Sam Worthington in a scene from Deadline Gallipoli.
Sam Worthington in a scene from Deadline Gallipoli. Photo Matt Nettheim

What's on the box for the Anzac centenary

A RAFT of special programming marking the Gallipoli centenary rolls out this week.

As with any big milestone or anniversary, the 100 years since the start of the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign is an important chance to reflect on, honour and preserve the events which helped to shape the Australian identity.

The ABC has a slate of programming, starting with tomorrow's The Great Australian War Horse.

The second half of Ben Roberts-Smith's documentary for Channel 7, The Power of Ten, also screens tomorrow.

But the mini-series I cannot recommend highly enough is Foxtel's Deadline Gallipoli.

The two-part drama follows three war correspondents during their coverage of the Gallipoli campaign.

Sam Worthington is an executive producer and stars as Phillip Schuler, a photographer turned reporter for The Age (his father was the editor) who was so affected by what he saw in the trenches and on the battlefield that he signed up to serve on the Western Front.

British actor Hugh Dancy plays infamous English correspondent Ellis Ashmead Bartlett, who evolves from a lush who remains at arm's length from the real fighting to a man who risks his career to lobby for the removal of Sir Ian Hamilton.

But the real star is newcomer Joel Jackson, who plays the socially awkward but doggedly determined Australian correspondent Charles Bean.

Deadline Gallipoli succeeds in all the ways Channel 9's Gallipoli didn't. At four hours across two parts, it's long enough to cover the entire occupation of the Dardanelles while succinct enough not to overstay its welcome.

The power of Deadline Gallipoli also lies in its perspective. We relate to these men who must serve as the observers of daily horror and who feel helpless in the face of military censorship to shed light on the blunders of the high command.

The acting and photography are superb.

This is the type of dramatic tribute I hope Charles Bean himself would be happy with.