As the Australian premiere of banished approaches - June 25th on BBC First - new articles and links to interviews with writer Jimmy McGovern have appeared online. Mediaweek shared one in which Jimmy discusses his original plan to create a show about the first hangman and Bennelong, the Aborigine.
How did Banished come about?
I can trace it back to working with Mac Gudgeon. We tried to do a story based around Bennelong, the Aborigine, and the first hangman. We did that for the BBC but it never got made. The head of BBC drama at the time was Jane Tranter who said to me, “If you don’t get this made as a movie in 18 months’ time we will do it on the BBC.” A few weeks later Jane left for the USA. [Laughs] That was the end of that. I always had that story about the hangman. I later decided to look for other stories from the period and use that hangman story too. It is a great story and why it has never been told by Australians I do not know. Back then Mac had a 90-minute script told from the Aboriginal perspective and I did one from the white person’s perspective. It was all about the hangman, Bennelong, and people like that. That was about 80 pages of script. I now have over 400 pages.
Did you have any involvement after the script?
As far as I am concerned I do the script. It only becomes a TV program after the final scene has been shot. They were shooting exteriors in Australia and I am getting phone calls saying that the scripts are running short! I was constantly rewriting, but as it turned out the scripts ended up being over.
Is it common to have to write more dialogue?
It has happened to me once or twice before. It was a clash between our style of filmmaking and Australian style. Australian TV seems to be a lot more talkative and fast paced. In England it is totally different. I was therefore arguing, “They are not short. But you have to be on the safe side and provide more. But in the end we had to cut things.”
Another in depth radio interview with Jimmy McGovern can be listened to here. Yesterday's BBC Points of View had an interview with the new BBC2 controller, Kim Shillinglaw, with fans of Banished given the opportunity to submit their questions about the decision not to renew Banished. You can watch again here, but frankly it was very disappointing.
Limehouse Creative shared their promo graphics for the Australian broadcast of Banished. Considering how popular and prominent a character Major Ross is, it's sad he wasn't included.