledged and they reveal themselves in their dialogue so they don't need this huge set-up.

"As an actor when you're mining a script, and looking over episode to episode, and those things start to reveal themselves to you, it means you're on to someone who really knows what they're doing."

The mini-series also stars David Wenham, MyAnna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey.

Banished premieres tonight at 8.30pm on BBC First.


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