Anna Torv joins Canberra thriller, Secret City.

Anna Torv, Damon Herriman and Dan Wyllie to feature in new political thriller, coming to Showcase next March.


Fringe star Anna Torv is one of three cast members announced for Foxtel’s new political thriller, Secret City.

Based on the novels, “The Marmalade Files” and “The Mandarin Code” by Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis, the cast also includes Damon Herriman and Dan Wyllie.

The six part miniseries, to begin filming in Canberra in August, is described as a high stakes political thriller set in a world of secrets, lies, murder and betrayal and will air on Showcase next March.

Beneath the placid facade of Canberra, amidst rising tension between China and America, senior political journalist Harriet Dunkley (Torv) uncovers a secret city of interlocked conspiracies, putting innocent lives in danger – including her own.

Foxtel Executive Director of Television Brian Walsh said: “This new event mini-series is further commitment by Foxtel to explore bold and interesting ideas for the screen and commission unique Australian storytelling to complement the best of the international series which are on offer to our subscribers.

Secret City is a high octane political thriller which introduces a new genre to our local drama portfolio and continues Foxtel’s successful relationship with Matchbox Pictures, which has recently seen both Deadline Gallipoli warmly received and the Devil’s Playground mini-series acknowledged with AACTA and TV Week Logie Awards wins. We keep looking for inspiring and intelligent scripts and we think we’ve found one again with Secret City.”

Matchbox Pictures’ Penny Chapman said: “We were excited at the opportunity to base a thriller on Steve and Chris’ books and they have been generous collaborators. We have all along wanted this to be a thriller that goes to the heart of Australia’s relations with the US and China and how that might impact on our domestic world. A challenge for us is that almost every time we come up with what we feel is a bold fictional story, real events seem to steal it!”

Last August the project was confirmed with writers Belinda Chayko, Matt Cameron, Marieke Hardy, Alice Addison, Tommy Murphy, Kris Mrksa and Greg Waters, and producer Joanna Werner (Dance Academy).

Foxtel also confirmed a new season of A Place to Call Home will launch on SoHo in September with The Kettering Incident to follow on Showcase.

13 Responses

  1. Like others I saw who’s on the creative team and thought “oh well”. In case there’s any chance of saving this, here’s a free tip to those involved with this project: watch The Code; don’t do that. Let’s not even mention Hiding – ugh, I have to go wash my fingertips now.

  2. Is this what the future looks like? And are we ok with it? Foreign owned production companies producing Australian content, majority funded with quotas and subsidy, round-robinning a distribution guarantee ( which they recover from the budget as Executive Producer fees and overheads) to trigger Screen Australia, casting Australian actors who already have a profile in the US or the UK. It’s Australian drama – but it’s more complicated than it looks. Is it a brilliant Australian originated story that demands to be told or a clever confection that is working the system? Probably both.

      1. The battle is indeed lost – a significant majority of domestic drama is now being produced by foreign owned companies. However, these companies should not be eligible to apply to Screen Australia. This rule was sneakily, controversially and disgracefully changed without industry consultation about 3-4 years ago. That said, if the Producer offset for television was increased to 40% – a rebate for QAPE – Qualifying Australian Expenditure, all these productions would proceed without the need to compete for SA’s limited funds. Local producers cannot compete with the might of these billion-dollar media behemoths – and it’s becoming painfully clear. I would argue the key role for Screen Australia is to support local producers to ensure there is diversity in supply at the grassroots level. This is also where the ABC has such a vital role to play.

  3. Great cast, and based on excellent source material, but then I saw the script writing team and started to worry. Hopefully Uhllman and Lewis can keep that bloated writing team/collective as far away from this project as possible, otherwise I can see this being another fail.

  4. Isn’t a political thriller an oxymoron? 🙂

    But seriously, the list of writers confirms my theory that all Australian TV is written and directed by the same dozen people, which possibly explains why it feels so “samey.”

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