In 2008, the Nine Network decided to do something daring and screen a freshly Australian television crime-drama based on the Melbourne gangland wars of 1995 – 2004. Featuring an all-star Australian cast – such as Vince Colosimo, Gyton Grantley, Kat Stewart, Madeleine West, Les Hill, Rodger Corser and many more – Underbelly put the spotlight on Melbourne’s criminal underworld, with The Carlton Crew and Carl Williams the main focus. The series was based on the book – Leadbelly: Inside Australia’s Underworld by John Silvester and Andrew Rule.
Full of sex, violence, swearing and drug taking, the 13-part series was a ratings juggernaut, but also drew controversy due to the trials that were actively happening in the state of Victoria at the time of broadcast. So much so, in some areas of Australia, full broadcasts were edited, and the DVD was banned from sale in Victoria until 2013.
The Underbelly franchise has since spawned 6 individual stories, as well as four telemovies, two sequels and two foreign adaptions, with more to come.
The series was nominated for nine Logie awards, winning three, and making a household name out of Gyton Grantley (who played Carl Williams) and Kat Stewart (who played Carl’s wife, Roberta Williams).
While the first season has been available on physical media and subscription streaming for some time, you can now view the series for free on 9Now. You just need to register on their site to view the episodes.