Mini-series tracing the 'untold story' of Abel Magwitch, the transported convict who is the source of Pip's 'great expectations' in Charles Dickens's novel.
Dickens left Magwitch's experiences in the New South Wales colony relatively unnarrated, and this mini-series uses that aspect of the novel to interrogate Australia's colonial past. Moran, in his Guide to Australian TV Series, notes the 'formal narrative parallels that exist between the Victorian novel of the nineteenth century and the television mini-series', but adds that
Great Expectations--The Untold Story was an interesting idea but unfortunately the ABC discovered that it has been thought of already by Queensland writer Michael Noonan, who had published a novel along these lines. Ironically Noonan had previously enjoyed good relations with the ABC (his Patchwork Hero, for example, was produced by the ABC in 1981). The copyright dispute was settled and the series went ahead.
Moran also notes that 'Tim Burstall and Antony I Ginnane, senior figures in the co-production company, International Film Management, had done little in television to that point, being associated more (as director and producer respectively) with feature films, specialising in commercially generic potboilers of one kind or another'.