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‘Ladies in Black’ takes us back to a different time in Australia

Author Madeline St John’s first novel The Women in Black came out in 1993 and was adapted first into a stage musical in 2015, and then a dramatic feature film in 2017.

Just eight years after director Bruce Berisford brought the story of a group of women who work behind the counters in a busy department story to the screen, a new version is coming to television, and it boasts an impressive international cast.

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This new take on the story brings the action forward into the early 1960’s rather than the late 50’s that the book and previous screen adaptation were set in.

Debi Mazar, who appeared in Younger, Entourage, L.A. Law, and quite a few of best friend Madonna’s videos, plays Magda who is on the precipice of leaving the department store to open her own boutique.

Miranda Otto (Homeland, The Lord of the Rings) is Mrs Ambrose, newly arrived from Harrods in London and is determined to save the store from adventurous designers and working women. She’s taking over the senior position from Magda.

Meanwhile Jessica de Gouw (Arrow, Dracula, Deadline Gallipoli) is newlywed Fay. She faces discrimination for marrying her non-Anglo husband Rudi, is under pressure to start a family, and also worries about her husband’s business dealings.

Also among the staff is Lisa (Clare Hughes) who works part-time in the store while studying in university, but a family tragedy means she has to begin working full-time jeopardising her dreams of becoming a journalist.

The show takes us into a world of strict rules and protocol set against a background of a changing society. Themes of feminism, racism, empowerment and class wars permeate through the storytelling.

The show is a slow burn, but by the second episode all the tangled elements of these characters ambitions and secrets are well and truly tied up in knots.

Todd McKenney appears as Mackenzie, the store’s chief buyer. While Huw Higginson (The Bill, Wentworth) is the store’s General Manager.

Kate Box, Azizi Donnelly, Julian Maroun, Carlos Sanson Jr, Tom Wilson, Sasha Horler, Russell Dykstra, Thom Green, Peter O’Brien, Gemma Ward, and Hamish Michael also appear in the show.

Ladies in Black will have its world premiere on ABCTV on Sunday June 16th at 8:30pm, and the whole series will be available to stream on iView.

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