Banished is BBC Two’s new convicts drama from Accused writer Jimmy McGovern.
From the makers of Top Of The Lake, the seven-part series stars Myanna Buring (Ripper Street), Russell Tovey (Being Human) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour).
The cast also includes David Wenham (Top Of The Lake), Joseph Millson (Holby City), Ewen Bremner (Accused), Genevieve O’Reilly (The Honourable Woman), Orla Brady (Strike Back) and Joanna Vanderham (The Paradise).
Thursday 5 March 2015, 9pm
New South Wales, 1788. Dawn is breaking over a ramshackle camp where the British convicts transported on the First Fleet are waking up to another sweltering hot day alongside their Royal Navy marine guards and their masters. In this fledgling penal colony anything can happen – and death stalks everybody.
Convict Elizabeth Quinn awakes screaming from a nightmare. She must get out of her beloved Tommy Barrett’s bunk and the convict men’s dorm fast, both are prohibited and punishable.
She runs, but Private Buckley the most loathed soldier, catches her. A scuffle ensues and Elizabeth is dragged before her social superiors: Governor Phillip; his trusted adviser the colony’s judge advocate Captain Collins; Major Ross; Reverend Johnson and his wife Mary assigned to impose punishment. Resolute in refusing to expose the man she loves; knowing full well Tommy would hang for sleeping with her, Elizabeth is sentenced to 25 lashes.
But will her principled and headstrong Tommy be so enraged by this punitive decision that he intervenes? If he does he will hang.
Elsewhere the morning reveille has sounded and Elizabeth and Tommy’s dearest friend, James Freeman finds himself in serious trouble. Menacing convict Marston the camp’s indispensable blacksmith, is stealing James’s food and without his paltry sustenance he will die.
With supplies running out, who can James turn to for help and justice – marooned as he is on this inhospitable shoreline between the impenetrable bush and the mighty Pacific Ocean? At nightfall torches are lit and banging is heard as the hangman’s scaffold is erected. In the cold light of day will love and compassion prevail or will the iron fist triumph?
Thursday 12 March 2015, 9pm
Major Ross is apoplectic when he hears the news about Tommy and Elizabeth. Always a pragmatist, his military experience tells him that a failure to mete out punishment will lead to social instability or worse. And in spite of himself, Major Ross is drawn to a beautiful young convict, Kitty McVitie.
But there is a complication. Kitty and Private MacDonald are deeply in love and enjoy a blissful monogamous relationship. However, under the makeshift laws of the colony unmarried convict women have become the sexual chattels of the soldiers, and with women in short supply sharing female convicts is the norm. All too soon Major Ross presents the young lovers with a heart wrenching dilemma.
On the beach the enigmatic convict Anne Meredith tells the vicar’s wife, Mary Johnson that she sees sadness in her and can offer solace. Genteel Mary is horrified but finds herself fascinated to know more. Can Mary’s sorrows be truly assuaged by Anne?
Meanwhile a bid to save their friend James from starving, Tommy and Elizabeth have joined forces with him to tackle bully Marston, who is persisting in stealing their mate’s food. Grassing up Marston to the Governor has achieved nothing except making James a pariah amongst the entire convict community. Drastic action is required. In the dead of when night wild dingoes howl and the moon shines brightly on the ocean not everyone in the camp is asleep.
In the morning Marston is gone and James is suspected of murder but there is no corpse. A waiting game begins; with no proof of wrongdoing fair-minded Governor Phillip decrees he will wait to see whether Marston has escaped or has indeed lost his life.
Thursday 19 March 2015, 9pm
Gathered on the beach under the blistering sun, Reverend Johnson leads the community in prayer as they bury another poor soul who has succumbed to the hardships of life in the colony. Suddenly shouting is heard from out at sea, where some marines are gesturing that their fishing nets have been slashed. But by whom?
