This time last month I was blogging about Poldark and redcoats. I got turned off Poldark pretty quickly when it became clear that there were going to be far more longing looks than actual action. But when another series turned up on my radar, fronted by another former Being Human cast member, I couldn’t really ignore it. ‘Specially as it has redcoats.
Banished is set in a penal colony in Australia, and just as a concept, that’s pretty interesting. It also has a pretty damn good cast; in the lead is Russell Tovey, who I’m still convinced was once one of Crabbe and Goyle (apparently it’s not true, but it should be). Then you’ve got Rory McCann, who you’ll recognise as Game of Throne’s ‘Hound’. The reverend is Ewen Bremner, who was ‘Spud’ in Trainspotting, then there’s Orla Brady, who you lot will remember from Wurthering Heights. Finally, there’s good old David Wenham, who has been in everything from 300 to Lord of the Rings.
So yeah, it’s a well cast series. It is also set in a really interesting time and place. At one point the governor of the new penal colony muses on how his friends asked him when he was leaving. He later realises that what they were really asking was when the scum of England would be taken away. Transportation seems like a massive effort to take, given that many of the prisoners were only serving set-length sentences. There’s at least one Australian joke that points out the British must be mad if they discovered such a paradise and sent their prisoners there.
One thing the series isn’t, is gentle. A thousand convicts and a hundred soldiers, a long way from home, and it was never going to be pretty. Unlike other series, it doesn’t shy away from showing blood onscreen, or examining just how hard things were for women. Family viewing, it ain’t.
But overall, the series is running along fairly well, and while my tastes might be the same as everyone’s, I expect to continue watching this one longer than I did with Poldark.