SBS secures historical hit drama series Roots

10 May, 2016

News Release

Roots is a historical portrait of American slavery, recounting the journey of one family and their will to survive, and ultimately carry on their legacy despite hardship.

SBS continues to build on its reputation for offering the world’s best international dramas by bringing the next big U.S. television series Roots to Australia.

The series is a remake of the original which was released in1977, and still remains the most-watched TV drama* in U.S television history and Australia’s tenth most-watched program of the 20th century**.

The historical hit drama is based on the 1976 Pulitzer Prize-winning book written by Alex Haley , Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The New York Times best-seller also introduces the character Kunte Kinte, a name that has become ingrained in American culture as the slave who fought back.

Marshall Heald, SBS Director of Television and Online Content, said:
“The original series was a huge success that had a massive impact on audiences when it was released almost 40 years ago.

“The landmark series addresses many difficult issues that people have faced throughout history. SBS is honoured to be sharing this story with current fans and a new generation.”

LeVar Burton, who played Kunta Kinte in 1977, is the Co-Executive Producer for the remake and said:
“Nearly 40 years ago I had the privilege to be a part of an epic television event that started an important conversation in America. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this new retelling and start the dialogue again, at a time when it is needed more than ever."

The epic family saga hosts some of Australia’s leading and award-winning directors with Philip Noyce (Rabbit Proof Fence) and Bruce Beresford (Mao’s Last Dancer, Driving Miss Daisy, Breaker Morant) both directing episodes.

The extraordinary cast line-up includes Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker (Fiddler) and Anna Paquin (Nancy Holt); Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Laurence Fishburne (Alex Haley); Golden Globe Award winning and Emmy Award nominated actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Tom Lea); Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose (Kizzy); Grammy Award winner Tip “T.I.” Harris (Cyrus); Chad L. Coleman (Mingo); Emayatzy Corinealdi (Belle); Matthew Goode (Dr. William Waller); Derek Luke (Silla Ba Dibba); Mekhi Phifer (Jerusalem); James Purefoy (John Waller); Erica Tazel (Matilda). The series also introduces Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte and Regé-Jean Page as Chicken George.

Roots will air on SBS over 2 big weeks, commencing Wednesday 27 July at 8.30pm

•Episode one:  Wednesday, 27 July at 8.30pm on SBS
•Episode two: Thursday, 28 July  at 8.30pm on SBS
•Episode three: Wednesday, 3 August at 8.30pm on SBS
•Episode four: Thursday, 4 August at 8.30pm on SBS

*Based on an article written by TIME online
 ** Based on an article written by Fairfax using approximate ranking and estimates from ACNielsen.