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TV

Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths star in a searing drama about power, politics and personal cost

Everything you need to know about your next must-watch series, Total Control.

By Cynthia Wang
After a video of her preventing a tragedy from escalating catapults her into the national spotlight, Indigenous activist Alex Irving receives a startling offer – a Senate seat, courtesy of Prime Minister Rachel Anderson.
The PM, often the lone woman in Canberra's old boys' club, sees a kindred spirit in strident, guarded Alex (Deborah Mailman). But Rachel (Rachel Griffiths) has a cynical agenda: she intends to use the popular political newbie to bolster public support ahead of an election.
Throwing a wrench into her plans is the fact that Alex actually wants to do good and sees her MP status as the means to reform her remote community.
Alex's journey, and her battle of wills with Rachel, becomes the intriguing core of Total Control.
Embattled PM Rachel is watching TV one night, worried about her upcoming fight to preserve her slim centrist hold on her party. Then she sees regional Queensland health worker Alex Irving on her screen.
Alex had driven five hours to Mt Isa that day to pay her mother's parking fines, only to emerge from a government building and into a crime scene.
A disturbed man was on a shooting spree and Alex became a human shield, preventing more killings.
Her actions make Alex an instant hero, yet she refuses to do any interviews, leaving Rachel to send aide Jonathan Cosgrove (Harry Richardson) to offer her the MP slot.
She declines and demands that if the prime minister was so keen on having her, she should make a personal approach. That night, Alex calls her brother Charlie (Rob Collins).He asks her poignantly, "Honestly, sis, they just want a pet Aborigine. Is that who you are?"
After Rachel does fly in to make her pitch, Alex agrees, and soon is making a carefully scripted maiden speech in Canberra. But by her first appearance on the morning briefing, Alex is on her feet again.
She declares, "I'm barefoot in your studios because I'm sick and tired of pretending that everything is OK."
Yep, the series is off to an intriguing start. Scroll through to meet some of the cast of Total Control before it premieres this Sunday...
ALEX IRVING (Deborah Mailman)
Thrust into the spotlight, the indigenous community leader is tapped for national service as an MP. Can the cynical and savvy Alex trust the PM to do right by her?
RACHEL ANDERSON (Rachel Griffiths)
Fending off her party's vocal right-wing faction on the eve of an election, the prime minister views Alex as just a good PR move. But they are more alike than she knows.
JONATHAN COSGROVE (Harry Richardson)
Ambitious in his own right, the party prodigy becomes Alex's chief advisor. He shows her the ropes, but he may have ulterior motives for doing so.
CHARLIE IRVING (Rob Collins)
Alex's brother, who moved from their country home long ago, doubts her recruitment to Canberra will work out. Then again, his loyalties lie with the opposing party.
TRACEY HELLIAR (Celia Ireland)
The office manager, while always courteous and efficient, still harbours loyalty for the late MP whose position the untested newcomer Alex has filled.
TOM CAMPBELL JNR (Aaron Pedersen)
The chair of the Winton Land Council has hopes that Alex can bring much needed change to their community, one borne out of a deep connection.
TOTAL CONTROL premieres Sunday, 8.30pm, on ABC.

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