Nearly 70 years since George Orwell’s visionary, dystopian novel 1984was first published, Big Brother has survived being commandeered as a reality television show to remain a terrifying concept – and one that resonates strongly in the digital age, along with many of the novel’s catchphrases including “doublethink”, “thought police”, “Newspeak” and the notorious “Room 101”.

The Australian cast of 1984. Photograph © Shane Reid

1984is famously set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of Oceania, in a world perpetually at war, where a totalitarian government controls its citizens’ every move, and thought. It tells the harrowing tale of Comrade 6079 Winston Smith, who toils as a clerk in the Ministry of Truth, where he is responsible for rewriting newspaper articles to reflect the party line and erasing eradicated “unpersons” from the public record. But then, Winston embarks on an act of rebellion when he buys a diary to record his inner thoughts and observations about the world around him, and forms a relationship with a colleague called Julia.

There have been numerous adaptations of 1984over the years. In 2013, Robert...