We’ve seen the Australian Outback, and more specifically Australian Indigenous culture, depicted in series like Mystery Road before to good effect.

But Acorn TV’s True Colours (shown on SBS in its native Australia) take things onto new levels of exploration, taking in as it does kinship systems and complex hierarchies within Aboriginal culture, ‘sorry business’ and racism, casual or otherwise.

It’s riveting and engrossing, and its setting and culture make it a must-watch. But strip away all the fascinating Aboriginal culture, and True Colours is, at its heart, a good, old-fashioned police procedural.

Filmed entirely on location in the Northern Territory – in and around Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Amoonguna Aboriginal Community and the Yeperenye – this four-part series stars the hugely likeable Rarriwuy Hick as detective Toni Alma, a headstrong and at the end of her tether woman. Her relationship is falling apart, she perpetuates petty (but oh-so-satisfying revenge) on the perpetrator of racism and she just seems at a dead end in her life – not taken seriously in society because of her ethnicity and not taken seriously at home or at work.

To get her out of her hair, her boss sends her to the community where she spent her childhood to investigate the murder of a young woman who had crashed her car. Her uncle, Samuel Alma (Warren H. Williams) is the local community police officer

She needs to navigate two sets of laws in the hunt for a killer, plus personal complications: and her ex, Nick Gawler (Luke Arnold), has been assigned as her partner in the investigation. 

Add in that her brother becomes a prime suspect in the investigation, and you get a few plot twists that defy belief – it’s like the writers sat down and asked each other how they could make Toni’s life as uncomfortable as they could. Let’s make her go back to her community and work with people who eye her with suspicions, let’s team her with the ex she was recently dumped by, and let’s make her own brother as a prime suspect. You get the picture.

And yet, despite all of this, True Colours is really engrossing. The group meetings with the elders as they make art are just great – full of warmth and humour – Toni’s interactions with her wily, sage mother are great, and we get to learn how some of the sacred stones and culture are exploited to make money. And, of course, we get to see some of the Aborigine customs, especially when it comes to rituals surrounding the death of a community member.

And these are the things that elevate True Colours above the norm. What could have been a fairly run-of-the-mill procedural is actually a very solid, (what feels like) a very authentic portrayal of the Indigenous community and a very captivating and compelling murder mystery. Recommended.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 4 out of 5.

True Colours is available to watch on Acorn TV in the UK


5 thoughts on “SERIES REVIEW True Colours”

  1. Kudos for a well informed review of True Colours. The English destroyed a 60,000 year old civilisation in Australia. Perhaps the Earth’s only sustainable culture. Most don’t give a shit so long as their Rio Tinto shares keep paying out.
    The boomerang is a sophisticated winged weapon. Of the 10,000 things a boomerang can do, returning is just one.


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