Tony Ayres. 

The impact of the devastating bushfires of last summer will be explored in six-part drama The Fires, currently in development at the ABC.

The Tony Ayres Productions (TAP) series is planned as a serialised anthology, inspired by the stories of the people who survived the catastrophe and continue to endure its aftermath.

Each episode will be based around character studies of ordinary people caught in the unimaginable and the impossible choices they were forced to make. These will include volunteer firefighters; families who lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones; people who had to make agonising decisions about whether to stay or flee; and others who found themselves responsible for the lives of friends and strangers.

Working with Ayres in the creative team is TAP head of development Andrea Denholm and Liz Watts. The writing team is led by Belinda Chayko, working with Jacquelin Perske, Mirrah Foulkes, Steven McGregor and Anya Beyersdorf.

ABC head of drama, entertainment and Indigenous Sally Riley said: “The ABC is delighted to be partnering with Tony Ayres and the team at TAP to bring these true stories to life. Even though the challenges and tests of endurance continue, this is an opportunity to celebrate and to remind ourselves of the strength, bravery and communal spirit that will carry us through, no matter what we face. The joy lies in our drive to give voice to the brave and fearless people whose lives and livelihoods have been irrevocably changed by this catastrophic event.”

Ayres said: “Like the rest of the world, I watched in horror last summer as I saw the devastation caused by the mega-fires. I wondered, “What can we do as artists?” For me, the answer was to tell the stories of some of the people who lived through this, so that we never forget what they went through, and always remember our responsibility for change.”

TAP is backed by Matchbox Pictures and NBCUniversal International Studios. Filming is planned for next year.