Ten Pound Poms is the new original drama series created by BAFTA-winning Danny Brocklehurst (Brassic, Ordinary Lies) produced by Eleven, the team behind the award-winning Sex Education.
A co-production between BBC and Stan, the series will premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK and as a Stan Original Series in Australia.
The six-part series follows a group of Brits as they leave dreary post-war Britain in 1956 to embark on a life-altering adventure on the other side of the world. For only a tenner, they have been promised a better house, better job prospects and a better quality of life by the sea in sun-soaked Australia. But life down under isn’t exactly the idyllic dream the new arrivals have been promised. Struggling with their new identity as immigrants, we follow their triumphs and pitfalls as they adapt to a new life in a new country far from Britain and familiarity.
At the heart of the drama are Annie (Faye Marsay) and Terry Roberts (Warren Brown). They try to make the best of the situation for their family, but the poor living conditions at the hostel and local attitudes towards immigrants test them in ways they couldn’t have imagined. They aren’t the only people at the hostel avoiding the truth. Kate (Michelle Keegan) is a young nurse who arrives without her fiancé and will do whatever it takes to try and rewrite her devastating past. Bill (Leon Ford) has lost his family business back home and is so desperate to prove he’s living the Australian dream that he’ll stop at nothing in order to get a lifestyle he can’t sustain. Teenager Stevie (Declan Coyle) comes from a troubled background and hopes to use this new adventure to escape his oppressive father. Meanwhile Ron (Rob Collins), an indigenous Australian war veteran, struggles with feeling like an outsider in his own country.
Who do you play?
My character Kate is a nurse who has left the UK to go to Australia for a very different reason from the rest of the characters. She has an emotional connection to the country and we find out as the show progresses what her intentions are and why she has gone there.
What was it like filming in Australia?
I absolutely loved filming in Australia. I mean, when I first got there the weather wasn’t great, I’m not going to lie, but as a country I really enjoyed it. In fact, in a way my journey to Australia has parallels with Kate’s. It was my first time too and I didn’t know what to expect, I came on my own which was quite scary, but it’s been such an incredible experience.
This isn’t the first time you’ve worked with writer Danny Brocklehurst?
I worked with Danny for a long time – most recently on Brassic which is now on its 5th season and I went back to filming it immediately after Ten Pound Poms. I also worked with him about six years ago on a show called Ordinary Lies and I love his work. I think his scripts are really raw and gritty, but also show a lot of heart – a lot of people can relate to them.
How did you find playing Kate and being in a period drama for the first time?
Kate’s storyline is definitely very emotionally led. You see her go through a lot of turmoil in Ten Pound Poms. It’s been really challenging for me, and I’ve loved every minute. Obviously the series is set in the fifties, so it’s a totally different era and it’s the first time I’ve appeared in a period drama, but it’s something I have always wanted to do.
Tell us about working with Faye Marsay?
I hadn’t met Faye before. I remember her coming into the read-through in Australia to sit next to me. I’d got there a few days before her – and we instantly just clicked. I knew she was going to be my mate and honestly, I’ve loved working with her. She’s so, so talented and we get on because I think we’re quite similar. So I feel really lucky to have worked with her.
What about Warren Brown?
As for ‘Wazza’ Brown, I’ve known him for years. I first met him when I was about nineteen. We’re both from Manchester and actors, so we’d often bump into each other at events and know lots of similar people, but we’ve never actually got to work with each other until now. He is really talented and I just wish I had more scenes with him. Kate’s storyline is very isolated compared to Faye and Warren’s who play a married couple whilst I only have a few scenes with them.
You were the only three British actors on set – what was it like working with the Australian cast?
Going out to Australia to work with the likes of Steve, Emma and Hugo has been fantastic. The Australian actors are so brilliant and they bring a different energy to the set. The thing I miss most about Australia is the people. I know it’s such a clichéd thing to say, but everyone out there is so lovely, friendly and welcoming. The crew really got on and it was such a nice working environment – and of course I miss the cast.
And Jamie, the director of block one?
I’d also worked before with Jamie, the director who did the first block. He’s so visually creative and ten steps ahead of everyone else – his brain must work at a thousand miles per hour! He’s so talented.
What do you hope viewers will take away from the series?
Ten Pound Poms will definitely take the audience on a journey. I think for me and for the viewers, the script is like a history lesson. I didn’t know a lot about the Ten Pound Poms before being part of this project but I did a lot of research into it. Now I’ve talked to lots of people who say: “Yeah, my grandmother was a Ten Pound Pom and I have family in Australia” and that all stemmed from what happened in the 1950s.