Banished is a British drama television serial created by Jimmy McGovern. The seven-part serial first aired on 5 March 2015 on BBC Two and was inspired by events in the eighteenth century when Britain established a penal colony in Australia.
Set in the first penal colony founded by the British in New South Wales, Australia, in the year 1788, in which the British convicts live alongside their Royal Navy marine guards and their officers. A thousand prisoners are guarded by one hundred men, and with five men for every woman, tensions are high when the women are shared among the men.
During the 17th and 18th centuries the British government transported some of their criminals to the American colonies, but this practice was brought to an end by the American Revolution and Britain’s gaols became overcrowded. Transportation to Australia was set up with the First Fleet of 11 ships arriving in Botany Bay on 20 January 1788 to found a penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. Other penal colonies were later established in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), Queensland and Western Australia. The last convict ship left Britain in 1867 and arrived in Western Australia on 10 January 1868.
Many of the convicts were transported for petty crimes, such as stealing a handkerchief or a pair of buckles, and some were as young as 11 or 12. After their prison terms were served most stayed in Australia and joined the other settlers, with some rising to respected positions in Australian society.