The idea for Foxtel’s sizzling new drama series, Fighting Season emerged in a crowded US airport lounge.
Over a loud speaker came a call for military personnel to board their planes first, a simple nod to their service and a subtle thanks from a respectful nation.
As the show’s producer, Kylie du Fresne — along with her Goalpost Pictures producing partner Rosemary Blight — noted it was a shocking reminder that “in Australia, our troops are completely invisible.”
“At the same time we were seeing newspaper and magazine articles about PTSD in Australian
soldiers and we started thinking that this was really interesting subject matter that hadn’t yet been explored on Australian television,” du Fresne said.
Until now, with the six-part series — to premiere on Foxtel’s showcase channel at 8.30pm, October 28 — set to spark a national conversation about the shocking realities of our longest war in Afghanistan and the toll it takes on those serving and their families.
Starring Jay Ryan, Ewen Leslie and an impressive cast of new talent, including George Pullar and Julian Maroun, it tracks the fallout for a returned army unit, after a sortie goes fatally wrong — with the subtitle: “you don’t stop fighting just because you’re home.”
Ryan, who researched the impact of PTSD for his first major US role, in Beauty And The Beast, plays Sergeant ‘Speedo’ Collins who tries to bury his own demons with his unit commander, killed under mysterious circumstances.
His wife and young children are struggling to cope with the angry man who has come home to them, and the damaging, violent impact he is having on their lives.
As lead director Kate Woods points out: “we send these young men to war and teach them to kill and when they do, and it becomes part of their life, how do they assimilate that into themselves as human beings when they come back home? And what responsibility does the Armed Forces have for that?”
The series’ writer, Blake Ayshford was born into an air force family and welcomed the opportunity to explore some of the authentic issues being tackled by the limited series.
“We tried to deal honestly with that situation — not all people who return from war suffer from PTSD, but for those that do, it can still be a source of great shame for the soldiers themselves.”
Legacy Australia chief executive, Scott Warr welcomed the series as a way to continue raising awareness about the issues facing today’s military family and the battles personnel face after their time in service.
“It [PTSD] doesn’t affect every veteran that leaves service, but the key thing is those it does impact it does so significantly … not just on the veteran but those around them. We’re talking being disengaged from the family, to being moody, being different to what he or she was like before they went [to war] … through the whole continuum up and including, unfortunately the veterans not being able to cope with it and sadly taking their own lives.”
Warr said mental health resources and support, whether via Legacy or the Department of Veterans Affairs, had improved greatly, but broader understanding in the community about these issues was essential.
“Anything that can keep raising these questions [because] we haven’t got it all right yet. We’re still getting veterans who kill themselves and at Legacy we see the results of that. Unfortunately, the contemporary families and helping young widows are probably the only growing part of our business.”
* Fighting Season will premiere 8.30pm, October 28 on Foxtel’s showcase.