Thursdays at 8:30pm from June 25


Lives, loves and battle for survival

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.

Interview Quotes

MyAnna Buring on what attracted her to the role of Elizabeth Quinn 'It was her heart really. When I first read the script I felt very strongly that not only did she have a great heart but also that she was the heartbeat for three other characters in this story: Freeman, Tommy Barrett and Private Buckley.'

Julian Rhind-Tutt discussed what Banished is about 'The characters are trapped in a tiny community; they are close to starvation; they are living under military rule and surviving as best they can; it’s classic and exciting Jimmy McGovern but in an even more compressed and tense situation with even higher stakes.'

Joseph Millson describing Major Ross 'Jimmy McGovern gave me the best advice about his character, which is that 90% of the people around him disgust him and the other 10% are his interiors. He’s able to do his job and maintain tight discipline because to him these convicts are not human beings, they’re rats.'

Character profiles


James Freeman

Played by Russell Tovey

Part of a tight group with Tommy and Elizabeth, he is in love with Elizabeth but his deep friendship with Tommy allows him to put conflicting feelings aside. He finds himself in desperate trouble when Marston begins stealing his already limited food rations leading to a cataclysmic train of events.


Tommy Barrett

Played by Julian Rhind-Tutt

A man with a chequered background but fundamentally honourable, with a steely sense of pride and an unshakeable set of values. He is one of the natural leaders within the convicts and a loyal friend to James. He is also deeply in love with Elizabeth. With relationships between the convicts prohibited, his life soon hangs in the balance when she is caught leaving the men’s dorm.


Elizabeth Quinn

Played by MyAnna Buring

A passionate, strong woman, she is totally and utterly in love with Tommy Barrett and has a close friendship with James Freeman. She will do whatever it takes to protect those she loves.


Governor Arthur Phillip

Played by David Wenham

A pragmatic idealist who hopes to turn this ramshackle settlement from penal colony to land of opportunity for all. Faced with a series of moral dilemmas, the Governor must decide whether the rules of England fit the new society he has been tasked to establish.


Major Ross

Played by Joseph Millson

Concerned only with the comfort of his men, Major Ross believes the only chance of survival is to rule with an iron fist. He is attracted by Katherine McVitie and doesn’t let the fact that she is in love with another of his men stop him from taking what he wants.


Katherine McVitie

Played by Joanna Vanderham

Katherine has fallen in love with Macdonald on the way over. A fragile girl, she believes he will cherish and look after her and is devastated when Major Ross forces her into his bed.


Corporal MacDonald

Played by Ryan Corr

A soldier from a working class background, Macdonald has been in the military from a young age. He is desperately in love with female convict Katherine McVitie but his relationship with her sets him on a collision course with his superior officer Major Ross.


Sergeant Timmins

Played by Cal MacAninch

A decent man who is compelled to support Major Ross even though he doesn’t like some of the things he does.


Housekeeper Deborah

Played by Brooke Harman

The Governor’s housekeeper, confidante and sounding board. They have a mutual respect and trust for each other and are very close.


Private Buckley

Played by Adam Nagaitis

An outsider amongst the marines and universally loathed by the convicts, Buckley is desperately lonely. He isn’t allowed to share any of the unmarried female convicts and is driven by a need for companionship and friendship.


Captain David Collins

Played by David Dawson

As Judge Advocate, Collins is responsible for the colony’s entire legal establishment. Together with Governor Phillip he sits in court and decides on the level of punishment appropriate. Slowly his view of the convicts changes as he realizes everything is not always black and white.


Mary Johnson

Played by Genevieve O’Reilly

The loyal and loving wife of Reverend Johnson, she has been deeply affected by loss. When Anne Meredith tells her she can see her sadness and can offer solace, Mary is horrified but fascinated to know more.


Reverend Johnson

Played by Ewen Bremner

Charged with taking care of God’s flock he must find a way to enlist the support of starving convicts and disgruntled soldiers in order to build a church and establish a spiritual domain in a land where more basic needs are pressing.


Anne Meredith

Played by Orla Brady

Mysterious and enigmatic, Anne believes she can speak to the dead and pass on messages. In a Christian society she attracts suspicion and fear, particularly from the Reverend who is not happy about her bond with his wife.



Played by Rory McCann

A menacing bully with a violent temper, Marston knows the establishment have made a mistake making him the only blacksmith in the community. It makes him indispensable and means he can get away with anything.


Letters Malloy

Played by Ned Dennehy

An educated convict, Malloy reads and writes other people’s letters for them. His concern for other people’s welfare means he often tries to make the harsh reality into something a little more palatable which gets him into trouble.

Next on...

Episode 1, Series 6

Sunday August 25 at 11:20pm

Call The Midwife

The team reunite but all is not well when a change of management shakes up Nonnatus House.

Episode 2, Series 6

Monday August 26 at 12:20am

Call The Midwife

An explosion at the docks brings heartache to the people of Poplar.

Episode 3, Series 6

Monday August 26 at 1:20am

Call The Midwife

The maternity home faces closure and Barbara cares for a Chinese first-time mother.

Episode 4, Series 6

Monday August 26 at 2:20am

Call The Midwife

An expectant mother with financial struggles enters into a painful arrangement with her cousin.

Episode 5, Series 6

Monday August 26 at 3:20am

Call The Midwife

Nonnatus House welcomes a new recruit, and a young man captures Fred and Violet's hearts.

Episode 6, Series 6

Monday August 26 at 4:20am

Call The Midwife

Valerie Dyer cares for a pregnant Somali woman whose culture has some unfamiliar aspects.

Episode 7, Series 6

Monday August 26 at 5:20am

Call The Midwife

The legacy of thalidomide becomes apparent and Nurse Crane faces an unexpected crisis.

Episode 8, Series 6

Monday August 26 at 6:25am

Call The Midwife

A wedding is hastily arranged following an unexpected turn of events.

BBC First

BBC First, the home of unforgettable characters, unexpected stories and unmissable moments.

What's on now

Get it on...

Australian audiences have access to five BBC TV channels: BBC First, BBC Knowledge, UKTV, CBeebies and World News.

Newsletter Sign Up