Milly Alcock and Tim Minchin star in the new Aussie TV series Upright.
Milly Alcock and Tim Minchin star in the new Aussie TV series Upright. Supplied

Misfits hit the right notes in off-kilter comedy

TIM Minchin looms large on the Australian cultural landscape.

But the musician, writer, satirist, actor, composer and director was largely unknown to Milly Alcock when the young actor landed her first leading TV role opposite the Olivier and Logie Award winner in Foxtel's new original series Upright.

"I wasn't familiar with Tim's work apart from Matilda (the Musical). I'm not his demographic (laughs)," Alcock tells The Guide. "Then I didn't research him or anything because I didn't want to psych myself out. You're already nervous (before filming) and I didn't want to be more nervous."

Minchin writes and stars in Upright, an eight-part drama about two misfits thrown together by chance in the middle of the outback, who forge the unlikeliest of bonds in their quest to get a precious piano from one side of the country to the other.

Tim Minchin and Milly Alcock in Upright.
Tim Minchin and Milly Alcock in Upright. Matt Nettheim

Alcock plays rogue teenager Meg, whom Minchin has described as "this sweary belligerent superhero of a kid".

"Because Meg is so headstrong and driven - she's not one to be messed with - you don't feel that vulnerability for her. You actually feel scared for him," she says. "It is an odd relationship to have and a weird tightrope to walk but that's what makes it more exciting.

"It's about these two people who are both lost, physically and emotionally, and them figuring out where they need to be."

Lucky (Minchin) and Meg's road trip adventure across the Nullarbor Plain was mirrored off screen as the cast and crew spent months on the road.

"We did a month in Adelaide and then six weeks across South Australia and Western Australia. We would be filming on big dirt roads and the flies would just land on all of our faces during takes. Every day was a challenge because you were in the middle of nowhere but it really made me appreciate Australia's landscape," Alcock says.

"I'm from the inner west of Sydney, so it was a very different environment to get exposed to.

Tim Minchin and Milly Alcock in a scene from Upright.
Tim Minchin and Milly Alcock in a scene from Upright. Matt Nettheim

"It's a special show to put forward to say this is worth fighting for and to make sure we just look after the planet. Travelling did make me so much more aware of the vastness of Australia and how flat and dry it is."

Alcock even met the real-life version of her character while filming in South Australia.

"We were at a station in between Port Augusta and Woomera, and all of our extras were locals. There was a girl who came in, 16 or 17, and she was driving to Perth to visit her father who was sick and she had a dog," she says. "We even looked similar - she had beautiful red hair and freckles. It was one of those weird moments."

Upright premieres on Fox Showcase at 8.30pm AEDT.