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BBC snaps up Aussie crime drama Scrublands, orders Brian May badger doc

Luke Arnold as Martin Scarsden in Australian crime drama Scrublands

UK pubcaster the BBC has acquired Australian crime drama Scrublands, based on the novel written by Chris Hammer, and ordered a documentary fronted by Queen lead guitarist and animal rights activist Brian May.

Scrublands (4×50′) was produced by Sydney-based prodco Easy Tiger (Jack Irish) for original commissioners Stan Australia and the Nine Network.

It was picked up by the BBC from Abacus Media Rights, which holds international distribution rights.

Set to be screened on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer, Scrublands stars Luke Arnold (Black Sails) as journalist Martin Scarsden who is dispatched to an isolated country town to write about the anniversary of a gun massacre and who finds himself in a life-or-death race to uncover the true story behind the tragedy.

Sue Deeks, head of BBC programme acquisition, said: “With its enigmatic central protagonist and atmospheric depiction of rural Australia, the compelling and complex narrative of Scrublands will keep BBC viewers guessing until the very end.”

In related news, BBC Cymru Wales has ordered Brian May: The Badger Cull and Me (1×60′), produced by Athena Films (Meet the Hedgehogs).

It sees May continue his campaign to stop badgers being killed by UK farmers as he believes that badgers are not responsible for the spread of the bovine TB disease. The rock star takes his case to a sceptical farming community as he attempts to convince them to back his conservation plans.

Julian Carey, BBC Wales commissioning editor, said: “This is a programme produced over four years telling the complex story behind the headlines – where farmers have been left ruined by bovine TB and yet there is still so much debate over how to combat it effectively.

“Brian has been a standard bearer for the animal rights movement and this film sees him trying to bring both sides of the debate together to find the best solution for the animals and the farmers.”

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