Everything You Need to Know About 'The North Water', Colin Farrell, Jack O'Connell and Stephen Graham's New BBC Drama

·3-min read
Photo credit: BBC/See-Saw Films
Photo credit: BBC/See-Saw Films

While it’s currently mid-summer and the rest of the nation is drooling over this year’s slew of Insta thirst-traps trying to find love (and a fast fashion contract) on reality TV, the real heads know that autumn’s the time when truly great television begins.

And the BBC is off to a sailing start by the looks of these new images of a disturbingly dark series featuring Stephen Graham, Colin Farrell and Jack O'Connell. The three big names have united for The North Water, an incredibly brutal story about the depths of humanity set on a Victorian whaling ship.

As we hold tight for a date for one of the flagship series in the broadcaster’s season, here’s everything we know about the production so far:

Photo credit: BBC/See-Saw Films
Photo credit: BBC/See-Saw Films

What’s the big idea?

The five-part series has been adapted from Ian McGuire’s 2016 novel of the same name, and tells the story of Patrick Sumner, a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up as a ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic in the late 1850s.

It’s a plot of extreme violence from the very beginnings, as the “ferocity of the elements is matched by the violence of his crew mates”, according to the BBC synopsis. Without giving too much away, Sumner soon discovers that his shipmate, the harpooner Henry Drax is a murderous psychopath. As the true purpose of the expedition becomes clear, confrontation between the two men erupts, “taking them on a journey far from solid ground and beyond the safe moorings of civilisation”. Cheery teatime viewing this most certainly is not - The Guardian described the book as “a voyage into the heart of darkness... horror at the core of existence”.

Photo credit: BBC/See-Saw Films
Photo credit: BBC/See-Saw Films

Who's in the cast?

Jack O’Connell (previously seen in Skins, Godless and ‘71 ) stars in the lead role as Patrick Sumner, while Colin Farrell (soon to appear as The Penguin in The Batman) takes on one of his darkest, twisted roles as the evil Henry Drax. Stephen Graham - who has been extremely busy during lockdown, and last seen in BBC prison drama, Time - will play Captain Brownlee. Tom Courtenay stars as Baxter and other actors also popping up will be Peter Mullan, Sam Spruell and Roland Møller.

The series has been adapted for the screen and directed by Andrew Haigh.

Photo credit: BBC/See-Saw Films
Photo credit: BBC/See-Saw Films

Where was the drama filmed?

The production has the bizarre honour of being the drama series filmed in the furthest point north, ever. As the story is set both in Hull and the Arctic, The North Water was mainly shot on the frozen seas north of the Svalbard Archipelago heading as far as 81 degrees north.

Stephen Graham said: “Filming on the ship was an incredible experience and one that I will never forget. To be so privileged to see such beautiful animals like polar bears in their natural habitat – albeit an ever changing one, sadly – was truly remarkable.”

Is there a The North Water trailer?

Not just yet, but we’ll keep you posted. It almost goes without saying - get ready for it to be brutal.

The North Water will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer this autumn.

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