Blackfella Films cranks up ‘Black B*tch’ for the ABC

Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths.

Blackfella Films’ Black B*tch (working title), a six-part drama for the ABC revolving around high stakes ambition, betrayal and treachery in the nation’s capital, started shooting today.

Directed by Rachel Perkins, the series stars Deborah Mailman as Alex Irving, a charismatic and contradictory Indigenous woman who is thrust into the national limelight after a horrific event.

Rachel Griffiths co-stars as Australia’s embattled Prime Minister Rachel Anderson, who, seeing a publicity goldmine for her party, makes her a captain’s pick for the Senate.

But Alex wants to be more than just a political stunt: she wants to make a difference. So after Alex is betrayed by the PM she sets out for revenge that will send the political establishment into meltdown.

The supporting cast includes Harry Richardson (Poldark, Dr Thorne), William McInnes, Aaron Pedersen, Rob Collins, Anthony Hayes, Celia Ireland, Trisha Morton-Thomas, James Sweeny, David Roberts, Luke Carroll, Adele Perovic, Huw Higginson and newcomer Shantae Barnes Cowan.

Blackfella Films’ Darren Dale and Miranda Dear are the producers and co-creators with Griffiths. The writers are Pip Karmel, Angela Betzien and Stuart Page as script producer/writer.

The series is shooting in Sydney, Canberra and central Queensland with Garry Phillips as the DOP and Anousha Zarkesh as the casting director. Keshet International is handling international sales while Endeavour Content reps US rights.

ABC head of Indigenous Kelrick Martin said: “Deborah Mailman is a national treasure and we couldn’t be prouder to be providing her with her first lead role in a TV series. Along with the rest of this incredible cast, we also want to give a huge cheer to the team at Blackfella Films, who are once again working incredibly hard to achieve this landmark show for ABC.”

Dale and Dear said: “It is testament to the power and relevance of this story that it has attracted such a stellar line-up of extraordinary actors. We are thrilled that Deborah Mailman has her first starring role in a major drama series. The chemistry between her and Rachel Griffiths will be electrifying.”

Penny Smallacombe, head of Indigenous at Screen Australia, added: “The complex issues faced by the headstrong Indigenous female lead in Black B*tch will push audiences to grapple with the harsh realities of both federal and community politics in Australia.”

The investors include Screen Australia, Create NSW, Screen Queensland and Screen Canberra.

This is the second production to benefit from the KI Content Fund (the first was Ecosse Films’ The Trial Of Christine Keeler for BBC One), which aims to bring high-profile projects with global appeal to a wider audience via KI’s worldwide distribution.