Underbelly: articles

New Underbelly focuses on drug lords Robert Trimbole and Terry Clark

CHANNEL 9 has begun production of the second series of its hit TV crime drama Underbelly, which will follow the booming illegal heroin and marijuana trade of the 1970s and 80s in Sydney and Melbourne.

Revealing details of the series, called Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, Nine said today it would be based around the lives of two late infamous drug lords from the 1970s and 80s.

One is "Aussie Bob" Trimbole, a marijuana and heroin dealer, who will be played by Roy Billing.

Trimbole was one of the country's most notorious gangsters and is believed to have organised the murder of Liberal politician and anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay in Griffith in 1977.

Trimbole died in 1987 of natural causes in Spain.

The other main character, to be played by Matthew Newton, will be Terry "Mr Asia" Clark, the head of a New Zealand drug syndicate, who was responsible for many deaths.

He died in prison in 1983, officially of natural causes, but speculation arose that he was secretly murdered.

Nine said the series would also follow the story of the federal police during the period.

"Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities follows the Australian criminal landscape that changed forever in the mid 1970s when the illegal drug industry took hold," Nine said.

"In the decade between '76 and '86 the marijuana and heroin business expanded exponentially. "Crooks with enough nerve, brains and imagination stood to make millions."

Mackay will be played by Andrew McFarlane, while Peter O'Brien will portray the late Sydney underworld figure and racing identity George Freeman.

Nine said more characters and cast would be announced soon.

Nine's head of drama, Jo Horsburgh, said the series, produced by Screentime, was sure to match up to the hit first series, which followed Melbourne's gangland war that raged from 1995 to 2004.

"Scripts and casting are well underway and the series is proving to be as rich and exciting as the first series," she said.

"I think the audience will love it."

Screentime executive producer Des Monaghan said he was very excited about the series, which "promises to be even bigger and better than the first series".

It will be filmed in both Sydney and Melbourne until March next year.

October 16, 2008