• ‘True Colours’, coming to NITV and SBS on Monday 4 July. (NITV)Source: NITV
Meet the key characters in this gripping new Australian drama, streaming now at SBS On Demand.
SBS Guide

27 Jun 2022 - 11:33 AM  UPDATED 14 Jul 2022 - 1:01 PM

After a long time away, Detective Toni Alma is assigned to investigate a suspicious car accident in her hometown of Perdar Theendar. What was the injured young local woman, Mariah, doing in country closed for men’s business? And who drove the other car whose tracks remain behind hers? Detective Nick Gawler arrives to assist, and with local police officer, Samuel Alma, the three have a mystery to unravel.

From creators Warren H. Williams and Erica Glynn, and writers Steven McGregor, Erica Glynn and Danielle MacLean, the creative team brings such credentials as Redfern Now, Sweet Country and Mystery Road. 

True Colours is an SBS and NITV collaboration featuring English and Central and Western Arrernte languages. The breathtaking Yeperenye (East Macdonnell Ranges), 300km east of Mparntwe (Alice Springs), is the setting of the series’ fictional township.

Featuring a strong ensemble cast and many first-time actors from Australia’s Central and Eastern Desert, True Colours premiered during NAIDOC Week on SBS and NITV and is now streaming at SBS On Demand.

Here’s who’s who.

Toni Alma (Rarriwuy Hick) – Lead Detective

Born in the small community of Perdar Theendar (pronounced Per-dar Theen-dar), meaning Solid Rock, 300km east of Alice Springs, Toni moved to Adelaide with her white father Scott when her parents separated. Her visits to Aboriginal mother Vivienne and brother Brendan became less frequent as she grew up. Now living in Alice Springs, Toni’s work takes her back to her birthplace, forcing her to reconnect with family and culture, ready or not.

Toni must navigate two sets of laws in the investigation, one that prevents her culturally from entering the site of the accident, and another that makes her presence there essential if she’s to solve the case. Her ex-boyfriend and detective Nick arrives to assist, and she’s also working with her police officer uncle Samuel, who seems to know more than he’s willing to share.

Sydney-born actor Rarriwuy Hick has appeared on stage and in film and television, including in Redfern Now, Cleverman, Black Comedy, The Gods of Wheat Street and as Ruby Mitchell in Wentworth. Of playing Toni Alma, Hick says, “there’s something special about playing… a woman who is trying to work out who she is and what she wants, she is equally drawn to her family and culture as she is confronted by it.” Hick, who grew up in North East Arnhem Land and speaks Yolngu Matha, learned Central Arrernte for this role.


Watch the preview now:


Nick Gawler (Luke Arnold) – Detective

Nick is a whitefella who’s moved to Central Australia to work in Aboriginal communities. Toni broke off their relationship soon before he was assigned to investigate Mariah’s car accident alongside her. He already knows many people in Perdar Theendar and hopes to help figure out what happened, as well as spend time with Toni.

Working across stage, film and TV, Luke Arnold has appeared in Glitch, Preppers, RUSH and Panic at Rock Island and won a Logie for his portrayal of Michael Hutchence in Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS. Arnold’s film credits include Deadman Standing, Why Choose Not to Love, Half Magic and Broken Hill. The talented actor is also a novelist, with his third book due for release this year.


Samuel Alma (Warren H. Williams) – Aboriginal Community Police Officer

As the community’s police officer, Samuel, Toni’s maternal uncle, bridges the complex gap between cultural and Western laws with quiet intelligence, if not always strictly by the book. Technically Toni’s subordinate in this investigation, he is wise enough to never let on to his niece that she’s anything but in full control. Privy to men’s business, Samuel knows more than he’s letting on, and Toni’s knows it.

A Western Arrernte man from Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Warren H. Williams co-created True Colours with writer/director Erica Glynn. Williams is also a country music star with 10 studio albums to his name, and an ARIA nomination for Raining on the Rock, a collaboration with John Williamson. Central Australian viewers will also know Williams from his broadcasting on CAAMA Radio.


