The Circuit AFI nominations
October 27, 2010

Congratulations to The Circuit, which has received two 2010 nominations in the 2010 Samsung AFI Awards - Best Television Drama Series (Ross Hutchens, Colin South) and Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Aaron Pedersen). The Awards Ceremony takes place on December 11 at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne.

Series 1

Drew Ellis has taken a sabbatical from his beautiful wife and comfortable legal career to go bush.

Carrying the professional arrogance that middle class advantage buys, Drew ventures from the cloistered legal circles of the city of Perth to do a stint in the outback – a worthy addition to the CV of a lawyer seeking higher office.

Drew is charming, confident, capable, and now completely out of his depth. He finds himself in the chaotic and challenging world of the Kimberley Circuit Court that takes a magistrate and an entourage of court officers and lawyers on a regular, five-day 2000 kilometre round-trip to dispense justice to the hot, dusty and remote communities of North Western Australia.

This is no easy trip, but the expectations on Drew are high, for despite his white upbringing and fine white wife, Drew Ellis is black.

As a city slicker he can be excused for not knowing about cattle duffing, street drinking and payback, but what does he know about his own Aboriginal heritage and the culture of his Aboriginal clients? Not that there’s any shortage of people to point this out to him. Isn’t the prickly Sam meant to be his assistant, not his enemy? And what’s the story with the patronising Magistrate? At least he can find solace in his burgeoning friendship with Bella, the fiery Clerk of Courts.

It’s a steep learning curve for Drew. Yet to earn the trust of either the black or white communities, he quickly comes to realise that one law for two cultures does not always equal a fair go.
More importantly, Drew begins to learn about himself, and with the begrudging help of Sam, he begins a journey of self-discovery, allowing him to finally acknowledge his heritage and the family he never knew. But at what cost? The physical distance from his wife contrasts with Drew’s developing closeness toward Bella, and the comfort he begins to find in his new surroundings.

At the end of this sweaty, dusty journey into the absurdity, poignancy and banality of Australian outback justice called The Circuit, Drew Ellis must make a choice – a choice that will affect the rest of his life.

Series 2

The series again stars Aaron Pedersen and Kelton Pell, with Gary Sweet as The Magistrate. Support cast includes Tammy Clarkson, Marta Kaczmarek, Nick Simpson-Deeks, and Bill McCluskey, with Special Guest Stars Tom E. Lewis,Kris McQuade, and David Ngoombujarra.City lawyer Drew Ellis’ move bush to tackle the legal system of the remote Kimberley has helped him turn from coconut to confident black man. But his new sense of belonging comes at a cost, and fitting into his Aboriginal family is not going to be an easy task. Clerk of Courts, Bella Noble, suffers a personal tragedy, and Drew helps her back from a dark place, as their friendship turns into something more.

Meanwhile, Peter Lockhart’s tenure as Magistrate is threatened, and Sam Wallan is forced to put to rest the demons of his past before he can finally save his family. Facing new cases, new dilemmas, it’s a sweaty, dusty journey for the traveling Circuit team, struggling for justice in a world where one law for two cultures doesn’t equal a fair go.

About the show

Following on from the award winning first series, The Circuit returns as a final six part event mini-series for SBS Television. Created for Television by Ross Hutchens & Kelly Lefever, the series was produced by Media World Pictures’Ross Hutchens & Colin South from scripts by Kelly Lefever, Dot West, Mitch Torres, and Wayne Blair. Episodes were directed by Steve Jodrell, James Bogle,and Aaron Pedersen, and the SBS Commissioning Editor was Sue Masters.

The series again stars Aaron Pedersen and Kelton Pell, with Gary Sweet as The Magistrate. Support cast includes Tammy Clarkson, Marta Kaczmarek, Nick Simpson-Deeks, and Bill McCluskey, with Special Guest Stars Tom E. Lewis,Kris McQuade, and David Ngoombujarra.

The world

The Circuit is set in the Kimberley region of North Western Australia. It is a place of two seasons; the wet and the dry. Known for its beauty and hardship, it is a place where people try to integrate and get along, with varying degrees of success. The Kimberley region is a land rich in history for its traditional owners,
but now sits within the confines of white ownership and white law.

This is the home of The Circuit, the Magistrate’s Court that visits far-flung communities several days a month, bringing conveyor-belt justice dealt swiftly and fairly – although that’s not always the case. Working between two worlds and juggling white law with traditional lore, means that justice is sometimes a slippery beast.

Throughout the series, a variety of cases come before the Circuit, some tragic,some amusing, yet all shed light on the very different world that is the far north of Western Australia.

The audience takes this journey with The Circuit’s central characters; Drew, the Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) lawyer still searching for his “Aboriginality”; Sam, the bush-wise ALS court officer who has the weight of an entire community on his shoulders as he tries to make up for neglecting his own family; and Peter, the Magistrate, who prides himself on his ability to do the best by all people who stand before him, but is now making enemies on both sides of the race divide.

The Circuit’s strong group of supporting characters are back: the fiery Bella, Clerk of Courts; hippie dropout, Polish expat and Legal Aid Lawyer, Ellie Zdybicka; and journalist, Archie McMahon. In this series, they are joined by the hard-line replacement Magistrate, Terri Oliver; and Drew’s recently discovered uncle/father, Mick Mathers.

Throughout the series the rich and complicated characters of The Circuit travel thousands of kilometres every week to find heartbreak, laughter and a world that is unknown to most of Australia and the world.

SBS Shop

The Circuit, Series 2 (DVD)

The Circuit, Series 2 (DVD)

It’s a sweaty, dusty journey for city lawyer, Drew Ellis, and the travelling Circuit team as they face new cases and new dilemmas.

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The Circuit, Series 1 (DVD)

The Circuit, Series 1 (DVD)

Drew Ellis joins the challenging world of the Kimberley Circuit Court. One law for two cultures doesn't equal a fair go.

Buy Now