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Darby and Joan season 1: cast, plot, trailer, filming locations, and everything you need to know

Darby and Joan season 1 stars Greta Scacchi and Bryan Brown.
Darby and Joan season 1. Stars Greta Scacchi and Bryan Brown on the road. (Image credit: Acorn TV)

Darby and Joan season 1 is coming to Acorn TV this August — and it promises to be a sunny, funny, and romantic mystery crime series, with plenty of twists and star turns in breathtaking Australian settings. 

Here’s our guide to the eight-part series starring internationally celebrated actors Bryan Brown and Greta Scacchi…

Darby and Joan Season 1 release date

Darby and Joan season 1 makes its UK debut on Monday, August 8 2022 with the first two episodes of the eight-part series. Two new episodes will be available on subsequent Mondays. The full box set is available from August 29 2022 along with a bonus ‘Making of’ feature.

We will update this guide with a US release date when one is announced. 

Darby and Joan Season 1 premise

Acorn reveals how Darby and Joan kicks off, saying: “On an isolated but spectacular road in the Australian outback a former cop, Jack Darby (Bryan Brown), is driving his battered Landcruiser with only his dog for company. In the opposite direction comes a brash English nurse, Joan Kirkhope (Greta Scacchi), in her behemoth RV. The two try their best to avoid each other but Jack meets Joan head on, and their adventure begins.”

They add: “Retired Australian homicide detective Jack Darby has taken to the open road with his dog, Diesel, to flee his past, while recently widowed English nurse Joan Kirkhope is on a reluctant pilgrimage to find answers about her husband’s mysterious death.”

Darby and Joan Season 1 trailer

Darby and Joan main cast

Greta Scacchi (Joan)

Revered Italian-Australian actor Greta Scacchi stars as Joan Kirkhope, a recently widowed woman on a truth-seeking trail in the wake of her husband Ian’s untimely death. 

Joan is described as: “Recently widowed and living her worst nightmare. She’s on a reluctant pilgrimage following her late husband’s mysterious death, seeking answers she knows she’ll probably never find…”

Greta has starred in Presumed Innocent with Harrison Ford, Robert Altman’s The Player, Jefferson in Paris, Brideshead Revisited, War and Peace, Versailles, and The Terror

She won an Emmy for her role in Rasputin in 1996 and was nominated for The Most Outstanding Newcomer to Film BAFTA in 1983 for Heat and Dust.  

Speaking to WTW Greta says: "Darby and Joan are both fiercely independent, but it's better when the other one is there. I’ve found some scripts aren’t interested in conveying the spirit of people as they get older. And my feeling is, your spirit doesn't necessarily change as you get older. You might not have so much energy, but you've accumulated layers and layers of life experience. You see these characters react to challenges that are closer to their youthful selves than people might imagine. It's very liberating to play."

Greta Scacchi as Joan, clutching a fire extinguisher after running into Darby.

Trouble in paradise. Things heat up when Joan and Darby collide. (Image credit: Acorn TV)

Bryan Brown (Darby)

Logie-winning Aussie actor Bryan Brown is probably best known internationally for his starring role in Cocktail alongside Tom Cruise. In Darby and Joan he plays Jack Darby, a retired detective who hitches his wagon to Joan’s star. 

Jack Darby is described as: “Charming, rugged and down-to-earth. But retirement hasn’t been kind and he takes to the open road to escape his regrets”

Bryan has also starred in The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, A Town Like Alice, The Thorn Birds, Gorillas in the Mist with Sigourney Weaver, Along Came Polly, Murder in the Outback, Australia, and The Good Wife.

Describing the main characters' personality clashes Acorn says: “They couldn’t be more different: the low key, ruggedly charming Aussie, and the tightly-wound, yet warm, witty and determined Englishwoman, but when they collide in the Australian outback and become drawn into a series of unexpected mysteries, this unlikely investigative-duo soon realize the most intriguing puzzle they face is each other.”

Bryan tells WTW: "I love action and the physical side of filming. I still surf and all that stuff, so that’s fun for me. In episode five Jack’s in a pub, serving drinks behind the counter, and he throws up a glass, catches it, and then high-five a bloke. That’s just for those people who know Cocktail - which got me a lot of free drinks all over the world!"

Jack the lad. Bryan Brown as Darby.