Later there is much joy and jubilation as the marriage of Elizabeth and Tommy is blessed by Reverend Johnson in the partially constructed church. A structure that the convicts are voluntarily helping their vicar build with whatever blood, sweat and tears they can muster after their penal labour.
When Governor Phillip arrives to investigate what is happening, he orders a stop to work on the church. With rations running so short, all energy and effort must go into the colony’s development, spiritual edifices have to come second. Reverend Johnson is crestfallen.
Happily, doubly good news soon follows: Elizabeth discovers she is pregnant and Deborah the governor’s trusted housekeeper has found a strong, sweet-natured convict, Stubbins, with to fill the crucial role of camp blacksmith.
By the side of a small, shady inlet Captain Collins and Mary Johnson have begun literacy classes for those convicts they think worthy of bettering themselves. Stubbins is one of these lucky few and looks forward to the day he can read for himself a letter he cherishes from his wife. But his friend Letters Molloy a wise and unusually a literate convict, worries about the consequences of his friend’s edification.
Meanwhile, Kitty McVitie is torn apart by her devotion to her recently elevated lover Corporal MacDonald and being coerced into sexual servitude with Major Ross. Extra scraps of rice cannot compensate for her hurt. Her increasing despair propels her to an extreme bid for freedom.
Then a chance discovery is made. Overwhelming implicated as the killer, James, has no choice but to run for his life. He charges into the bush in a hail of bullets. Sergeant Timmins’s and his men are in hot pursuit.
Thursday 26 March 2015, 9pm
James Freeman has vanished deep into the dense bush. No man has ever been known to survive there and Sergeant Timmins decides following him is futile and way too dangerous for his men.
Back at camp when Major Ross questions Timmins about the escapee, his sergeant is economical with the truth. Word amongst the convicts is that James is dead man, either shot by the soldiers or about to perish in the terrifying and infinite wilderness of the hinterland.
At the officers’ tents there is disquiet. Reverend Johnson challenges Major Ross about the misery his sexual demands are causing young Kitty. A compromise is reached, which helps empower Kitty and her life becomes more tolerable. But Corporal McDonald who dearly loves Kitty is worried about these new developments. Will this new arrangement bring the threaten of a deeper relationship?
Sharing her sorrow with the insightful convict, Anne Meredith has given Mary Johnson a sense of peace and renewed hope for the future. After years of fearful abstinence, the Johnsons resume their conjugal rights in the cosiness of their canvas tent.
When Stubbins gives Captain Collins his wife’s letter to read the honourable officer is in a quandary about whether to tell the young convict what her words actually say. The truth could bring unnecessary heartbreak.
Then against impossible odds James staggers half dead back into camp. With Marston’s body found and identified, James is duly sentenced to hang. But the colony does not have an official hangman. One must be found and no-one wants the job. Will Governor Phillip’s enticements work?
Thursday 2 April 2015, 9pm
To everyone’s amazement Freeman is alive, and Major Ross is deeply affected by a personal loss.
Thursday 9 April 2015, 9pm
When the truth of Private Buckley’s accusations about Elizabeth Barrett sink in, Tommy Barrett sees red. The soldier runs for his life but he is not quick enough, and Tommy batters him to within an inch of his life. (Pictured: Tommy Barrett and Elizabeth Quinn)
Despite James Freeman and Elizabeth’s attempts to stop him, Tommy does a thorough job. For a convict to assault a soldier is a capital offence, and this time Major Ross feels there can be no exceptions or reprieves – Tommy Barrett must be made an example of and hang. For once Governor Phillip agrees with his nemesis and Tommy is unceremoniously frog-marched through the camp to prison.
Meanwhile the young love between Kitty McVitie and Private MacDonald is beginning to curdle. Are Major Ross’s underhand tactics winning her over?
Thursday 16 April 2015, 9pm
James Freeman faces the most difficult decision of his life. With the prisoners far outnumbering the soldiers, what will the outcome be?
Watch the trailer…
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