Interview with Rob Collins who plays Ron in Ten Pound Poms
PHOTO: Rob Collins as Ron
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Who is Ron?
Ron works at the same building site as Terry. He’s also a war veteran and it’s that experience that ultimately bonds the two character together. He is the link between the indigenous and non-indigenous communities, a lead figure in the community and that’s essentially part of his struggle throughout the series, how to protect his mob whilst trying to carve out a life in a largely European world that in the 1950s was very much set against them.
What drew you to the role?
I’ve always been fascinated by the interactions between indigenous mobs during the war and the armed services. I’m from the Tiwi Islands and in 1942 Matthias Ulungura, one of our elders, was the first Australian to capture Japanese prisoners of war on Australian soil. So it’s always been part of our history and what stoked my early interest in it. There are many wonderful stories of indigenous servicemen fighting for our country, particularly in the 1950s when they were prohibited from joining the armed forces. I find it really inspiring and a bit mind-boggling that this group of people would nonetheless readily offer up their services to protect their country.
Did you know much about the Ten Pound Poms?
I was familiar with the Ten Pound Poms but since signing up to the show three out of five people tell me they’re from a family who have a historical connection and it’s been wonderful to know.
How did you prepare for playing Ron who plays such a pivotal role?
I looked at the indigenous servicemen of the time and what their experiences and mission life was like back then. One of the scenes that has stuck with me most was one we shot at night-time when the police appear and the community scatter into the bush. It was a harrowing part of that history to retell, and I love that the show didn’t shy away from it. Australians, and indigenous Australians in particular, the members of the stolen generation, will stoke some feelings when they watch that particular scene, and certainly for Trisha Morton-Thomas who plays Auntie May and myself – we felt it acting it. It was nice to see another Northern Territorian on set as well. Trisha and I enjoyed working together again. She’s someone we indigenous actors really look up to, one of our elders, so it’s always lovely to be on set with her.
It's not lost that being born in 1979, the official policy of removing Aboriginal children from their families ended around then. It’s a sobering thought and as a father myself, I can’t imagine living in a world where it was official public policy to have my children removed from me because of the colour of my skin. It was an important scene to pay due respect and honour because it’s a huge wound in our country and something I was happy to see treated with great respect and sensitivity.
What was it like being on set?
Every day on set was like being transported back to the 1950s – the art direction is incredible and so authentic. It’s going to be fascinating for people to see that side of Australia, especially for people in the UK. And the stories are really compelling. You have a group of characters who are trying to make a life for themselves against incredible odds, especially for our veterans, who are trying to shake off a past that’s refusing to let them go.
Ten Pound Poms will air weekly on BBC One from Sunday 14 May at 9pm.
All episodes will also be available on iPlayer immediately.
The six-part series is a co-production with Australian TV channel Stan, who will air the series in Australia.
Filming took place on location in Australia in 2022.
Source BBC One
May 5, 2023 4:00am ET by BBC One