Production will begin in Sydney next month on The Messenger, an 8 x 60-minute uplifting drama series based on Markus Zusak’s best-selling novel of the same name. Produced by Lingo Pictures for the ABC with major production investment from Screen Australia, the series reinforces ABC’s commitment as the home of quality Australian drama that is reflective of contemporary Australia.
Featuring a cast of emerging Australian talent who are backed by an award-winning creative team, the series will star Helpmann Award winner William McKenna (Nowhere Boys), alongside Australian icon Maggie Dence (Rake, Wonderland), Alexandra Jensen (Frayed, Amazing Grace), Chris Alosio (Troppo) and actor, singer and songwriter Kartanya Maynard (Deadloch).
The Lingo Pictures’ production reunites the AACTA award-winning creative team behind the series Lambs of God, with the writing team lead by Sarah Lambert (Lambs of God, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart) and producers Jason Stephens (Lambs Of God, Upright) from Lingo Pictures and Elisa Argenzio (Fires, New Gold Mountain, Lambs Of God). Helen Bowden, Markus Zusak, Mika Zusak, Sarah Lambert and Daniel Nettheim are Executive Producers, along with Sally Riley and Rebecca Anderson from ABC.
Sarah Lambert is joined on the writing team by Kirsty Fisher (The Family Law, The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart, Laid), Kim Wilson (Total Control, Wentworth) and Magda Wozniak (Bad Behaviour, Mustangs FC).
Daniel Nettheim (The Tourist, Line of Duty, Doctor Who) is set-up director and Helena Brooks (Wellmania, 800 Words) and Jennifer Leacey (The Secrets She Keeps, Frayed) will also direct.
The series follows Ed Kennedy who is just another stupid human, until one day he isn’t. That day, he stops an armed robbery and becomes an accidental hero. The next day, he starts getting messages… Four playing cards – the ace of diamonds, clubs, spades and hearts. Each with their own set of tasks. Who’s sending them? And what the hell is a hopeless, cab-driving, guy like Ed meant to do with them? Ed has been chosen to care. He stumbles this mysterious path, helping and hurting, completing the cards, until he comes to see the real message has been for him. Being The Messenger has brought Ed back to life.
ABC Head of Drama, Entertainment and Indigenous Sally Riley says: “We are thrilled to be collaborating for the first time with the incredibly talented team at Lingo Pictures on this feel-good and intriguing series. Highlighting the importance and impact of human kindness, we look forward to sharing this captivating series with our audience next year.”
“This story is a tale of untapped potential that reminds us we are each in our own way remarkable. It’s about friendship and trying and falling down. It’s about unrequited love, bravery and getting back up. It’s about family and chosen family, but most of all it’s about the way small acts of kindness have huge ripples. The Messenger allows us to step into a world where human kindness and connection are the heroes,” says producer Jason Stephens.
Screen Australia’s Head of Content Grainne Brunsdon says, “We’re delighted to support this enchanting story from prolific Australian writer Markus Zusak brought to life on screen by the award-winning team at Lingo Pictures together with some of Australia’s best screenwriters. The Messenger promises to enthral audiences young and old with its poignant and redemptive tale of what it is to be human.”
“Screen NSW is proud to support Lingo Pictures as it brings to life the internationally best-selling book The Messenger by Sydney author Markus Zusak. Led with a strong cast and crew including a great writing team spearheaded by Sarah Lambert, who is teaming up with producers Jason Stephens and Elisa Argenzio, the eight-part series will call NSW home and showcase locations in Sydney and Lithgow to a wide audience,” says Acting Head of Screen NSW David Gordon.
The Messenger will air on ABC TV and ABC iview in 2023.