Banished episode 4, BBC2, review: There is still no let up from the misery

Tonight was a smidgen less depressing but it’s hardly a bonza beach party

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The Independent Culture

It's another grim day in the life of the English convicts of Banished. Admittedly it's less depressing than previous episodes but this is misery TV at its gloomiest.

Major Ross (Joseph Millson) agrees to stop raping Katherine (Joanna Vanderham). But she can still take off her clothes (if she wants) while he “entertains” her – if telling stories about grassing on school bullies can count as entertainment.

Meanwhile James Freeman (Russell Tovey) cuts loose only to stumble across a familiar face - who is cooking up something that the natives call “kangaroo” - before finding himself on the run again.

Then there’s the Governor’s attempt to find a hang man to help restore law and order – whatever justice is in this upside down world. Luckily, the vacancy is filled by the end of the episode by the most unwilling of candidates. Next week will certainly make for intriguing viewing.   


Hypocrisy and skewed justice run through most of Jimmy McGovern's drama, and it's no different in Banished. We're constantly challenged: convict women remain commodities to be had by soldiers while blacksmiths steal food from the vulnerable.

But it’s still hard to get on board with Banished because there is no let up from the harsh reality of the life faced by these people. Little ground is covered this week, making you wonder if the rest of the series will be the same.

It's no doubt an intriguing period that has rarely been explored on TV and you get the impression that at some point the tide is going to turn. But when will we see this society finally start to flourish and build the foundations for what will become Australia?

This misery fest is draining to watch but hopefully there will be a payoff coming up soon.