Underbelly back to Sydney

EXCLUSIVE: TV Tonight hears talk of a period piece for Underbelly in 2011 will utimately prove true.

But it won’t be Squizzy Taylor set in Melbourne.

It will be the 1920s Razor Gangs in Sydney.

In 1927 pistol licensing laws saw crooks arming themselves with razors.

There were two major razor gangs in Darlinghurst / Kings Cross in 1929, led by queens of the underworld, brothel owners Kate Leigh and Tilly Devine. They were flamboyant characters in furs, hats and diamond rings who both tried to outdo each other to see who was the showiest.

Their feud culminated in a riot known as the Battle of Kellett Street on August 9, 1929, one of the most violent riots Sydney had ever seen.

The two gangs fought for an hour with razors and guns, leaving many hospitalised with bullet wounds and slashes that required multiple stitches. By 1930, the NSW government pushed through tough new laws that rang the death knell for the razor gangs.

There are rumours a huge intersection is being constructed for the key riot scenes.

Nine also has three Melbourne-made Underbelly telemovies to air in 2011.

Seven is also looking to the past with 1850s drama, Wild Boys on its slate.


  1. this would be awesome! there is a great band from Sydney called The Rumjacks whose album is called ‘Gangs Of New Holland’ which is all about the razor gangs of Surry Hills and they even have a track that name checks Kate Leigh and Tilly Devine!! hopefully the producers will put their song on the show!

  2. Political corruption doesn’t offer enough titillation for Underbelly. You’d need
    murders, sex and drugs for Underbelly to want to attract viewers. The Whiskey a Go Go incident and Fine Cotton horse scandal in Brisbane, had nothing to do with the Fitzgerald enquiry. The former happened over a decade earlier. The Fitzgerald enquiry was too chicken to even tackle looking at drugs. I’d do a series on money launderer Frank Nugan, which would be very interesting, as it’s connected with Donald McKay.

  3. @ George Glass,
    I think Sydney people would watch an Underbelly about Qld. The 1st series was about Melbourne’s Underbelly & it rated through the roof in Sydney.

  4. Yeah Woody I live to see the award ceremony for best drama where all you see of the Underbelly clips is various shots of gratitious naked tities, because that is what the show has become.

  5. The thing is there is probably a lot that could go into a Brisbane show. The rise of Joh, Battle of Police Commissioner Whitrod, Rise of Police Commissioner Terry Lewis, The Bag Men, the other politicians, not to mention Whisky a go go bombing and trials as a sort of curtain raiser for the era with fitzgerald enquiry and joh trial (which itself has been turned into a tele movie) as the book end for the show. There were heaps of colourful identities running illegal casinos, sly grog, strip clubs and brothels in the valley. Not to mention throw in Fine Cotton/Bold Personality Race Affair – which would be an hour of tv by itself. The anti -aparthide demonstrations – the anti joh demonstrations – come on theres heaps that good writers could turn into tv show. But i am guessing that it will never happen cause underbelly is a sydney centric show – and nine will never green light a program that sydney people would not watch.

  6. It’s such a shame that none of the proposed films based on Tilly and Kate have ever got off the ground. This is an amazing Australian story, but I’m afraid I don’t trust the Underbelly crew to do much of a job telling the tale after the last two woeful series.

  7. the next after this. should based in brisbane. there has been plenty corruption up here in every rank. from pollies to police. sir joe and his corrupt ways would be a good story

  8. This would be ok for a TV movie, but as 13 episodes, good luck to Nine in terms of trying to get people to watch. In addition to being more expensive to film, with costumes and exteriors, most viewers won’t care. There’s only enough in the Qld Fitzgerald inquiry, for a TV movie.

  9. I guess that means that the Brisbane underbelly is never going to happen. Though why they think anyone would be interested in watching a bunch of thugs from 20s sydney duking it out is a bit of a mystery. Hope this is not another jump the shark moment.

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