Brendan Alma (Kurt Abbott) – Toni’s brother

When their parents separated, Brendan stayed in Perdar Theendar with his mother Viv and missed his sister greatly. Brendan was a loveable, fun-loving kid who other kids adored. Now, he drinks too much and his peers ridicule him. He’s not sure how to get his life back on track, and has plenty of things he’d prefer to keep hidden from his detective sister.

Born in Katherine, Kurt Abbott works as a boarding house parent in Alice Springs’ Yirara College and plays AFL for the Rovers. This is Kurt’s first television role. He appeared in Viviana Petyarre’s short film Shiny One

SBS & NITV's new crime drama 'True Colours' is a murder mystery like no other
A powerful collaboration between NITV and SBS, 'True Colours' is a mystery that twists and turns between two laws to find a killer very close to home.


Isabelle Martin (Miranda Otto) – Art Dealer

Isabelle visits Perdar Theendar each year and takes the internationally acclaimed local artists’ work to the world, plus a hefty cut of the proceeds for herself. Isabelle is in town to curate her latest exhibition, ‘Love Magic’, bound for a Paris gallery. Genuinely interested in Arrernte culture and language, Isabelle has been adopted into the skin system, and is close with the artists, including Viv, Toni’s mum.

In her decades-long career, AACTA, Logie and SAG award-winner Miranda Otto has appeared in TV series including Homeland, 24: Legacy and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and films including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, DownhillWhat Lies Beneath and The Daughter. Otto was most recently seen in acclaimed ABC series, Fires and SBS series, The Unusual Suspects.


Vivienne Alma (Sabella Kngwarraye Ross Turner) – Toni and Brendan’s mum

A loving mother, Viv welcomes Toni home with open arms. Viv is heavily involved in the community, conducting night patrols and taking a lead role in the art centre. She believes art can forge better understanding in the wider community, and keep stories and culture alive. She supports Isabelle’s visits to the community and they’ve forged a strong friendship.

Sabella Kngwarraye Ross Turner is a senior Arrernte elder in Alice Springs. Sabella is Lead Cultural Advisor in Central Australia’s Aboriginal Medical Service and a founding member of the Grandmothers Group, who support ‘Kids on country, not in custody’. This is Sabella’s first acting role in a television show. 


Bull (Erroll Shand) – Mariah’s father

Bull, a whitefella and Mariah’s father, runs a backpacker accommodation and has a dubious side hustle. He taught his daughter, who he raised after Mariah’s Aboriginal mother died, the importance of making money, but he comes to regret the full extent of what she’s learnt from observing him.

Character-driven actor Erroll Shand’s TV credits include Harry, Underbelly, Mystery Road and Rake. In films, Shand had a lead role in Oscar-nominated Brazilian feature film Little Secret and shone in Highroad, alongside Emma Thompson. He also appears in Justice of Bunny King, The Bear and in 2021 starred in Butterfly, Whina and Blind Panic.  


Karl aka Gingerbread Man (Ben Oxenbould) – Government Business Manager

Perdar Theendar’s GBM uses his Federal Government administrative role to his full advantage, financially, and to actively avoid work. His focus is on paying off his house down south and lording his position over the community.

Ben Oxenbould began his career as a brash 10-year-old in Fatty Finn. As an adult, he’s appeared in films including The Crossing and Black Water and TV series including The Kettering Incident, Deep Water, Mystery Road and season 2 of Wolf Creek and Mr Inbetween.

A powerful collaboration with SBS and NITV,  ground-breaking 4-part crime drama series True Colours is a murder mystery like no other. For more about True Colours, head to the program page. The series is streaming now at SBS On Demand.

The law in language: Rarriwuy Hick's groundbreaking TV role
Despite over a decade in the entertainment industry, 'True Colours' is a career first for Yolngu woman Rarriwuy Hick who plays bilingual Arrernte detective Toni Alma.

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