British actor Rudi Dharmalingam (Tin Star, The Split), Mandy McElhinney and Geraldine Hakewill lead the cast of newly-announced ABC drama Wakefield, now shooting across Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Southern Highlands.

Produced by Jungle Entertainment in partnership with BBC Studios, the eight-parter created by Kristen Dunphy is set in a Blue Mountains psychiatric hospital, and described as a psychological mystery exploring the fine line between sanity and madness.

At the show’s centre is Dharmalingham’s Nik, a gifted psych nurse, blessed with a powerful combination of common sense and intuition. Nik is easily the sanest person in what is a pretty crazy place. But when a song gets stuck in his head, a dark secret from his past begins to intrude into his present, forming an intriguing puzzle that comes together as the series builds to its heart wrenching conclusion.

Starring alongside is an impressive ensemble cast including Dan Wyllie, Harriet Dyer, Ryan Corr, Felicity Ward, Harry Greenwood, Sam Simmons, Bessie Holland, Megan Smart, Pacharo Mzembe, Nadie Kammallaweera, Shapoor Batliwalla, Guy Simon, Miritana Hughes, Victoria Haralabidou, Wayne Blair, Heather Mitchell and Kim Gyngell.

Dunphy and Sam Meikle are the series’ showrunners, writing alongside Joan Sauers and Cathy Strickland, with Jocelyn Moorhouse and Kim Mordaunt to direct. The series producers are Shay Spencer and Ally Henville, with executive producers Jungle’s Chloe Rickard and Jason Burrows, and Dunphy, and the ABC’s Que Minh Luu and Sally Riley. Miekle is a co-executive producer. Screen Australia and Screen NSW have both invested in the production.

Rickard says, “Wakefield is undeniably authentic, poetic and powerful. Despite one in five Australians living with mental illness in their lifetime, social stigma on the issue of mental health still prevails – this series gets right to the heart of this controversial issue, whilst being hugely entertaining.“

Head of ABC of scripted Sally Riley says: “Kristen Dunphy has created a complex, thrilling world in Wakefield that will grip audiences as much as it will challenge them. We’re beyond excited to bring this multilayered story to the screen.”

Screen Australia head of content Sally Caplan says, “We are thrilled to support this experienced team, including producers Ally Henville and Shay Spencer, to create such an original drama that explores the complexities of mental illness with empathy and humour.”

Screen NSW head Grainne Brunsdon adds: “Given the recent bushfire devastation that the Blue Mountains and parts of the Southern Highlands have experienced, we’re delighted that this production will help to bring welcome investment in the areas and help a number of local businesses during filming.”

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