A British and Australian co-production (one of several collaborations between the ABC and Revcom) that cost $6 million to produce, Act of Betrayal was a project over which, according to Moran's Guide to Australian TV Series, 'the ABC had very little creative control and input. Indeed part of the action of the series seems beside the point. It might have been Canada, New Zealand or almost anywhere else.'
Moran offers the following synopsis of the narrative:
A bomb explodes in a London shopping centre and an IRA man, Michael Maguire [McGurk], turns police informer. IRA leaders in Balfast are taken into custody as the police then arrange for Maguire, his wife Eileen and their son Sean to settle with new identities in Australia. The IRA hires an American, Callaghan, a professional killer, to find and kill Maguire. By then Maguire is settled in Sydney, where he has a brief affair with an artist, Cathy. Callaghan arrives in Sydney where he sets about the manhunt. Coincidentally he meets Cathy and she realises he is empty, lonely and, in effect, dying on the inside. Callaghan finds Maguire and lets him go. By which time a second Irish hit team has arrived to finish the job. Callaghan and Maguire are both killed in the melee, but Cathy and Eileen survive.
Although Moran describes the program as 'an interesting blend of the thriller form interwoven with political issues', he emphasises that the focus is on interpersonal relationships: neither the political background to the bombing nor the McGurks' personal backgrounds are explored in any detail. He also criticises the program's failure to capitalise on Elliott Gould, calling the role of Callaghan 'a milestone on the way to oblivion.'