Jane Campion is a storyteller like no other. We are delighted to bring to screen an unforgettable landscape and characters who are unique, original and yet utterly recognizable - this is a story which will touch us all.”Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning
Date: 26.06.2013 Last updated: 25.03.2014 at 13.21
Academy Award-winning writer and director Jane Campion (The Piano, Portrait Of a Lady) returns to the small screen with Top Of The Lake, a powerful and haunting mystery set in the remote mountains of the South Island of New Zealand.
Starring SAG-winner and four-time Emmy nominated actress Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, On The Road), Holly Hunter, Best Actress Academy Award winner for her performance in Campion’s The Piano, BAFTA nominee Peter Mullan (War Horse, Trainspotting), AFI Award winning actor David Wenham (The Lord Of The Rings, Australia) and Thomas M Wright (Balibo) the six-part drama series is Campion’s first television production in over 20 years and reunites Campion and Hunter in New Zealand for the first time since The Piano.
Genevieve Lemon (Sweetie), Robyn Nevin – doyenne of Australian Theatre, Robyn Malcolm (Outrageous Fortune, Rake), Jay Ryan (Offspring, Terra Nova) Kip Chapman (The Cult) and Madeleine Sami (Super City) are among a host of Australian and New Zealand talent to feature in the production.
Top Of The Lake is an original drama for BBC Two, made by See-Saw Films and co-produced with UKTV in New Zealand and Australia and Sundance Channel in the United States.
The series is co-written by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee, co-directed by Campion and rising Australian director Garth Davis and is executive produced by Academy Award-winners Emile Sherman and Iain Canning (The King’s Speech, Shame) of See-Saw Films, Lucy Richer for the BBC and produced by Philippa Campbell (No. 2, Rain) of Escapade Pictures.
The series was commissioned for BBC Two by Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning and Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two. Screen Australia and Screen NSW provided investment with Fulcrum Media Finance funding the New Zealand Screen Production Incentive Fund (SPIF) and the Australian Producer Offset.
Top Of The Lake begins with a mystery – a 12-year-old girl walks out chest deep into the freezing waters of an alpine lake. The girl is Tui (Jacqueline Joe), daughter of the local drug lord, Matt Mitcham (Peter Mullan). She is discovered to be five months pregnant and won’t say who the father is. Then she disappears.
Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) is the straight-talking detective specialising in child protection called in to investigate Tui’s case. But as Robin becomes more and more obsessed with the search for Tui, and learns more about the local community of her own childhood, she begins to realise that finding Tui is tantamount to finding herself - a self she has kept well hidden.
Tui’s disappearance brings two men back into Robin’s life. Johnno (Tom Wright), Matt Mitcham’s son, is an old boyfriend and a reformed criminal who has spent time in a Thai prison for drug offences. Al Parker (David Wenham) is a fellow detective and mentor, who has known Robin and her family for a long time. As the case of the missing girl deepens Robin finds her own past uncomfortably merging with the present.
Meanwhile, a tribe of forgotten, invisible women, broken-down and disillusioned but searching for happiness and answers from the mysterious GJ (Holly Hunter) have set up a Women’s Camp in nearby Paradise on land that the Mitchams want for themselves. GJ has an electric detached air and her brand of kindness is bracing, aimed at cutting through delusions, but somehow her harsh advice “soothes” like a full stop. The women’s presence reverberates through the tiny male-dominated community.
“Top Of The Lake is a classic mythic struggle,” explains Campion, “Even as Robin breaks, she maintains a light and love for the lost girl, but it takes her by surprise to realise the lost girl is also herself.
Emile Sherman and Iain Canning commented: "To have Jane turn her creative energy to longer form drama is further proof of how exciting television has become a key medium for sophisticated and original storytelling.”
Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, said “Jane Campion is a storyteller like no other. We are delighted to bring to screen an unforgettable landscape and characters who are unique, original and yet utterly recognizable - this is a story which will touch us all.”