Markus Zusak’s The Messenger to Be Adapted for Australia’s ABC


Lingo Pictures is producing The Messenger, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Australian author Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), for ABC, with major production investment from Screen Australia.

The series follows a taxi driver who, after becoming an accidental hero, begins receiving mysterious messages outlining tasks for him to do. The adaptation will star William McKenna (Nowhere Boys), Maggie Dence (Rake, Wonderland), Alexandra Jensen (Frayed, Amazing Grace), Chris Alosio (Troppo) and Kartanya Maynard (Deadloch).

The production reunites the creative team behind Lambs of God, with the writing team led by Sarah Lambert (Lambs of God, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart) and producers Jason Stephens (Lambs of God, Upright) from Lingo Pictures and Elisa Argenzio (Fires, New Gold Mountain, Lambs of God). Executive producers are Helen Bowden, Zusak, Mika Zusak, Lambert and Daniel Nettheim, along with Sally Riley and Rebecca Anderson from ABC.

Lambert is joined on the writing team by Kirsty Fisher (The Family Law, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Laid), Kim Wilson (Total Control, Wentworth) and Magda Wozniak (Bad Behaviour, Mustangs FC). Daniel Nettheim (The Tourist, Line of Duty, Doctor Who) is setup director, and Helena Brooks (Wellmania, 800 Words) and Jennifer Leacey (The Secrets She Keeps, Frayed) are also on board to direct.

Production on The Messenger is set to begin next month in Sydney. The series is slated to air on ABC TV and ABC view in 2023. It is financed with support from Screen NSW, and All3Media International is managing international sales.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating for the first time with the incredibly talented team at Lingo Pictures on this feel-good and intriguing series,” said Sally Riley, head of drama, entertainment and Indigenous at ABC. “Highlighting the importance and impact of human kindness, we look forward to sharing this captivating series with our audience next year.”

Stephens, producer, said, “This story is a tale of untapped potential that reminds us we are each in our own way remarkable. It’s about friendship and trying and falling down. It’s about unrequited love, bravery and getting back up. It’s about family and chosen family, but most of all, it’s about the way small acts of kindness have huge ripples. The Messenger allows us to step into a world where human kindness and connection are the heroes.”

Grainne Brunsdon, head of content at Screen Australia, said, “We’re delighted to support this enchanting story from prolific Australian writer Markus Zusak brought to life on-screen by the award-winning team at Lingo Pictures together with some of Australia’s best screenwriters. The Messenger promises to enthrall audiences young and old with its poignant and redemptive tale of what it is to be human.”

“Screen NSW is proud to support Lingo Pictures as it brings to life the internationally best-selling book The Messenger by Sydney author Markus Zusak,” added David Gordon, acting head of Screen NSW. “Led with a strong cast and crew, including a great writing team spearheaded by Sarah Lambert, who is teaming up with producers Jason Stephens and Elisa Argenzio, the eight-part series will call NSW home and showcase locations in Sydney and Lithgow to a wide audience.”