Jack the lad. Bryan Brown as Darby.  (Image credit: Acorn TV)

John Waters (Ian)

John Waters plays Joan’s husband Ian Kirkhope in flashback scenes. Viewers will see glimpses of the couple’s life together, as well as some of his suspect activities in Australia. 

John has starred in The Sullivans, All the Rivers Run, Fireflies, All Saints, Mystery Road, The Commons, The End, and Grey Nomads

Speaking about Ian's secret life, Bryan says: "It’s a mystery to unravel. He’s died in [suspicious] circumstances when Joan thought he was in Spain…"

Greta adds: "It’s a terrible shock. Joan is very upset and angry about it. She had no reason to imagine Ian had any secrets. This is the big trauma going on for her throughout the eight episodes. We also have little self-contained mysteries that they come across and solve as part of the format. But the question marks about Ian, how he died, his secrets, was he involved in something criminal, and all sorts of hellish speculation are an ongoing thread."

Anna McGahan (Rebecca)

Anna McGahan plays Joan and Ian’s adult daughter Rebecca, who remains behind in the UK when her mother goes in search of answers about her father. 

Anna has starred in Spirited, Anzac Girls, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, and Picnic at Hanging Rock

Diesel the Dog (Kobe and Nudge)

Jack Darby's constant companion Diesel is played by two dogs - Kobe and Nudge. Greta and Bryan tell WTW that working with the dogs didn't always go swimmingly...

Bryan: "I think Nudge got most of the work, didn’t he Greta? I’m a cat man, but I got on well with both of them and thought they were very good."

Greta: "I love dogs, but they didn’t do anything they were told! 

"Do you remember that time we did that shoot on the beach? It had been a hot day and the dog jumped into the water and kept swimming. The wrangler had to jump in fully clothed because the tide was coming in!"

Bryan: "I forgot about that. Evening was coming in and we had to get the shot before it was dark and he’s on the other side of the estuary. That’s something like we’ll never see again!"

Joan, with Diesel, as she helps Darby escape his upturned truck.

Jack's immediate concern for Diesel instantly endears him to Joan - not that she lets on! (Image credit: Acorn TV)

Darby and Joan guest stars 

There are some pleasing guest stars popping up during the eight-part series including Frayed star Kerry Armstrong and Neighbours legend Peter O’Brien. Also making an appearance are Robert Coleby (A Place to Call Home) and Kaarin Fairfax (Picnic at Hanging Rock).

Darby and Joan filming locations

Darby and Joan was filmed in Queensland across the Gold Coast, Scenic Rim, Redland City, North Stradbroke Island, Mount Isa and Cairns. 

The location is an important element of the Darby and Joan adventures and an essential part of Joan and Jack’s journeys of self-discovery.

Acorn reveals: “Thrown together and drawn into the intriguing mysteries lurking in the isolated, tropical corners of a vast and empty continent, it quickly becomes clear the most fascinating mystery they face is each other.

“Tentative at first, Jack and Joan’s growing relationship drives the series. Like all great love stories, it is complex and complicated, it surprises and delights, it is both comfortable and awkward, it has stratospheric highs and abysmal lows, and, crucially, each character is irrevocably changed because of it.

“With Jack’s idiosyncratic support, Joan is discovering a way to emerge from her pain and find the answers she needs. The prospect is terrifying... And exhilarating.

“And now he’s traveling with Joan, Jack needs to work out how to be with somebody again. He could be the key to finding the answers that Joan is seeking. But is he ready to forgive himself for his past mistakes?”

Location, Location... Bryan and Greta have that windswept look on beautiful beach in episode 1.

Location, Location... Bryan and Greta have that windswept look on beautiful beach in episode 1.  (Image credit: Acorn TV)

Darby and Joan Season 2

Could there be a second series of Darby and Joan?

Speaking to WTW Bryan and Greta seem up for the prospect, although nothing has been confirmed.

Describing Darby and Joan's unique chemistry Bryan says: "I always think that they’re each other's rescue dog. Both of them are damaged, confused and in turmoil about life. They both need help but don’t know how to ask for it. Then they just bump into each other, and that helps each of them steady their course."

Greta raises hopes for another series further, adding: "Yes, and with the help and support of Darby, Joan navigates through this mystery about Ian. By the end of the series they've uncovered some facts but not completely solved it. They’re going to have to do another series so we can find out what happens next!"

Elaine Reilly
Elaine Reilly

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and (opens in new tab)www.whattowatch.com (opens in new tab) covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.

 

As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 


After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.