Devil’s Playground, the Foxtel miniseries that deals with the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the 1980s, “won’t pull any punches,” according to producer Helen Bowden.
Now shooting in Sydney, the six-part series stars Simon Burke as Tom Allen, a psychiatrist who is hired as a confessor to the clergy and gets embroiled in political and theological intrigue.
Burke played Allen as a 13-year-old schoolboy in Fred Schepisi’s 1976 drama The Devil’s Playground. The stellar cast includes Don Hany and John Noble as Bishops, Jack Thompson as the Archbishop, Toni Collette as a State Labor MP who campaigns for social justice, Andrew McFarlane as a priest and Max Cullen as a retired priest.
The screenplay by Blake Ayshford, Cate Shortland, Alice Addison and Tommy Murphy is “complete fiction but drawn from events that happened,” Bowden told IF.
Funded by Screen Australia and Screen NSW and produced by Matchbox Pictures, the series is being directed by Rachel Ward (The Straits, Beautiful Kate) and Tony Krawitz (Dead Europe). The producers are Bowden, Penny Chapman and Ayshford.
Burke, who also serves as an executive producer, said, “It’s a total dream to have the opportunity to revisit a character from such an iconic film and kind of go back to where I started. It’s a full circle story.”
The producers sent Schepisi the scripts and he gave his blessing, Bowden said. The series will air on showcase. International rights are being handled by NBC Universal, which owns a majority stake in Matchbox.