The words to bear in mind here are 'mini-series', with all the limitations that implies: a tendency to superfluous melodrama (why have a boy fall overboard on the voyage out?) and a remorseless anonymity to the overall production. Isn't there an auteur in the house?
This would be perfect territory for the likes of Dennis Potter or Alan Bleasdale. However, you'll be saved from leaving your armchair by the power of the story itself, eye-opening details of the cruelty of the Empire Builders (the children, for example, all had their tonsils needlessly removed before repatriation), and the excellent young leads - Christine Tremarco and Kevin Jones, neither of whom have acted in front of camera before.