‘Because of the nature of the show, it is something that we think will be very transferable’

Distributor eOne
Producer Subtext Pictures
Length 6 x 60 minutes
Broadcaster Nine Network (Australia)

There’s a bold but simple concept at the heart of After The Trial – after long deliberation, a burned-out jury delivers its verdict to the court, but as they go their separate ways, four of them can’t leave the case alone, wondering if they delivered the correct verdict.

What follows is an attempt to uncover the truth, a twisting, turning crime mystery driven by its antagonists’ unique perspective and group dynamic, and the secrets their unsanctioned investigation reveals about the suspect and themselves.

“As in all good crime mystery thrillers, they decide to have a bit of a poke around,” says Noel Hedges, executive vice-president of acquisitions at distributor eOne.

“It’s a fun concept that grows in intrigue – it’s not a courtroom drama but starts with the end of the trial and goes into a great labyrinthine crime story. It’s got a lightness to it too, with very playful relationships.”

Hedges says the six-parter for Nine Network slots neatly into the current trend for lighter crime stories.

Citing HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant, BBC1’s The Outlaws and The Tourist, and Disney+ series Only Murders In The Building, he says: “We’re being asked for dramas with a lovely line of humour running through them that doesn’t detract from the stakes, but allows the story to be more entertaining without getting too dark and psychological.”

Writers Ellie Beaumont and Drew Proffitt, he says, are “very strong on story and great on the vernacular of popular television”.

The duo, who previously penned Nine comedy drama House Husbands and SBS thriller Dead Lucky, and produce through their label Subtext Pictures, tap into a rich stream of Australian drama that excels in foregrounding relationships.

“They’re good on banter and irony - they’ve created some likeable characters and have written light and frothy dialogue,” says Hedges. “Australian writers really crack relationships that are funny and sad and touching - you just really like spending time with these people.”

Australia is, he says, “increasingly seen as a home to strong storytelling – not as ‘foreign’ drama or something you just remake, but something with big talent and great ideas”.

While Sullivan Stapleton (Blindspot; Animal Kingdom) is the thriller’s best-known face, Hedges is excited by Michelle Lim Davidson (The Secret She Keeps; Top Of The Lake: China Girl), who is stars in upcoming eOne show The Newsreader, and is one of the most talked-about actresses in Australia.

After The Trial is being shot in Sydney and Hedges says the sunny locations and slick but unfussy direction offer a welcome alternative to interiors-driven courtroom dramas and gritty, noirish crime thrillers. It is due to air in the first half of the year and anticipation is high that it will deliver as a serialised drama with a weekly buzz as viewers theorise about the twists between episodes.

While the story is close-ended, Hedges says there are ideas about how to extend the series, or even franchise it, to tell a variety of stories, while keeping its core concept.