Musician, comedian, writer and actor Tim Minchin will lead the cast of Lingo Pictures’ eight-part series Upright, a co-commission between Foxtel and Sky UK which will shoot in SA and WA in October.
Created by The Chaser’s Chris Taylor, Upright is the story of two misfits who thrown together by chance in the middle of the desert and form a bond in their quest to get a piano from one side of Australia to the other.
Michin will play the “broke, distant and damaged” Lucky Flynn, a gifted pianist whose talent for music is matched only by his talent for self-destruction. He hasn’t talked to his family in years but when he learns that his mother has only days left to live, he sets off in a hire car to drive the 4000 kilometres from Sydney to Perth to say goodbye to her, taking with him his only cherished possession in the world – a battered and scarred upright piano.
But what should have been a straightforward drive across the Nullarbor soon becomes a test of Lucky’s emotional fitness, when he (literally) runs into Meg (Milly Alcock), a hilarious, tough-as-nails teenager.
Taylor and Minchin are writing the series with Kate Mulvany (Fighting Season, Jasper Jones stage play) and Leon Ford (Offspring, No Activity), while Matthew Saville will direct (Please Like Me). Minchin will also write the music.
The producers are Jason Stephens, Taylor and Melissa Kelly, and the EPs are Minchin, Foxtel’s head of drama Penny Win and Lingo’s Helen Bowden.
Minchin said: “From the moment I heard about the idea for Upright, I knew it was the show I’d been waiting to make. I like stories that make me laugh and think and cry, I adore the landscapes of outback Australia, and I love music, and homecomings, and characters full of flaws. It’s awesome to be writing with this extraordinary team, and I’m looking forward to acting alongside Milly Alcock, who I think is a really special talent.”
This is the second production that Lingo Pictures is currently working on for Foxtel, having recently shot Lambs of God, which stars Ann Dowd, Essie Davis, Sam Reid and Jessica Barden and is based on the novel by Marele Day.
Stephens said: “There are not many shows I’ve enjoyed developing as much as Upright. It’s been a joy having Tim back home and working with our talented team of writers scripting this beautiful and funny show. Matt Saville’s direction always delivers something special so I can’t wait to start shooting and bringing this story to the Foxtel and Sky audiences.”
Major production investment in Upright has come from Foxtel and Screen Australia in association with the South Australian Film Corporation. Create NSW and Screenwest are also investors.
Screen Australia head of production Sally Caplan said: “Foxtel have proven their commitment to the production of premium Australian drama with Wentworth, The Kettering Incident and most recently the iconic Picnic at Hanging Rock which has had fantastic success locally and with international sales.
“Upright is a project that will also appeal in Australia and to the international market, with the hugely talented Tim Minchin on board to produce and star in the series. What attracted us to this series was the well-crafted young female protagonist, and work of the strong writing team including accomplished writer Kate Mulvany, and comedic writers Leon Ford and Chris Taylor. I have no doubt this moving and quirky comedy will resonate with audiences.”
eOne is handling international sales.