If you are a Batman or Gotham fan, the trusty butler Alfred Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth is no stranger. With his British wit, impeccable suits, fighting skills and ability to put up with the often-complex Master Bruce Wayne (aka Batman), Alfred is a character who has been mostly in the shadows both onscreen and in the comic books. But that is about to change as this legendary character finally gets his own origin series with Pennyworth, from Saturday, 10 October on M-Net City (DStv 115) at 21:40.

Simply titled Pennyworth, the series – created by Gotham bigwigs Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon– takes us back to the 1960s where we meet a much younger 20-something Alfred (Jack Bannon), who is working as a doorman at a local club. Having recently started his own security company in London, the former Special Air Service (SAS) soldier is hoping to make a name for himself as well as put some coin in his pocket.

Watch now on Catch Up

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Iconic team-up

It isn’t long before Alfred is approached by a rich but somewhat dodgy American billionaire calling himself Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) – yes, the same Thomas Wayne who would eventually end up be Bruce Wayne’s ill-fated father. But Thomas isn’t the only one with his eye on Alfred – a mysterious group calling itself the Raven Society is also taking a keen interest in the highly skilled former soldier.

By episode 2, Alfred reluctantly teams up with Thomas and his future wife, Martha Kane (Emma Paetz), who can throw a few kicks and punches herself, in a quest to not only save London, but annihilate the Raven Society.

Pennyworth creator Bruno Heller says, “The DC universe (the comic books) has got lots of wonderful superhuman, super-heroic characters. There are very few real people that have iconic status, and Alfred Pennyworth is one of them.”

“We chose to do an origin story about Alfred. The really attractive thing about it is that he has an underutilised and under-spoken of as a character. Alfred is someone who has been in the frame but never really looked at.”


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Untold tales

While Alfred takes centre stage, viewers will also get to learn more about Thomas Wayne – a character usually only briefly referred to in the comic books to place Batman’s will to seek out justice in context. Co-producer Danny Cannon explains that it was challenging but also exciting to delve into Thomas’s life despite there being very little info to work with. “His only function has ever been to die and to create this drive for Bruce. Bruno came up with this great idea for them (Thomas and Alfred) colliding together, by happenstance,” Danny adds.

Meanwhile, Bruno reminds viewers that Bruce’s mother, Martha, is just as important in the Pennyworth universe. “Martha is one half of the DNA that makes up Batman. Thomas and Martha are the two sides of Batman, and Alfred is the surrogate parent that creates the complete character. So to be able to examine that Batman myth from this completely fresh angle… it’s good drama.”

While the show primarily focuses on the titular character, Bruno and Danny make it clear that the series will most likely leave many Batman fans questioning their existing perceptions of many major characters. “We have been able to do things in this DC world, that will be revealed in the first season, that will be very shocking and challenging, and they will make people think twice and three times about the history of these characters. It allows you to explore them as three-dimensional people that are flawed, and who make terrible and tragic mistakes.”

Watch Pennyworth S1 from Saturday, 10 October on M-Net City (DStv 115) at 21:40 or on Catch Up


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