Sam Neill and Peta Sergeant in House of Hancock.
Sam Neill and Peta Sergeant in House of Hancock. Photo Channel

Gina's epic family feud on show as biopics take over

IT SEEMS biopics are the flavour of the moment.

Real-life stories dominate this year's field of Oscar nominees, from The Imitation Game to The Theory of Everything, Still Alice, Wild and Selma.

It's no different on the TV landscape, with several major mini-series slated for this year.

There's Channel 10's Peter Brock and Princess Mary biopics and Seven's US import Houdini. Production also began this week on Seven's Pete Allen biopic, Not The Boy Next Door.

But first cab off the rank and onto our screens is Channel 9's two-part family drama House of Hancock, which debuts tomorrow night.

The mini-series centres on the world's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, taking in her childhood as well as her public battle with her father's second wife, Rose, and her ongoing legal battles with her own children over the multi-billion-dollar Hancock legacy.

Mandy McElhinney, aka Rhonda from the AAMI car insurance ads, goes through a stunning transformation - complete with a fat suit and prosthetic face mask - to portray Rinehart as we all know her today.

But it's Rinehart's childhood and privileged boarding-school upbringing that sheds light on who she is today.

What's most striking about the mini-series is the dialogue, parts of which are directly taken from real-life correspondence between Gina and her father Lang.

The cruel, hurtful language cuts to the core of this epic family feud.

It's also a triumphant return to Aussie TV for Peta Sergeant (Rose), who has spent the past few years starring in the US TV series The Originals and Once Upon A Time in Wonderland.

She has the most colourful role as the woman who comes between Gina and her gruff father.

While the frocks might be outrageous, Sergeant's performance is subtle enough to avoid any caricature trap falls.