The BBC has shared a media pack for Banished, which begins on March 5th, and it contains the first promo shot of Joseph Millson as Major Ross, along with an interview with him.
Who is Major Ross?
He is a very experienced major in the British marines at the time, who’s clearly fought here, there and everywhere. Jimmy McGovern gave me the best advice about his character, which is that 90% of the people around him disgust him and the other 10% are his interiors. He’s able to do his job and maintain tight discipline because to him these convicts are not human beings, they’re rats. It’s like he’s in his gentlemen’s club – he’s totally relaxed. He’s so confident in his superiority, he’s got nothing to prove to anyone in the colony.
What does Ross make of Governor Phillip?
Phillip is a very liberal governor and of course that’s everything Ross doesn’t appreciate. It’s not a political thing. He’s only worried because he thinks Phillip’s liberalism is dangerous. In Ross's opinion Governor Phillip's is not strict enough about the food, the rations and meting out punishment. Major Ross's worry is that such an approach will lead to his soldiers getting hurt, hungry or dead. But interestingly, by the end, these men respect each other. It's just the most beautifully written piece.
What makes Ross more than just a pantomime villain?
He takes pride in his job, he’s exceptionally good at it and his sense of duty is absolute. Major Ross is an honourable man and a decent, upright person, and is totally committed to his profession. He loves his men. Every day, he just wants to keep his promise to his men, and get them home safely. Get in, get the pay-cheque and get home. Ross is like a well oiled machine, he's a perfectionist.If he takes a shave, it is the most perfect shave somebody could ever take. I’m the only one who has clean fingernails in this entire cast, and I think that says a lot!
How did you find maintaining that level of grooming in a thick costume in Australia?
It’s hot. But I got used to it. But it's tricky at certain times like when you’ve been on walking on sandy beaches in period boots. I had to carry a 12 stone man for a lot of takes and even after a hundred yards of carrying him, in the heat, was no fun. But that said these experiences are all helpful for understanding how they actually would have lived.
What is Banished about as a whole?
It’s like extreme Georgian Big Brother with unbelievably good dialogue.