Melissa George & Anthony Hayes

In commissioning the TV series of The Slap to be made, the ABC took a massive risk. This award winning book by Christos Tsiolkas could tank massively when transferring to television if punches are pulled or if the series was cast with actors who don’t quite fill the shoes of the characters.

Luckily for all of us, what we got was a drama of such rare quality and intensity, it delivered to the same high standard of the book on which it was based.

The writing team of Emily Ballou, Alice Bell, Brendan Cowell, Kris Mrksa & Cate Shortland offered 8 scripts that allowed the cast to step into their skin and deliver their passion, their beliefs, their pain – all integral to the strength of the book. It is testament to these five brilliant writers that The Slap built week on week and drew audiences in to the story.

The cast were amazing. Jonathan Lapaglia (Hector) gave us the lost middle-aged father who didn’t know what he wanted until he screwed it up. Melissa George (Rosie) and Alex Dimitriades (Harry) were amazing, particlarly in the kitchen table confrontation when Harry came to apologise, at the urging of Hector. You could feel the mixture of rage and shame Anthony Hayes (Gary) felt as the party unfolded that led to the slap of his son (Julian Mineo – Hugo), and how that only added to his torture. Both Sophie Lowe (Connie) and Blake Davis (Richie) were incredible as the teens pulped into this very adult situation. The two stand out performances were from Sophie Okonedo (Aisha) and Lex Marinos (Manolis) – both working hard to keep their family together, to try to straddle the fence and be at peace with everyone’s pain, even their own.

A stunning series the ABC should be applauded for screening. The Slap was never going to be an easy story, it was written to deliver conflict, to force the reader to take sides. The TV series offered us that in spades. Catch it on ABC’s online catch-up platform iview while you can, or seek out the DVD box set when released otherwise.

Matchbox Pictures, responsible for The Slap, will be producing The Straits for ABC1 to screen next year. Given what they delivered in this instance, we can expect the same high quality and a big year of drama in 2012.

The Slap reminds us that Australian audiences will watch authentic Australian drama. It doesn’t have to contain boobs, guns oroutrageous violence, nor ships or cops by the drayload. The Slap was an incredible 8 hours of television that was never going to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy as you chewed through which side you were on, who you believed… and that is in itself a victory.