The Circuit


Series 1: 2 DVDs, 1 CD, 312 min (6 episodes)

Series 2: 2 DVDs, 312 min (6 episodes)

Drew Ellis is the latest lawyer to join the chaotic and challenging world of the Kimberley Circuit Court. The Circuit follows a magistrate and an entourage of court officers and lawyers on a regular five-day 2,000 kilometre round-trip to dispense justice to the remote communities of north Western Australia.

It's a tough gig for anyone, but for Drew Ellis, a city blackfella, it's a rude awakening as he quickly comes to realise that one law for two cultures does not always equal a fair go.

The Circuit is the first Australian drama series where Indigenous Australians take a lead in co-producing, writing, and directing.

— Catriona McKenzie, director

The Circuit - Series 1

Episode 1: Its a Long Way Home

City lawyer Drew Ellis finds himself a long way from home as he begins his new job with the Aboriginal Legal Service in the remote Kimberley region of north Western Australia. He joins a 'family' of court officers as they travel the 2000 kilometre circuit to dispense 'justice' in a harsh and vast environment a long way from home.

Episode 2: In Country

A flurry of racist leaflets and a lack of faith in him by the people he is trying to help put Drew in bad temper. Sam and Drew seem determined to remain on different sides of the fence. Necessity places them in a position where they find out more about each other as a courtroom decision has tragic consequences.

Episode 3: Deeper Water

The race to save a young girl from abuse is on, but the law, and the predator's ties with the community and court, make the task seemingly impossible. Bella takes the law into her own hands and Archie and Clarry find themselves on different sides of the fence, leading to violence.

Episode 4: Stairway to the Moon

It's festival time in Broome, and what begins as a relaxing weekend quickly spirals out of control. Drew receives an ultimatum, Peter gets more than he bargained for, and there's tragedy for two of our people when one lands in hospital and the other in prison.

Episode 5: You Always Hurt the Ones You Love

In the aftermath of the festival, Archie and Clarry face court and potential prison-time. Sam makes a tragic discovery about his son as Drew makes a regretful decision about seeing his family.

Episode 6: Home Is Where The Past Is

Drew's replacement has arrived with the wet season. Clarry struggles with prison, as a predator returns to the Mission bringing trouble with him. Sam's son forces him to make a surprise decision, and Drew is left to make a life changing choice.

I have got an awareness of Aboriginal culture and the law now, a political and social awareness of things I have neglected or been ignorant of before.

— Gary Sweet, actor, The Circuit

The Circuit - Series 2

Episode 7: Sorry Business

Facing new cases, new dilemmas, Aboriginal lawyer Drew Ellis' sweaty, dusty journey on the traveling court is interrupted by tragic news. The circuit team is devastated, particularly Bella, who seeks solace in Drew's arms.

Episode 8: Reading the Signs

Sam is back from looking after his son, and Drew and Bella's relationship continues in secret, but Magistrate Peter Lockhart's decisions at The Junction push the community to the edge of anarchy.

Episode 9: The Fallout

The inquest into Clarry's death is as tough as everyone feared, but first Peter has to deal with the fall-out from The Junction riot, while Drew's argument with Mick over his son's future draws unexpected hostility from Bella.

Episode 10: The Devil You Know

New magistrate Terri Oliver's tough love approach is making life hard for the ALS team. While Peter continues to battle an inquiry into his professional conduct, Archie inadvertently resurrects a ghost from Sam's past.

Episode 11: Of Mice and Men

Now back in the chair, Magistrate Peter Lockhart's standing is under threat when he is discovered helping disgraced elder Harry Pope, and a confrontation with Mick results in a surprising invitation for Drew.

Episode 12: Swings and Roundabouts

Drew's journey 'home' is complete as he walks the land of his ancestors with Mick and the elders. Sam and Louise's wedding doesn't go off without a hitch, but Peter finally has a win at Jalwarra.


Aaron Pedersen (Arrernte/Arabana) - Drew, Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) lawyer
Kelton Pell (Noongar) - Sam Wallan, court officer
Gary Sweet - Peter Lockhart, Magistrate
Tammy Clarkson (Wajarri/Yamaji) - Bella Noble, Clerk of Courts
Marta Kaczmarek - Ellie Zdybicka, Polish expat and Legal Aid lawyer
Nick Simpson-Deeks - Archie McMahon, journalist
LeRoy Parsons (Dainggatti/Yuin) - Clarence 'Clarry' Long, Archie's Aboriginal boyfriend (and Bella's cousin)
Bill McCluskey - Bob 'Shirley' Temple, Prosecutor
Kirsty Hillhouse - Dianne Ellis, Drew's wife
Release dates
<a href="">Season 1</a> screened on SBS Television from 8 July to 12 August 2007,
<a href="">Season 2</a> screened from 1 December 2009 to 5 January 2010.
Video/DVD release date
15 August 2007 (Season 1)
2007 Human Rights Television Award 2007 AFI Award for best guest or supporting actor in TV drama (David Ngoombujarra) 2010 Best Direction in a TV Drama Mini-Series, Australian Directors Guild Awards (episode 'Sorry Business')
M - Mature
David Bridie

The Circuit is set in Broome, in the Kimberly region of north Western Australia.

There are three Aboriginal language groups in the Broome area: the Yawuru, Djugun and Goolarabooloo. Most of The Circuit was shot in and around Broome in Yawuru country.

Apart from the large Aboriginal cast involved, many key creative and technical roles were also filled by Aboriginal people, eg. the co-producer, several scriptwriters and two of the directors. This is a first for a prime-time television drama. Many assistant and attachment positions were also filled by locals from the Broome community.

The music score includes local musicians and singers like Steven and Alan Pigram, The Pigram Brothers, Kerrianne Cox (Beagle Bay) and Patrick Davies (Halls Creek).

The Circuit on SBS

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Korff, J 2020, The Circuit, <>, retrieved 20 May 2024

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