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Black Hands TV miniseries about humanising Bain family, creators say

The creators of TVNZ drama Black Hands, which examines the years leading up to the Bain family murders, are hoping to dispel the dysfunction associated with the family and instead reveal their rich inner lives. 

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Robin Scholes and actor Richard Crouchley joined Breakfast to discuss the show ahead of its premiere on Sunday. Source: Breakfast

On June 20, 1994, five members of the Bain family were shot and killed in their home in Dunedin. The details of that fateful morning were extensively covered in the trial that followed and subsequent retrial.

The five-part TV series follows each individual family member in the years leading up to the murders in the hopes of humanising them. 

Black Hands producer Robin Scholes told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that they had initially started out with a podcast of the same name, which she said "takes a particular view" which they could not do for the drama series.

Scholes said while people view the family as being "a bit dysfunctional", those who knew the Bains described them as "really talented, bright, very, very intelligent [and] highly educated".

While the family home was believed to be in disarray, Scholes said others had described it as being filled with "objects of art, books, music - they were very, very good musicians - so all of this was a revelation to us".

"We realised that the family had actually been vilified and it was time to address that and actually respect the family as they were," she said.

Oldest son David Bain was convicted in 1995 of the murders of his parents and siblings, but he was acquitted in a 2009 retrial - two years after the Privy Council found there had been a "substantial miscarriage of justice".

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Richard Crouchley, who plays David Bain in the series, said his approach to the role was not just about the "physical manifestation" of Bain, but also "really getting the essence of who he was" by "really delving into his relationship with other people".

Crouchley said it was "absolutely critical" to humanise Bain, who was 22 years old at the time of the murders.

"As an actor, you can't really afford to have judgments on the person you're portraying or it leads to quite a shallow performance, and I think the whole series is about really humanising everyone and understanding the pressures that everyone was under," he said.

Scholes said she wants viewers "to love the family as much as we grew to love them and to grieve for them as much as we grieve for them".

Black Hands premieres on TVNZ1 on Sunday.