The Australian Wars – landmark series sells to the BBC

The award-winning documentary series, presented and directed by Rachel Perkins, has sold to numerous territories overseas.

ABC Commercial has announced the sale of the series The Australian Wars to the UK’s public broadcaster, to be shown on on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer from this week.

The Australian Wars (international title: First Wars), says the broadcaster, ‘delivers a compelling awakening to the wars fought within Australia that have for too long been at the centre of a great national silence. Over three parts this ground-breaking documentary uncovers the story of the bloody battles fought on Australian soil, as the colonial frontier pushed forward, and First Nations people resisted.

‘This is the longest and perhaps most defining war that established the Australian nation. Award-winning filmmaker Rachel Perkins gives voice to the story of the First Wars – and in the telling, changes the narrative of the nation.’

​Commissioned by SBS Australia, produced by Australia’s Blackfella Films and distributed worldwide by ABC Commercial, The Australian Wars has sold widely to networks in Canada, New Zealand, Asia and Australia.

​The series is presented and directed by Rachel Perkins, co-produced by Darren Dale and Rachel Perkins, and co-scripted by Rachel Perkins, Jacob Hickey and Don Watson.

​In the lead-up to the international industry sales event MIPCOM, the series had garnered a host of awards including Most Outstanding Documentary Program at the 2023 Logie Awards, Best Documentary/Factual Series at the 2023 Australian International Documentary Conference Awards, Gold (History & Society) at the 2023 New York Festival Awards, and the Digital History Prize at the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards.

​Recently, The Australian Wars also received multiple nominations (for Best Documentary Series and Best Representation & Inclusion – Unscripted) at the Content Innovation Awards 2023. Announced at the ceremony at MIPCOM 2023, The Australian Wars went on to win in the latter category.

​Filmmakers Darren Dale and Rachel Perkins said: ‘The Australian Wars (First Wars) is Britain’s history as much as it is Australia’s – for it is the colonisation of Australia, by the British, that ignited a war for supremacy with First Nations people that raged across the continent for over 100 years and shaped, irrevocably, the nation borne by that conflict. We are so proud that the BBC will now bring this previously untold story, of a British colony that became Australia, to a British audience.’

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites