Veteran stage and screen actress Jennifer Ward-Lealand will lead TV One's megabucks new drama series Dirty Laundry.

The Herald on Sunday can reveal the former Shortland Street star will play money-laundering matriarch Donna Rafferty in the gritty show that has just gone into production with $6.7 million in funding from NZ On Air.

In the series, Ward-Lealand's character Donna has been channelling ill-gotten gains through various businesses for years, but when the police cart her off to the slammer, the revelation mum is a doyenne of crime comes as a complete surprise to her family.

The shell-shocked Raffertys are left to fend for themselves and face the possibility they can't afford their comfortable middle-class lifestyle.


Other family members include daughter Kat (played by Go Girls actress Tai Berdinner-Blades) and son Matt (Tim Carlsen from Field Punishment No.1).

Rising star Victoria MacCulloch takes the role of second daughter Bianca.

"I'm absolutely loving working on Dirty Laundry," Ward-Lealand said.

"It has a great cast, terrific writing, a super production team and the opportunity to go on an interesting character journey - what more can an actor ask for?

"I can't wait to see how things develop as we learn more about Donna's complicated family life.

"I'm pretty sure there are some surprises in store."

The core cast is joined by a raft of acting talent including: Robbie Magasiva, David Van Horn, Rachael Blampied, Pana Hema Taylor, Heto Ah Hi, Ilona Rogers and newcomer George Ferrier.

Dirty Laundry is being made by Filthy Productions Ltd, the team behind TV2's upcoming multi-night drama series, Filthy Rich.

"I couldn't be more excited to bring the work of this phenomenal cast and crew to Kiwi screens," producer Britta Hawkins said.

"It's a joy to watch the Rafferty family coming to life and navigating the minefield of Donna's unfolding secrets."

Dirty Laundry will air on TV One later this year.