This miniseries follows the 1915 Gallipoli campaign as witnessed by journalists: Australians Charles Bean, Phillip Schuler and later Keith Murdoch, as well as Englishman Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett. Episode 1 establishes Australia’s first involvement from the soldiers’ larrikinish encampment in Cairo to the initial, shocking landing at Anzac Cove. Starkly different personas, Schuler and Bean are united in their determination to report from amongst Australian soldiers, witnessing the war directly. Interwoven amongst the Australian storylines is Ashmead-Bartlett — superior, opportunistic — at home with the upper crust British milieu but whose forthrightness has him ‘assigned to the Colonials’.
Jacquelin Perske’s screenplay is crisp yet sensitive in its depiction of the various worlds, giving us vivid mental images and creative yet realistic insights into events of the First World War. Highly visual and engaging, the writing is descriptive and evocative. Real life historical characters are distinctly drawn and the atmosphere, as well as the era, is exquisitely captured. Carrying the added responsibility of the set-up episode, the plot strands are skilfully structured with necessary exposition expertly conveyed through intriguing characters, snappy dialogue and compelling action. The final sequence establishes a chilling prophecy of the unrelenting violence to come.